Held on December 5—the day before the Feast of St. Nicholas, who is the patron saint of children—the gala will begin with cocktails in the gilded International Ballroom and take over the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Chicago. There, with 1,300 other caring and giving individuals, supporters will enjoy cocktails, dinner, and dancing to Ken Arlen’s 17-piece orchestra.
Co-chairs of the Saint Nicholas Ball are Chuck and Janie Walsh, long-time supporters of Catholic Charities. Together with Monsignor Michael M. Boland, President of Catholic Charities, and newly appointed the Most Reverend Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, the Walshes reiterate that the evening’s focus is on the needs of children and their families. “Because of this event, less fortunate children are provided with nutrition, shelter, clothing, and guidance,” says Chuck.
With gratitude to events like the Saint Nicholas Ball, Catholic Charities is able to help more than 220,000 children and their families each year. Programs include early care and education to more than 1,500 children ages six weeks to 12 years at their nine Child Development Centers. Counseling, case management, and support services are supplied throughout the year, as well as affordable care by the Head Start program. Safety for victims of domestic abuse is offered, counseling and job training programs are provided, and adoptions are arranged. All of this because caring individuals have kindly offered their time, talent, and treasure.
Catholic Charities is aided in their mission by more than 15,000 volunteers, and 92 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to their programs. “Across our programs, the lives of children are made better in some way,” says Janie. “They are educated by a caring early childhood teacher, they receive counseling by a skilled therapist, they are fed a nutritious meal, or housed when they have nowhere to sleep.”
The Spirit of Saint Nicholas Ball is on Friday, December 5, 6:30 p.m. at the Chicago Hilton. Call Christina Raddi Vasta at 312-948-6864, catholiccharities.net/stnick.
– Stacy Flannery // Photography by Robin Subar