CommentaryThu Jul 5, 2012 - 7:36 pm EST
Gala revealed a lot about who we are
Recalling the April 28 LifeSiteNews gala still brings to mind many fond memories from that amazing ‘family’ event. It revealed a lot about who we are and the passion and love of life and family that we share with each other, many leaders, and our supporters. Today, the first day of our summer campaign, I want to tell you more about that wonderful day and evening.
LSN staff and our US and Canadian boards of directors are spread around internationally. One benefit of the gala was that it gave a rare opportunity for most of us to meet each other in person, many for the first time. We are mostly a virtual organization, with staff usually hired over the phone and by email, board members and staff usually meeting only by conference calls or on Skype, and some of us never having actually met in person. Most of us work from our homes.
We were therefore thrilled to actually be together at a joint board/staff luncheon and a meeting during the afternoon before the gala. The meeting was serious and productive business, but it was also a special occasion of joy for the LifeSiteNews team.
Part of the meeting involved discussions with Jean-Yves Cote, our lead defense lawyer in the Gravel lawsuit against LifeSiteNews, and Peter Breen, Executive Director of the US Thomas More Society. They both came to the meeting and gala from Montreal, Quebec and Chicago, Illinois respectively.
The first evening event was the pre-dinner VIP reception at which Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gave a punchy, unabashedly pro-life, pro-family talk. He was introduced by LSN US board of director Dan McConchie, VP of Government affairs for Americans United for Life.
Cuccinelli, who will be running for Virginia governor in 2013, gave a live witness that it is possible to be a very competent elected official and be thoroughly, openly, pro-life and pro-family.
Gala attendees told me they were moved by having personally met and talked to so many leaders that they have been reading about on LifeSiteNews. It was difficult getting everyone into the dinner room later on because of all the excited interaction going on in the halls.
LSN US board member and dinner emcee, Brad Mattes, did an outstanding job during the night. Brad, Executive Director of Life Issues Institute and the host of the award-winning Facing Life Head On weekly television series, helped to make it a classy yet warm evening for all.
Famed Canadian novelist and artist Michael O’Brien gave the opening invocation, as well as some revealing comments about the LifeSiteNews team and the depth of our mission. He was an especially big hit with dinner guests who are fans of his novels. Keynote speaker Abby Johnson said she “had the best night tonight getting to sit by Michael O’Brien and chat it up” and that “it was the highlight of my year.”
Patrick Novecosky, Editor-in-Chief of Legatus magazine, gave the introduction to Abby, stating, “Abby represents everything we hope and pray for those who work in the abortion industry.”
Abby’s spirited talk was a natural fit for the night. Being pregnant at the time and having some complications related to the pregnancy, Abby had to cancel other speaking engagements. We were very grateful, therefore, that she was still able to make that long trip from her Texas home to be our keynote speaker.
The former abortion center manager said, “I really believe in pro-life media and what LifeSiteNews is doing.” She told about her new ministry, And Then There Were None, that reaches out to abortion clinic workers. In only its first four months, Abby revealed, they had “17 abortion clinic workers leave and convert on the issue of abortion.”
Facts, “not emotions, not yelling, not telling them they are a bad person,” are the key item that gets those workers’ attention Abby stressed. She related, “I kinda have a bank of articles that I use from LifeSiteNews that I can send to women and men who are considering leaving that abortion industry. Those facts, those articles, that is part of their conversion.”
After Abby’s talk there were lots of introductions – the LifeSiteNews US and Canadian boards, many leaders present and the LSN staff. This is our ‘family,’ and it seemed that by the end of the evening all felt that kinship and the joy that goes with it. John-Henry and I made a point of emphasizing that the people in that room are our heroes and that we see our role as one of being of service to all of them and their personal or organizational efforts.
We were very privileged to have in attendance Julia Holcomb, her very supportive husband and one of her sons who had all flown in from Texas for the Gala. Julia, who is now active with Silent No More Awareness, had donated two paintings for auction at the gala that were more awesome to see in person than any photos of them that we could have posted. The paintings were successfully auctioned off and many supporters had the opportunity to meet and chat with this gracious lady.
Then we premiered our 15-year anniversary video which blew away the audience. We will be unveiling that on LifeSiteNews soon!
That was followed by Deal Hudson, former adviser to the Bush administration, who expressed his strong admiration for the work of LifeSiteNews. His task was to encourage donations from the dinner guests. We were humbled by his glowing endorsement and conviction in supporting LSN. He said, “I’m in”, and at the podium put his check for $200 in an envelope and then asked, “how many of you are also in? Put your hands up.” We were amazed at how many did.
At the end my son John, our assistant editor and invaluable jack-of-all-trades, was moved to spontaneously approach the podium and thank John-Henry and myself for all that we had done in starting and leading LifeSiteNews. John especially wanted everyone to realize that we strongly encourage all staff to maintain a solid prayer life while doing this difficult work.
The program ended at about 10 p.m., but a proof of the success of the night was that many guests lingered for over an hour longer, wanting to chat about what went on and socialize further with the exceptional people who were there that evening. New relationships were struck that night.
There is much more that could be written about April 28. I think this report gives you a good idea of the spirit and significance of the day and evening, and hopefully a better sense of the importance of LifeSiteNews’ mission and the many influential persons who work closely with us.
To continue that mission we rely almost entirely on financial support from our readers. There is no large benefactor behind this organization, as some readers assume from time to time. It would be really helpful, but I can assure you that is presently not the case. We just get by from quarter to quarter with the generous donations that you, our readers, are able to send us at those times.
And of course, we are blessed by those key supporters who make recurring donations each month to keep us going as campaign funds are used up. These recurring donations are vital to our operation.
It is now time for our Summer Campaign. As Deal Hudson asked our guests at the Gala, “Are you in?”
During our Summer Campaign,
will you donate to this mission for truth?
(Click Here to Donate)
Our annual operating expenses now add up to about $600,000. For this campaign we have set a not-unreasonable goal of $100,000.
You can play a crucial role as a member of the LifeSiteNews family by sending a gift for our much-needed work TODAY!
Please send us your gift today – for life, for truth.
P.S. Abby Johnson ended her keynote address by saying, “When you are asked tonight to make a contribution to LifeSiteNews, I hope that you will remember the lives of the children and grandchildren and kids in your life who you love. Because I want to tell you, we have to sacrifice. As much as you can.” We hope you take her words as seriously as we do.