Blog: QCP Annual Gala
Back in February, a collection of some of the finest restaurants in all of Queens gathered together under one roof for ‘An Evening of Fine Food’ to benefit Queens Centers for Progress. On Tuesday night, the nonprofit organization would once again convene with some of their most devoted supporters inside of the picturesque ballroom of Corona’s Terrace on the Park for QCP’s now annual Gala event. With hundreds of attendees, live music, and a silent auction, the Gala would extol the group’s successes to date and raise enough funds to keep them operating in perpetuity.
For more than sixty years, Queens Centers for Progress have been a Godsend of sorts for children and adults plagued by developmental disabilities. With programs and initiatives aimed at physical rehabilitation, education, and recreation, QCP has long been a primary assistance provider to the disabled, offering their participants the opportunity to become more independent as their lives progress. And the funds raised at the Gala event would directly benefit many of the essential and fundamental pieces of equipment and teaching instruments not covered by local government funding.
Terrace on the Park played as a perfect setting for the Gala event with the outdoor views of Manhattan and nearby Citi Field being especially breathtaking on this warm early summer evening. We were welcomed inside by the sounds of live contemporary music and a bevy of buffet items and choice selections from a variety of open bars. The space was tastefully adorned with tables and place settings reminiscent of a wedding, with small corridors on opposite sides of the room housing silent auction items from New York Mets and Jets autographed memorabilia to a multitude of artistic prints ranging from Picasso to Norman Rockwell.
The program portion of the evening was kept purposefully brief but effective as QCP honored three local businessmen, who have been integral participants to their community over the past calendar year. Following a brief video presentation and speech by one of QCP’s brave young participants, the 2013 Gala would recognize Queens locals Anthony M. Ballato (2013 Business Man of the Year), Gerald J. Caliendo (2013 Distinguished Architect of the Year), and Anthony J. Franco (2013 Distinguished Honoree) with the evening’s primary awards. Through no coincidence, each of the men are highly regarded in their respective fields as building and construction became a metaphor for the programs being built and instituted by QCP. Guests were also treated to a heartfelt speech by former New York Mets third baseman and 1969 World Series Champion Ed Charles, who spoke of the impact Jackie Robinson had on his own life and career and related his experiences to the dynamic work being accomplished by QCP today.
While the 2013 Gala is now concluded, the sixty plus years of efforts by QCP’s founders and current employees should not be ignored as they have built Queens Centers for Progress into one of New York’s most highly effective and imperative organizations for assisting the developmentally disabled. The hundreds of attending guests at Tuesday evening’s event would similarly attest to the group’s immense successes and number of participants being helped on a daily basis. And as an attendee at an event of this caliber, one can’t help but feeling that as blessed as we are to be healthy, there’s always more that we ourselves can do to give back to the less fortunate members of our community. You can get involved simply by checking out the QCP website, and learning just a little bit more about where they’ve been and where they’re headed.
– Jane Van Arsdale