On November 12, Root welcomed hundreds of supporters from all over the country for their virtual 5th Annual Celebration, the Salem organization’s signature event to highlight their youth job training program and the community partners and supporters who make the work and mission possible.
Famed Chef Gordon Hamersley began the night welcoming the audience, who included Mike Curtin, CEO of DC Central Kitchen (and Root Advisory Coucil member), and Janet Davas, Founder of Liberty’s Kitchen, whose programs served as inspiration for the launch of Root.
Over 100 meals prepared by Root staff and alumni were delivered to local audience members to enjoy during the 30 minute broadcast and viewers were able to bid on auction items, donate to ‘Raise the Paddle,’ and purchase cooking classes, all of which will continue to be available until Sunday evening at 9 p.m. online at rootsn.org.
During the event, Root executive director, M. Scott Knox, announced that Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) is the recipient of Root’s 2020 Community Leadership Award. The award is presented each year to an exceptional individual or organization who exemplifies the true spirit of youth leadership and workforce development. Past recipients include businessman and philanthropist Steve Dodge, Salem Schools’ Nutrition Director Deb Jeffers, and Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem.
“Year after year, ECCF has championed Root’s youth training program, helping to increase awareness of our mission and our social enterprise model,” says M. Scott Knox. “In 2020, ECCF has been a key supporter for our COVID adaptation. With ECCF’s investment through funding and counsel, Root has expanded our community impact in partnership with other North Shore non-profit agencies to create employment opportunities for young adults and address area food insecurity. We thank ECCF for their tireless work in not only supporting Root, but agencies and efforts all across the county that represent the best of who we are, especially in a crisis: collaboration, hyper local solutions, and impact.”
Root’s founder and board chair, Jennifer Eddy, went on to say, “It was an easy decision to award this year’s Root Community Leadership award to ECCF. The speedy creation and implementation of the Essex County COVID-19 Response Fund was a lifeline to many local nonprofits battling to meet the most basic and urgent needs of the community including food insecurity, loss of housing and mental health issues. The team at ECCF has consistently risen to the challenges in the community in a smart, innovative and data driven way and they are the epitome of community leadership based on the amazing work they have done in crisis situations such as the pandemic and the Lawrence/Merrimack Valley gas crisis, just to name a few! Root is honored to give this award in recognition of ECCF’s staff, volunteers, and supporters.”
Upon acceptance of the award, ECCF President and CEO Beth Francis said, “These past eight months have been an incredible reminder of how Essex County comes together during our most challenging times, and nowhere is this more evident than within our nonprofit community, of which ECCF is so proud to be a part. This award is such a wonderful honor, especially coming from Root, an organization that has always had a huge impact in the community and pivoted in such a significant and meaningful way during COVID.”