2016 Gala Wrap Up
Thanks to Canteen Designer
Jeff Suwalski & wife Tina!
Thanks to Karen Dionise & the Design Team!
The VIP Reception
An interview with Ivan Rutherford & Robert Meffe
The band warms up!
Rev. John Knight asks the Lord's blessing
on the evening and on the ministry.
A welcome from Family Guidance President Brian Johansson.
Master of Ceremonies Rick Dayton of KDKA
Nikki Serra draws the winner of the
Trinity Jewelers gift certificate.
Act I Begins!
Act II kicks off with a
Camp Canteen skit with
Katie Knox & Jill Buffalini
Board Chairman Jim Dionise talks about
Family Guidance's Legacy & Future.
Rafael Gary introduces his mentor &
Leckie Award winner Rev. Dr. Bryan McCabe
Great job, Rafael!
Ivan opens Act III with
"Steppin' Out with My Baby!"
Suzonne Smith is swept off her feet as
Ivan sings "Embraceable You!"
Step & Repeat Photos
Oh, What a Night!
“What a great time! What a great show!” This and many other similar comments from guests making their way out of the grand ballroom at the Fairmont Pittsburgh on Friday evening gave testimony that Family Guidance’s Third Annual Spring Gala – billed as “A Celebration of the Golden Era of Swing Music with Broadway Star Ivan Rutherford” – did not disappoint.
Two Broadway Veterans
In a special pre-gala VIP event, our own Kathleen Grehl interviewed Gala Star Ivan Rutherford and his friend and accompanist Robert Meffe. Both are veterans of Broadway. Ivan is best known for playing the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Miz over 2000 times. Robert is a longtime Broadway music director and conductor. (check out their bios in the Gala Playbill).
The Camp Canteen
The Promise Camp Canteen gave guests a glimpse into camp life and a creative way to support the upcoming camp season. A special thanks to Jeff Suwalski for designing and constructing the Canteen, and to Katie Knox and Jill Buffalini for conceiving and implementing the idea.
Many to Thank
Family Guidance President and CEO Brian Johansson welcomed the guests and recognized several, including Judge Maurice Cohill, one of the founders of Family Guidance with Jim Leckie 52 years ago. Also recognized were Craig Schweiger and Glenn Graner from Light of Life, Ed Glover of Urban Impact, Lisa Kuzma from the R. K. Mellon Foundation, and Breanna Dismukes from the Duffy Foundation. Rev. John Knight of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church and former TWOgether Pittsburgh Project Director, opened in prayer.
Our Master of Ceremonies
KDKA news anchor, Rick Dayton, served again as the Gala’s very capable master of ceremonies, helping the evening to move seamlessly through remarks by featured guests and Ivan’s favorite swing tunes from Broadway musicals of the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s.
After a wonderful dinner, Act I began and toes started tapping as Ivan and his Swing Band delighted the crowd with renditions of “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Pennies from Heaven,” “All the Things You Are,” and crowd favorite “Mack the Knife!” The band included Robert Meffe on piano, Benni Rossman on upright bass, and Al Wrublesky on drums.
Act II debuted the new short film by PMI Production, “Who is Family Guidance?” This great film gave the audience an overview of our mentoring, camping, and family ministries in a clear and creative way. The film was narrated by Olivia Gill.
Board Chairman Jim Dionise talked about the legacy and future of Family Guidance, stressing the important impact we continue to make on Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable children and families.
Rev. Dr. Bryan McCabe was honored with the Jim Leckie Award for his years as an outstanding mentor of many children, and for his leadership of North Way Christian Community’s partnership with the Family Guidance LAMP program. He was introduced by his mentee Rafael Gary, who gave a moving testimony to the positive impact Rev. McCabe has made in his young life.
The band reconvened for Act III with “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” and “Almost Like Being in Love.” As the next number began, Ivan stepped off the stage and walked into the audience where he took the hand of a surprised Suzonne Smith, pulled her to her feet, and led her in a waltz while singing “Embraceable You!” The crowd loved it! Ivan finished the set with the moving “Bring Him Home” from Les Miz.
Our Gala Chairs Bob and Susan Grossman topped off the evening with heartfelt thanks for all. Bob, a partner at Grossman, Yanak & Ford CPA firm, talked about his passion for the work and mission of Family Guidance, and the importance of supporting this ministry that has made such an impact on our most vulnerable neighbors over the past 50+ years.
We want to give a big shout out to Karen Dionise and her design team including Jill Mason, Cheryl Colussy, Abby Weigand, Amber Pinskey, and Kathryn Claudy. Thanks also to Development Director June Maier for deftly organizing the entire Gala, Brett Probert for his photography skills, Miyah and Loren Knight for running the “selfie booth,” and to the Light of Life staff who offered their time and talents.
This quote from one of our longtime supporters says it all:
“What a splendid evening! Your gala preparations must have been monumental, but all we guests experienced was lovely and perfectly festive. Ivan’s interview in the Knox Room was delightful, and the banquet and program were a perfect blend of introductions, celebration, and entertainment. Six of our eight guests were new to Family Guidance and all eight loved the evening and remarked on what a wonderful organization you are.”