Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS), a leading provider of services to prevent and end homelessness in Southern Massachusetts, raised more than $350,000 at its 25th annual FoodFest fundraiser, held Tuesday, July 30, 2019 at The Launch at Hingham Shipyard and Hingham Beer Works.Approximately 1,000 guests, vendors and volunteers gathered at the scenic Hingham Shipyard to raise money for the nearly 6,000 people whom FBMS serves annually. Funds raised support the agency’s range of services for individuals, families and veterans, including emergency shelter, homelessness prevention programs, employment programs, and more than 500 permanent supportive housing units.
This year’s fundraising total exceeded the agency’s goal of raising $300,000. It also topped the total of approximately $335,000 raised at last year’s 24th FoodFest.
“We want to thank all of our generous sponsors, supporters, event vendors, in-kind donors, volunteers, as well as our event hosts who helped make this year’s FoodFest a tremendous success,” FBMS President & CEO John Yazwinski said. “This past winter we saw our nightly shelter stays spike by about 20 percent, and we continue to see an increase in the number of elders coming to our doors desperate for help. This year’s FoodFest is proof that we’re part of a community that steps up for its neighbors in need to ensure that nobody has to sleep outside.”
Funds raised at FoodFest particularly help FBMS close the funding gap at its two emergency shelters for individual adults, Father Bill’s Place in Quincy and MainSpring House in Brockton.
FoodFest, back at the Hingham Shipyard for a fifth straight year, featured a food tasting with samplings from more than 35 of the South Shore’s most popular restaurants, bakeries and caterers. Guests were also treated to live music and opportunities to participate in a silent auction, chance raffle and wine pull.
At the event, Yazwinski presented Quincy attorney George G. Burke and the Burke family with the Richard C. and Virginia A. Welch Dedicated Volunteer Award, an honor given annually to a local individual or group strengthening their community.
When accepting the award, Burke delivered the quote of the night: “Christ said: if you want to get into heaven, take care of Father Bill’s.”
Also delivering powerful remarks Tuesday night was former longtime FoodFest chairman and FBMS board member Jim Wells, who currently serves as Vice President, Managing Broker for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Hingham.
Elected leaders in attendance included Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch and state Sen. Patrick M. O’Connor, who presented FBMS with a Proclamation from the state Senate congratulating the agency on its 25th FoodFest fundraiser.
The event also featured a video produced by Marshfield Community Television that highlighted two women, Jennifer and Melissa, who experienced homelessness in previous decades. Jennifer, who stayed at Father Bill’s Place in the 1990s, was helped by the very first FoodFest. After leaving the shelter she embarked on a successful career in human services and today she owns her own home in Quincy.
“We have to have homeless shelters, we have to have human services agencies. People need a place to turn when they’ve got nowhere else to go,” Jennifer said in the video. “We’re all human, anything can happen. The bottom line is: Everybody needs help and thank goodness there are places like Father Bill’s to offer that help.”
Melissa was 7 years old when her family stayed at the MainSpring House, where she fondly remembers receiving a book as a birthday gift from a shelter volunteer. Melissa, inspired by that generous gift she received more than 30 yeas ago, held a book drive last year and collected more than 150 books for the children served by FBMS. Today, Melissa lives on Cape Cod with her husband and their two children
Jennifer and Melissa were in attendance Tuesday, joining Yazwinski on stage after the video premiered.
The event was supported by approximately 80 corporate sponsors, including the following Presenting Sponsors: Arbella Insurance Foundation, Bank of America, and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
For a full list of event sponsors and vendors, visit helpfbms.org/foodfest.