United South End Settlements (USES) raised more than $450,000 as part of its annual Neighborhood Gala at SoWa in Boston’s South End last Thursday night, May 12, marking a triumphant in-person return for its signature fundraising event and surpassing the organization’s fundraising goal.
The event featured remarks from Chief Executive Officer Jerrell Cox, who was recently appointed to the role after serving as co-executive director for the past year, as well as outgoing Board Chair Julia Johannsen and incoming Board Chair Carmen Duarte.
“I am the grandson of Otis L. Day, a sharecropper and a sharecropper’s son who escaped the cotton fields of Georgia to Boston to raise his family” said Cox in a speech that traced his longtime connection to USES from his time as a participant of Camp Hale, which the organization operates in New Hampshire, to running the nonprofit as it enters its 130th year. “As I stand here before you tonight, I am so proud to be the new CEO of USES, the organization that is responsible for helping the hopes and dreams of so many families like mine come true.”
The gala generates critical revenue for USES to continue its work, offering programs that holistically support low-income families in the South End and surrounding communities in achieving economic mobility. USES’ two-generational model offers programs ranging from early childhood education, after school programming, and the Camp Hale summer camp, to job training and placement with one-on-one coaching for parents and caregivers.
The Neighborhood Gala, the organization’s first in-person fundraising event since the pandemic, was attended by about 300 guests, including Boston City Council President Ed Flynn, Boston City Councilors At-Large Ruthzee Louijeune and Julia Mejia, State Representative Jon Santiago and King Boston Executive Director Imari Paris Jeffries. Guests gathered outdoors at SoWa to enjoy food and cocktails from their many neighborhood partners, including South End and greater Boston favorites like Above and Beyond Catering, Flour Bakery + Café, Horizon Beverage Group, Jamaica Mi Hungry, Moyzilla, Riverwalk Brewing Co., Samuel Adams, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Zinneken’s and danced the night away to beats from DeeJay MoT.
The event was co-chaired by Duarte and Board Member Jennifer Coplon.