Last night, more than 500 members of our community came together at The Emanuel Synagogue to celebrate the impact we can achieve when we work together in times of need. HINENI: "Here I Am" - An Evening of Voices and Visions featured personal stories of how Federation and the Jewish community rallied together to promote healing and recovery after three major American crises. We heard from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Ivy Schamis and MSD parent and Federation professional Allison O'Mara about their efforts to protect and rebuild their community during and after the horrific shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, this February. Yael Ross, a young mother from Houston, Texas, who lost everything in Hurricane Harvey, and Harold Gernsbacher, an entrepreneur and Federation volunteer from Dallas who helped with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, shared their experiences. And Darlene Wolliston of Capital Region Education Council in Hartford recounted her work with our Federation and other local agencies to resettle Caribbean families in Greater Hartford after Hurricane Maria. Our friend, event co-chair and fellow community member Ron Schlossberg served as the emcee and deftly explained the deeper meaning of HINENI (in fact, the event name was his idea).
HINENI was also the kickoff to Federation's 2019 Annual Campaign. Featuring the powerful stories of everyday people instead of celebrities, it was a radical departure from the Voices and Visions women's and men's events of years past - and that was intentional. We know that you have many options for Jewish giving, and we are making a concerted effort to demonstrate how we put your contributions to work locally, nationally and globally.
I am delighted to report that, thanks to HINENI attendees' generosity, we were able to exceed our $1 million fundraising goal for the evening. In fact, we are still counting pledges and will announce the total raised on Monday. Please check our website or the Federation Facebook page for the exciting news!
As we move farther into 5779 and the 2019 Annual Campaign, our Federation will continue to share stories and statistics about the remarkable change we are creating together. I want to thank each and every one of you for once again saying "HINENI! Here I am!" to our Jewish brothers and sisters and our neighbors in need here, in Israel and around the world.
President and CEO