October 26, 2007
Past recipients of the Spirit of Service
Award were drawn to the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City on
October 25 for the 10th Annual President’s Dinner, the University’s
premier fundraising event. The group gathered for an evening of
celebration which highlighted St. John’s continued commitment to
providing a superb education and opportunity to deserving students.
The Spirit of Service Award acclaims individuals whose vision,
accomplishments and good works embody the essence of St. Vincent de
Paul and reflect the vision of the University. The University was
founded in 1870 by the Vincentian community, is “inspired by St.
Vincent de Paul’s compassion and zeal for service.” Over the past
decade, St. John’s has honored several alumni and friends of the
University with the prestigious award and all were invited to
attend this year’s event.
Peter J. Tobin, Dean Emeritus of St. John’s The Peter
J. Tobin College of Business, attended with his wife, Mary P. Tobin
’00HON and the pair gloried in seeing fellow, former honorees.
“It’s so incredibly special because we remember when the
President’s Dinner was inaugurated and Peter was the first
honoree,” said Mary, who was herself a recipient in 2005. “The
dinner has just grown every year, which is fantastic.” Peter
expounded on the pride that every honoree experiences at being
chosen by the University. “You can’t describe the feeling,” he
said. “How wonderful it is to be a part of it all.”
Richard Chapdelaine ’84HON, who was honored in 2004, echoed that
sentiment and added that the University’s tradition added a special
poignancy to the evening. “Anything to do with the Vincentians I am
always proud to be a part of,” he said. “Just as the University
has, this dinner has come a long way and it’s wonderful.” His
fellow honorees from that year, Sr. Judy Garson, R.S.C.J. ’07HON
and Joseph Mattone, Sr. ’53C, ’55L, ’94HON were also in attendance
and both commented on the valuable role the University plays in the
lives of those they serve. “I believe that universities like St.
John’s really hold the key to the future,” Garson said. “To have
people who benefited from St. John’s want to give back so that
students who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity can attend is
tremendous. I think the President’s Dinner is a genius
inspiration.” “[St. John’s] has always been good to me and I’ve
tried to repay that in anyway that I can,” Mr. Mattone said.
The black tie event began with a cocktail reception where
attendees mingled and enjoyed the elegant, hotel décor. Millennium
year honoree, Nina Aversano ’66Ed said being selected for the
Spirit of Service Award was “one of the greatest honors” she had
ever received and returning to celebrate with other recipients was
a joy. “This is a great night,” she said. “It’s elegant, it’s warm
and it’s very special to be with everyone from St. John’s. This
award was recognition of the education I received and how St.
John’s is committed to service so if I can exemplify that in any
way that’s just wonderful.”
Paula and Thomas McInerney ’64HON, ’01HON proclaimed the evening
exciting. “It’s a big, big night,” Tom said. “We know most of the
honorees, we enjoy their company and they are all good people.
That’s what makes working with St. John’s such a pleasure.” “We are
honored to be in their company,” Paula added. Richard DeZego ’06HON
joined the McInerneys on the dais in 2005 when they were all award
recipients and said he treasures his relationship with the
University. “My mother was a graduate of St. John’s in 1933 and in
honor of her memory, I am myself very honored.”
The festive nature of the dinner added to the pride that many
felt at knowing their support would help students achieve their
dreams. Kathleen Foley, M.D. ’65UC, ’92HON, a 2006 honoree, can
relate to those students. “I am very appreciative of the
scholarship I received from St. John’s, the education and what it
has meant in my life,” she said. “Giving money for scholarships is
at the heart of what it means to help people develop as leaders and
in their careers.” Fellow honoree Jeffrey Holzschuh said the
fundraiser exemplified the esteem in which the University is held.
“It’s a great tribute to St. John’s when you see all the money
raised for the students,” he said.
Salvatore Zizza ’67UC, ’72MBA expressed his gratitude at having
been honored last year by alma mater. “It reaffirmed how I
live my life and I continue to do the same,” he said. Hon. Joseph
Bellacosa ’59C, ’61L, ’87HON, Dean Emeritus of the School
of Law, summed up the evening as a continuance of the University’s
mission which he believes becomes ingrained in those who embrace
St. John’s. “They are shown by good example and instruction the
importance and responsibility of giving back,” he said. “This is
really an opportunity that is so unique to the St. John’s
experience and it becomes a part of your life. It’s not just
getting a degree.”
The 11th Annual President’s Dinner will be held October 30,