2019 Humanitarian Awards and Dinner
Annual MCCJ event achieves record attendance
This year’s MCCJ Humanitarian Awards and dinner was a huge success, and it even came with a few surprises. For the first time, the event, which was held at the InterContinental Miami, received a record number of attendees with close to 500 guests in attendance. In addition, a record number of people made heartfelt monetary donations in support of MCCJ programs and efforts. Since 1946, MCCJ has recognized leaders in the corporate, religious and legal community awarding them with the coveted Silver Medallion. These awards have also become MCCJ’s main source of funding.
Not only did MCCJ receive a total of 120 MetroTown scholarships valued at $500 each, about double than previous years, but mother and daughter team, Alitza and Caroline Weiss, became so inspired by MCCJ’s work and contributions towards building a more inclusive, diverse community that they announced their desire to donate $250,000 to the organization. “That has never happened before, we were overwhelmed with joy and felt somehow that Roberta Shevin was responsible for this extraordinary gift,” said Brian Dervishi, MCCJ’s chairman of the board. “Between this donation and the MetroTown scholarships, we will be able extend the scope of our work and send a record number of students to the six-day, Summer, residential program at St. Thomas University where South Florida high school students will undergo a week of activities geared towards stimulating dialogue around areas of diversity. By the end of the week, student delegates will be able to break down barriers, overcome challenges and gain respect for each other,” said Dervishi.
As the Who’s Who of South Florida came together to celebrate Miami’s diversity, in appreciation of those who have helped to build a more welcoming, inclusive, just and cooperative society, attendees heard from all six honorees, who spoke eloquently upon receiving their Silver Medallion. These included Ruth W. Greenfield, Musical Prodigy and Activist; Saif Yamani Khan lshoof, Florida International University Vice President of Engagement; John C. Sumberg, managing partner of Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLP; and Alexandra Villoch, Miami Herald President & Publisher. In addition to the Silver Medallion, The Reverend Diane Shoaf was honored with The Clergy Medallion, and legendary attorney Burton Young received The Robert H. Traurig Lifetime Achievement Award. In their speeches, they all mentioned the violence against people who are different, whether by religion, race, cultural background or sexual orientation. “Preventing hate will not come from merely thoughts and prayers, said Saif Ishoof, “it demands we match words with deeds.” It was clear to everyone that hatred works when we fail to speak out against bigotry and discrimination and getting involved was needed now more than ever. The Reverend Diane Shoaf asked for a moment of silence and said a prayer during the lighting of the Unity Candle, led by The Reverend Wiliferd Allen-Faiella, The Reverend Priscilla Felisky Whitehead, Rabbi Solomon Schiff, Rabbi Moshe Tom Heyn, Imam Bilal Karakira, and The Reverend Dr. Patrick H. O’Neill.
The event was hosted by WPLG Local 10’s Calvin Hughes, along with Dinner Chairs, Gail and Albert E. Dotson, Jr., and Honorary Chairs Brian Dervishi, Michelle Ramirez-Patricios, and Rev. Dr. Patrick O’Neill.