by: Jessica Reid (Media & Development Intern)
The 2020 Pomona Hope Fundraising & Awareness Gala, Harvesting Hope, marked Pomona Hope’s 17th anniversary. Though it took place virtually this year, it provided a special time to reflect on and celebrate all the ways we have seen hope grow despite the odds.
The evening began with a virtual cocktail hour for guests to chat over Zoom. Many members of our community had not seen each other for quite some time, and it was heart-warming to watch Pomona Hope staff, volunteers, and students joyfully update each other on growing families, new jobs, and recent or upcoming marriages.
When it was time to begin, Nathan Neighbour, Pomona Hope board member, extended heartfelt thanks to all of Pomona Hope’s gala supporters, corporate and foundation donors, and raffle donors.
Next up was a video featuring Linden (6th grade) that introduced the Jonah’s Light scholarship, awarded each year to a high school student who has demonstrated super-heroism. The 2020 Jonah’s Light recipient is Brandon, “A young superhero who is thriving in his community despite these unknown new and different times.” Brandon has distinguished himself by always taking on any task requested of him, staying late to assist younger students with homework, and coming in to help with extra projects.
Jeff Johannsen, Executive Director, spoke about the ways Pomona Hope successfully restructured its programs this year both online and in a limited, safe, in-person capacity. Jeff offered encouraging words a friend once told him: “Nothing lasts forever. You may not know how long it will last, but you can have hope that at some point in time things will change.” We do, however, still need your help. Many Pomona Hope students are already disadvantaged in terms of education and wellness, and Jeff noted that unfortunately, the pandemic has only widened the gap. “Now, more than ever, we ask for your partnership in the work that we do.”
After Jeff’s speech, a video outlined the ways Pomona Hope has responded to the health crisis over the course of this year and affirmed that, “though the structure and the size may differ, Pomona Hope’s commitment has remained strong and true.”
This video was followed by the selection of raffle winners, and a video message from Coco George. This year, Coco gave a memorial gift to Pomona Hope in honor of her parents, Yuki and Miko Sasaki, who embodied hope and believed deeply in the value of education.
Pomona Hope is so grateful for all who attended the 2020 gala and for all our generous supporters. With your help, we can continue to help hope grow in our youth and in our city.