Blackjack Spectacular Recap

 
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“We give and work with joy. The attitude with which we give and work is as important as the amount of time and money given.”

When we set out to build our annual gala, we did so with this core value in mind. This year, we planned and hosted our 5th Annual Blackjack Spectacular in Pittsburgh with this very same value in mind. Over 325 of our friends and family in Pittsburgh joined us for an incredibly fun evening of Blackjack and other games to win an array of raffle items, our Host Committee curated a great silent auction and brought wonderful friends to the evening to help us raise $82,278.65 to end poverty through dignified jobs.

At the event, we shared some updates on the growth of our work since our first Blackjack Spectacular. When we kicked off our event in 2014, we accompanied 6 families. Today, we serve 70 families in our community by providing wrap-around accompaniment to whole families, including open access to medical care, education, and job training and placement. Our goal remains the same, to place two heads of households into a good, dignified job, so that families can pull themselves out of poverty forever. This is why we were also proud to share that at the start of our work, just 4% of our family members had some form of work. Today, 65% of our families have at least 1 head of household making an income. Many more are in training today thanks to our supporters.

This year, we added a few new elements to better connect our guests with our work on the ground. There were tastings of Haitian Rhum Barbancourt, Cremas (a local cocktail), Haitian spicy peanut butter (which sold out in the first half of the evening), and Carmitha’s favorite local hot sauce for purchase. To share a glimpse of our job programming, our good friend Ryan Knapp recreated Carmitha’s store in the event space. Throughout the evening, sales from store products and raffle tickets were directed to Carmitha’s store to fund an expansion that would result in 8 new jobs. We’re pleased to share that we reached our goal of $5,000 to make this a reality.

We’re thankful to all of our sponsors, including UPMC, UPMC Health Plan, and UPMC Enterprises who joined forces as our Lead Sponsor. To our most wonderful board members and event co-chairs, John and Suzanne Graf and their staff at the Priory, we are forever grateful. Our host committee also gave us valuable time, resources, and connections that made the evening a success.

A huge thanks to our Master of Ceremonies Katie O’Malley, our VIP band Mary and Cal, and our main act Kenia.
Enjoy our photo gallery from the evening courtesy of J. Aaron Hager.

 
Vivien Luk