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The Gala

The 2019 Gala was a resounding success – raising more than $230,000 for Riverside’s Child and Family Services in Cambridge, Somerville, and Surrounding Communities.

More than 200 old and new friends of Riverside’s Child and Family Services (formerly the Guidance Center) gathered for the 2019 Gala on Friday, April 5, at the Charles Hotel to celebrate the children and families in Cambridge, Somerville, and surrounding communities who receive our services.  Thank you to our sponsors, table hosts, attendees, and volunteers who—through their generous support—help make mental healthcare, early childhood programs, and family support services possible. The gala raised more than $230,000!

We were very pleased to honor Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard Jr., for the department’s progressive work with youth in the community.

Debbie Bonilla, whose family received services from Riverside, shared her story. Debbie’s journey is extraordinary—from leaving an abusive husband to her role as an advocate for others experiencing family violence.  Our Children with Voices program helped her daughter cope with the abuse she witnessed…and Debbie worked hard with Riverside clinicians and took part in every group and workshop Riverside had to offer to heal from her own trauma.  She says, “I am so grateful that Riverside was there and continues to be there for my entire family. Because of Riverside, we are not just surviving but we are thriving.”

The evening featured a cocktail reception, a silent auction, dinner, an inspiring program, a live auction, and a moving experiential moment when all of the guests were invited to think of a child or adolescent in their life – present or past – with persistent emotional and behavioral struggles. In a word or two, guests were asked to describe their wish or hope for that child and write it on a paper “feather.” Co-chair Fran Arnold explained that wings were the theme of the evening,  symbolizing “freedom, lightness, hope, independence, and more.” The feathers with messages of hope were gathered and added to a pair of wings on display at the end of the program.

The event would not have been possible without the leadership of its chairs, Fran Arnold, Lauren Harder, and Melody Mak-Jurkauskas, the Gala Committee, and the Somerville and Cambridge community who so generously supported the event!

Be sure to view the photos on Riverside’s Facebook page.