Each spring, Community Teamwork, Inc. hosts an annual Spring Celebration gala to help support its programming in the Merrimack Valley region. This year’s gala was themed “Leading the Way Home” and recognized three groups of honorees that have contributed to ending homelessness, particularly among youth, in the region.
Among the honorees were Mayor William Samaras and his predecessor former Mayor and current State Senator Edward Kennedy. Both were honored for the annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest for Homeless Youth, a rock ‘n roll fundraiser designed to raise funds for youth homelessness services.
The Mayor’s Holiday Fest was the brainchild of Senator Kennedy, who attended a similar function in Somerville for several years. The first annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest took place in 2017 and raised approximately $11,000. When Kennedy handed off the keys to Room 50 to Mayor in 2018, he challenged his successor to continue the tradition and top his mark–and he did. The second annual Mayor’s Holiday Fest raised over $18,000. The tradition will continue later this year with the goal of raising over $20,000 in 2019.
Other honorees for 2019 included Jay Linnehan, President and CEO from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation and The Sisters of Charity of Ottawa and Eric Cousineau for the work done at Bachand Hall.
In addition to the standard speeches and cocktail hour, the CTI Spring Celebration Gala featured an interactive video program where attendees could vote on the answer to certain trivia questions. Hosted by the CTI youth broadcast team, each honoree was given a segment with one or two questions introduced by a friend or family member of the honoree. Guests were then invited to vote via their cell phone for the answer they best felt matched the individual or group in question.
For instance, if Ed Kennedy was a member of the Rolling Stones, which one would he be?
You may think its Mick Jagger, but the correct answer is Keith Richards. At least according to Frank Heslin, Ed’s cousin and the chairman of the Holiday Fest committee.
The audience agreed!
Other honorees received similar trivia treatment with Mayor Samaras’s friends from Long Meadow Golf Club and his granddaughters each giving a different side of his personality.
Each honoree was giving a framed artistic rendering of their home as an award. Mayor Samaras spoke in accepting the award as well as Senator Kennedy’s wife Susan, as the Senator was in Boston, unable to attend due to the final night of Budget Week at the State House.