LAWRENCE – On Saturday, November 17, at the Andover Country Club, a packed house of over 440 guests attended the Lazarus House Sharing Our Bounty Gala with open hearts and a spirit of generosity like never before. The Gala generated a record-breaking total that will provide emergency services to those in crisis this holiday season and into the imminent cold months of winter.
Lazarus House helps families and individuals living in poverty regain their dignity and become self-sufficient, contributing members of the community by providing emergency shelter, food, clothing, transitional housing, support, education, and work preparation.
Bridget Shaheen, executive director, stated, “There are no words for the gratitude we have for the people whose goodness and generosity make the work of Lazarus House possible. From our donors to our guests, to our staff to our volunteers, every piece is equally important in making a better life for those we serve.”
Tiny Tunes of Andover was the premier sponsor of the event. As a special attraction, the students from Tiny Tunes performed during the welcome reception with an adorable repertoire of songs as well as a unique rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” later in the evening.
The evening was filled with magnificent entertainment and the anticipation and activity of both silent and live auctions. Guests were delighted by musical performances by Sons of Serendip (America’s Got Talent finalists) and the students of TINY TUNES.
Governor Charlie Baker addressed the room with a heartfelt talk celebrating the spirit of the people of Massachusetts and exclaimed with outstretched arms to a generous community gathered to help neighbors less fortunate “THIS is what I love most about my job.” Lawrence Mayor, Daniel Rivera, presented Bridget Shaheen, Executive Director of Lazarus House, with a ”Certificate of Appreciation” celebrating her uplifting spirit, inclusive nature, compassionate character and the excellent work she has done in the Lawrence community. One of the Lazarus House Guests, Erone, shared her story of struggle, strength, and ultimate success through the support of the team and programs at Lazarus House.
A shout out to Dr. Reverend Paul Burton of WBZ-TV News for an engaging emcee experience and Ed Harding, Anchor WCVB Newscenter 5 for his auctioneering expertise. Finally, guests were enchanted with an appearance by the lovely Lawrence native, Gabriela Tavares, Miss Massachusetts.
The event was teeming with respect, admiration, and devoted support for Bridget Shaheen in her last Sharing Our Bounty Gala in this leadership role. Shaheen is planning for her retirement in June of 2019.
The Gala was a success by all measures, but most importantly it set the stage for those in dire situations to receive what they need to survive, and to thrive as they do the long hard work of breaking the bonds of poverty for themselves and their families.
Doug Cook, President of the Board of Lazarus House, remarked, “My heart is so full of joy and gratitude for the generosity exhibited at the gala this year and in that same moment, my heart is heavy for the increased need surrounding us in the Merrimack Valley as we navigate the gas crisis, the continued need that is always in our midst and the cold winter months upon us.”
Julie Zavrl, owner of Tiny Tunes, shared, “Growing up in Andover there were so many of us sheltered from the sad reality of the people living in poverty so close to home. Even now, many of our neighbors in the Merrimack Valley are struggling and need a helping hand during these challenging times. I have been so lucky to have witnessed the many successes that the guests at Lazarus House have achieved and sincerely hope my contribution will continue to allow their victories, both big and small, to be possible.
The most important thing I realized with all my years of involvement at the non-profit is the importance of dignity in the fight against poverty and homelessness. Lazarus House does an incredible job restoring dignity for people during their darkest times. With the involvement of the children and families of Tiny Tunes, I have made it my personal mission to offer them the chance (as I had at a young age) to see what amazing things are possible when they get involved in their communities.”
Bridget Shaheen stated, “It is people like Julie who encourage children to use their gifts and talents for the good of others and that make this world a better place. I cannot imagine anything more splendid than the sound that came from those beautiful children that performed not only with their wonderful voices but with their loving hearts. They are our glorious future!”