It was Family Night when Futures in Education held its annual Scholarship Dinner at Manhattan’s Marriott Marquis Oct. 10.
Not only did the theme of family ring throughout the guests’ speeches, but also in the film presentation and thank yous offered by scholarship recipients.
A surprise appearance by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo highlighted the evening as he introduced his mother, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, as one of the dinner’s honorees.
Gov. Cuomo dazzled the 400-plus crowd as he told how it was his mother who ran the household while his father, Mario, worked many hours to support the family. It was Mom who made sure that he arrived on time every morning at St. Gerard Majella School, Hollis, and later Archbishop Molloy H.S.
The governor said supporting Catholic schools makes sense on the practical as well as the political agenda.
“Suport for Catholics schools is right as a matter of principle and it’s practically right because people should have a choice,” said Gov. Cuomo.
The governor also explained that the public school system, which already puts students in trailers rather than classrooms in some parts of New York City, could not absorb the 400,000 children in Catholic schools.
“The cost of education is double in public school what it is in Catholic school,” pointed out the governor. “It would cost the City taxpayers another $9 billion if you didn’t have children in religious schools.”
Gov. Cuomo applauded the Futures in Education dinner as “a beautiful gesture because it says what you are doing is what we all believe – limitations should not be because your family could not afford to send you to the right school.”
Matilda Cuomo, visibly touched by her son’s introduction, stressed the importance of “la familia” in the way she raised the children as well in the mentoring program that she inspired and continues to do so throughout New York State.
Also honored by Futures was Howard Fensterman and Carlo Scissura, whose time and financial contributions have been vital parts of Futures’ “Be An Angel” program.
A touching part of the program came when Stanley Karniewicz delivered testimony that he would not have been able to send his two sons to Divine Wisdom Academy without assistance from the “Angel” program. As a single father, he said finances would have been too stretched to afford a Catholic school, if not for Futures in Education.
The Futures’ gala included a star-studded entertainment, including New York tenor Danny Rodriguez singing the national anthem – with emcee Greg Kelly emphasizing there would be no kneeling.
Also lending their voices were Australian Grammy Award winner Alfeo, who will headline the Futures’ Spirit of Christmas concert at Lincoln Center, Dec. 18; Sister Cristina, Italy’s singing nun sensation; and the children’s choir of Our Lady of Fatima School, East Elmhurst.
Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, the diocesan vicar for development, announced that after all the silent and live auctions and tickets receipts were counted, Futures had raised $2.5 million to support its scholarship fund.