Words are insufficient to express the thanks of both the AMIS Board and the many families whom we serve for the generous support demonstrated by all who celebrated another successful year at our Cultural Connections 3.0 fundraiser held Friday, September 22 at the Negative Space gallery in Asia Town Center in Midtown. The event was a huge success, attracting not only the 125 attendees whom we had hoped to attract but 140, exceeding our goal. All in attendance shared a lovely evening of delicious appetizers and sweet treats from a variety of cultures.
For the first time, we were honored to have some of our elected officials in attendance, including Councilwomen Melody Hart and Janine Boyd from Cleveland Heights and Councilwoman Jenny Spencer from Cleveland, as well as County Executive Chris Ronayne’s Chief Economic Growth & Opportunity Officer, Matt Carroll. In addition, this year we also had many guests who were attending Cultural Connections for the first time, including representatives from several community partner organizations like Nehemiah Mission, the Spanish American Committee and Refugee Response with whom AMIS regularly interacts, as well as developing partners like the CSU Center for Refugee and Immigrant Success.
Our 15 immigrant guests who joined the festivities through the generosity of AMIS donors who chose to sponsor an immigrant guest when purchasing their own tickets, however, are the attendees who manifested AMIS’ mission. We thank each and every one of you for attending and sponsoring our immigrant guests.
A brief program followed the social hour and included moving short talks by four of our immigrant guests or their proxy. Each shared stories of deep courage and conviction as they made the painstaking decision to flee their former homelands and endure a difficult journey which ultimately led them to Cleveland. Overcoming language barriers and severe stage fright, one by one our brave speakers provided glimpses into the dangerous and difficult lives they had left behind and the hopes which they carried with them for a better life here. Abbreviated versions of their stories can be found below. Photographs and all but first names have been deleted for their protection.
Following these heart-felt talks, Rev. Jessie MacMillan from the Church of the Covenant led the Fund-a-Need Auction which produced $10,500 in pledges on the spot, pledges which were matched on a 1:1 basis by a very generous anonymous donor. All told, Cultural Connections 3.0 raised nearly $80,000, shoring up AMIS’s ability to continue to quickly and agilely respond to the needs of our newly arrived immigrant neighbors in 2024.
Thank you once again!