A Night in Black & White raises record $877,000
A man who bleeds black and white helped thrust A Night in Black & White into record-setting mode. Again.
Providence College’s annual premier fund-raiser, A Night in Black & White set fund-raising and attendance marks in its fifth edition, pulling in more than $877,000 and drawing 850 people. Those figures were achieved in no small part thanks to the affinity for Joseph P. Brum ’68, the event’s Black & White Award recipient.
The special assistant to the president for development projects, Brum has worked in development and alumni relations leadership positions for his alma mater for 44 years. In the course of raising more than $175 million for PC — including helping establish approximately 250 named and endowed scholarship funds — he has distinguished himself with a humble approach and a genuine, warm touch.
More than 65 alumni, parents, and corporation and foundation partners of the College acknowledged Brum’s Black & White Award with contributions in advance of A Night in Black & White. At the event itself, $33,000 was raised spontaneously for a scholarship fund in Brum’s name. PC trustee and celebrity auctioneer John G. O’Hurley ’76 & ’06Hon. went off-script during the Live Auction to solicit scholarship donations, and immediately, hands flew aloft.
Held for the second consecutive year at Boston Marriot Copley Place, A Night in Black & White unites the College community in a spirit of generosity and camaraderie primarily to benefit the PC Fund. The fund supports PC’s most immediate and pressing needs in the hope of optimizing the education and total experience of students.
Months in planning, A Night in Black & White was spearheaded by a 62-member committee co-chaired by Frank ’83 and Colleen ’83 Duffy and Chuck ’71 and Leslie Borkoski ’12P. The gala event, which features food and wine pairings, the presentation of awards, a Live Auction, and a Silent Auction, was supported by more than 200 members and friends of the College in the form of direct sponsorships and in-kind services.
This year’s leading supporters were Sodexo, gold sponsor; SMMA (Symmes Maini & McKee Associates), Live Auction sponsor; and John A. Cervione ’87, annual giving chairman, Silent Auction sponsor.
The co-chairs said the evening exceeded their expectations in multiple regards, from fund-raising for pivotal causes, to honoring a revered alumnus and friend, to experiencing the warmth and pride of so many in the College community.
“Celebrating the night with so many wonderful friends that we have made as a result of being part of the Providence College family was extremely satisfying,” said the Borkoskis. “Having our daughter, Jenna ’12, enjoying the festivities with so many of her classmates and friends added another special aspect to the evening for us. Seeing the next generation of Faithful Friars enjoying the camaraderie and networking with older alums further exemplified the specialness that is Providence College.”
The Duffys said the event is special because it involves and celebrates the College community and its goodwill.
“A Night in Black & White is unique because all of the items in our live, silent, and wine auctions are donated by incredibly generous PC alums, the auctioneer is our own John O’Hurley, and to us it is a manifestation of the Friar Family coming together to ensure that future generations can avail themselves of the tremendous education that we were fortunate to experience,” they said.
Coach commands attention
Colleen Duffy and Chuck Borkoski kicked off the formal program with opening remarks, followed by welcoming remarks from men’s basketball Head Coach Ed Cooley and College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80.
Cooley, who began clapping and chanting “Let’s Go, Friars!” as he approached the microphone. ignited the philanthropic mood for the evening. He announced that his wife, Nurys, and he were donating $10,000 to a special cause to them, the Angel Fund, which assists families of students in sudden, unforeseen financial hardship.
“You’re helping young men and women you don’t even know. When you give, you get more in return,” said Cooley.
Father Shanley, referencing a successful Family Day program for accepted students in the Class of 2018 earlier, emphasized that it was “a thank-you day. We have something truly special at PC,” he said. He alluded to many who supported A Night in Black & White … the committee, sponsors, and young alumni, members of the last 10 graduating classes who turned out in large numbers.
Father Shanley said it was time to thank two friends of the College, Sodexo and Brum. Sodexo, which received the Black & White Corporate Partner Award, has been the College’s food service provider since 1996. Led by General Manager Stuart Gerhardt, Sodexo employs 150 staff members, 35 students, and 12 managers on campus, and is regarded as much for its food and educational outreach as it is for the charm and warmth of its staffers, said Father Shanley.
Thomas Post, president of Sodexo Education’s campus segment, accepted the award. He concluded his remarks by saying how impressed Sodexo is with the College’s Friar Food Rescue program and other student-run initiatives, and he presented a donation to support student government operations.
Brum turns the tables
The next honoree, Brum, chosen for the Black & White Award for selfless contributions to the College and the community, was humble and hesitant to receive the award when notified, said Father Shanley.
“There’s a humility Joe has,” he said. “It’s never about Joe. It’s about the other person. Joe has an extraordinary gift to make friends and to raise money. He’s the PC story. He is a friend for life.”
Brum, who was born in The Azores and grew up in Fall River, Mass., told the audience he found the attention “a little overwhelming,” citing the work ethic instilled in him by his parents. He said he was “deeply touched by this wonderful honor” and suggested it was College benefactors and supporters who should be thanked.
“Your caring, assistance, support, and generosity have enabled me and my colleagues to help advance Providence College,” said Brum, who gave special thanks to close friends Robert ’42D & ’92Hon. and Mary Anne ’02Hon. Reilly; former executive assistants Claire Masson and Ann Iannotti ’04SCE; classmates; and family.
Brum’s honor and “heartfelt” award acceptance made the evening complete for Chuck Borkoski, a longtime national and regional alumni leader and volunteer.
“Joe is one of the handful of people who was instrumental in stoking my desire to volunteer for the betterment of Providence College over the last 40-plus years,” he said. “To have the ballroom full of people who are so fond of Joe and exposing him to some of the younger alums and parents who may not have been as aware of Joe’s impact on the College was very heartwarming.”
Actor, TV game-show host, and composer O’Hurley then kept the atmosphere on an upswing by launching into a pulsating rendition of “All I Care About” (from Chicago) as a lead-in to the Live Auction and later, the Fund-A-Need appeal for the Angel Fund. The Live Auction, highlighted by two Dominic House dinners hosted by Father Shanley and Executive Vice President/Treasurer Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard, O.P. ’78 & ’82G, and tickets to The National Dog Show with John O’Hurley followed by dinner with the celebrity, raised $102,000.
O’Hurley’s salesmanship and prodding during Fund-A-Need, boosted the Angel Fund by $96,100. That included two gifts of $10,000 each that O’Hurley inspired after noting the Cooleys’ leadership contribution.
The Silent Auction proved popular as well. Guests apparently enjoyed the convenience of a new feature, mobile bidding, and helped the auction raise $63,300, more than $17,000 above last year’s total. Guests bid on dozens of items including student photography and art, lifestyle and fashion merchandise, and sports experiences and memorabilia.
— Charles C. Joyce
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