United South End Settlements (USES) announced its Vision125 plan, its five-year strategic plan that aims to disrupt the cycle of poverty for 1,000 children and their families, on Wednesday night, May 24, at The Neighborhood Gala – welcoming more than 400 guests.
With a backdrop of delicious food from 19 local restaurants, dancing, and music by DJ Braun Dapper, José Massó, host of WBUR 90.9 FM’s ¡Con Salsa!, emceed a program that brought event fundraising to just more than $400,000. This is a 37 percent increase over last year’s event, which raised $293,000. These funds will support education and enrichment programming for children who would otherwise not have access, as well as critical job training for parents and adults.
It was termed a record-breaking attendance to the annual event and very notable fundraising effort.
Beyond the fun and edibles, the event dished up plenty of food for thought on the role Southenders can play in uniting the community to strengthen families. In the South End, 36 percent of children live below the poverty line. To put things in perspective, the federal poverty line for a family of three is $20,090. The effects of growing up in poverty can be crippling to a child’s future. A child raised in a household in the poorest fifth of the income distribution has a 39 percent chance of being stuck at the bottom as an adult and just a 7 percent chance of making it to the top.
President and CEO Maicharia Weir Lytle remarked, “We believe that by embracing the assets in our community we can disrupt the cycle of poverty for children and their families. Through early childhood education and youth programming for children, and personalized coaching and job training for parents and caregivers, children are ultimately more likely to achieve sustained upward mobility as they grow and develop. By harnessing the resources in our community, USES is launching a new model of service that will engage 1,000 children and their families to disrupt the cycle of poverty over the next five years.”
The Neighborhood Gala, USES’s most successful fundraising event to-date, was led by co-chairs Jacqueline and Graig Fantuzzi, Julia and Peter Johannsen, and Patrick Planeta and Santiago Varela, and 31 dedicated Host Committee members.