2021 Virtual Hybrid Benefit

May 6, 2021 | 6:00 pm

Foundations in Education celebrated their annual fundraising event May 6th, 2021. Executive Director Holly Lemoine opened by stating “What a year it has been! We have each suffered personal loss and a collective trauma this past year. Yet amidst the difficulties, we have seen heroism, many beacons of light and great promise of hope.”  Entering the event somewhat warily but with a great dose of hope, FIE marketed this event as a “Virtual Hybrid Spring Benefit.” The evening featured home hosts as well as a few “in person” guests at Woodway Country Club in Darien, which served as the communication hub for the “live streamed” awards and auction.

Bishop Frank Caggiano welcomed friends virtually by recognizing honorees and outlining Foundations in Education’s mission of providing tuition assistance for families so they may provide a Catholic education to their children and Innovation and Leadership Grants for teachers to promote innovation in the classroom.  He offered an image of students as the focus of our purpose, in helping students realize their dreams by being entrusted by their parents to our teachers.  Bishop went on to say “I am here simply to thank you and ask you to be as generous as you can to allow the mission of Foundations in Education to continue to move forward, because we are about transforming the lives of our students, one student at a time.” Bishop proceeded to lead us in prayer and asked God to bless our common work and to aid our students in reaching their potential.  He asked too that God draw us all closer in the important mission of supporting our students and teachers.

The evening was indeed a celebration of Catholic Education and featured honorees, Dr. Julie McNamara, recognized for her “inspiring leadership and commitment to transforming students and teachers through Catholic Education” and Lynn and Frank Mara recognized for their “extraordinary philanthropy and personal commitment to Catholic Education.”

Tom McInerney, Chair of Foundations in Education’s Board of Trustees introduced honoree, Dr. Julie McNamara President Emeritus at Albertus Magnus College. Julie is a Foundations in Education Board Member since 2015 and served as President with Albertus Magnus from 1982 until her retirement in 2016. Dr McNamara has also served on the Yale-New Haven Hospital Board of Trustees for 29 years where she continues in her role as Vice Chair. Julie chairs the Innovation and Leadership Grants Committee for Foundations in Education which awards competitive grants for teachers. In this capacity she continues to influence the quality of education our schools offer. Tom parenthetically added “Julie is one of the nicest people I know.”

Barbara Ripp, Benefit Co-Chair, Member of Foundations in Education’s Board of Trustees and member of the Scholarship Distribution Committee introduced honorees Lynn and Frank Mara. In her remarks, Barbara noted the Maras are known in Greenwich as active community members, contributing volunteers and philanthropists. But what not everyone may know, is just how passionate and supportive they are, as a family, for Catholic education. Lynn has been a member of the Gala committee for several years. Her enthusiasm is boundless, and her creative ideas are always amazing!  Barbara quoted Patrice Kopas, Principal at Greenwich Catholic School who said “Frank and Lynn Mara exemplify what true faith in practice means. They have been unwavering in their support and devotion to Catholic education with all of their sons. To say they are committed Catholics doesn’t quite define their involvement and belief in the faith that really began with Frank’s Dad, Wellington…”

The awards were followed by a delightful and lively video of students with Bishop Frank which can be viewed at https://www.foundationsineducation.org/foundations-in-education-videos/ Having the students themselves set the stage, auctioneer Pat Tully harnessed the energy and led the virtual audience in a high energy live auction. The night was highlighted by a surprise appearance by Eli Manning, who along with Frank Mara would join one lucky donor on a golf outing for two at Winged Foot!

Thanks to the generosity of the many donors, and sponsors, the evening was a great success raising over $850,000.  Foundations in Education offers special thanks to the sponsors who assure hundreds of students will receive assistance this year.  Thanks to Chairman Sponsors Paula & Tom McInerney and Barbara & Peter Ripp, Benefactors Lynn & Frank Mara, Champion Sponsors Kris & Kevin Jandora Chris & Lorraine Wilson, and the group made up of The  Dominican Sisters of Peace, Dominican Academy of the City of New York, and Albertus Magnus College, as well as our Patron Sponsors Susan and Tom McInerney and Becky and Michael Shea. We are grateful too to our Corporate Partners Barbara and Brad Evans, Fairfield University, Elise & Neil Gabriele, The Heffernan Family Foundation, Mutual of America, The O’Herron Family Foundation, Jen & Chris St. Victor-de Pinho and Barbara & Robert Scinto.

The evening would not have been a success if weren’t for our home hosts who helped put the “virtual hybrid” into our Virtual Hybrid Benefit!  Thank you to the following sponsors who opened their hearts and homes to family and friends in celebration of Catholic Education: Marigle & Joseph Barragan, Mary & Brian Donovan, Diocese of Bridgeport, Sara & John Howe, Lynn & Frank Mara, Lisa & Joe Purcell, and Jen & Chris St. Victor-de Pinho.


Lemoine stated “We are grateful to the very loyal and generous donors who believe so strongly in our mission. We welcome and are equally grateful for the many new benefactors we met this year through this hybrid virtual event.  Your contributions quite literally transform lives! Thank you.”  Board of Trustee Chair Tom McInerney added  “we missed not gathering as a community over these past two years, and are eager to see you all again in person next spring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing your support of our students and teachers. The enormity of our work has never been more important than it is today.  We look forward to seeing you next year and invite you to stay abreast of our good work by visiting foundationsineducation.org.  Until we meet again, stay safe and may God bless you.”