On April 17, we had the privilege and honor to hold our 4th annual fundraiser at the residence of Henry Buhl. Guests were treated to an evening of food, drink, friends, and of course, a ceremony that honored those who embody the essence of what BALI stands for. The evening’s honorees were Congresswoman, Bella’s Friend and leading Feminist, Carolyn B.Maloney for the Bella Award, Legendary Singer, Songwriter, Actor, and Civil Rights Activist, Harry Belafonte , who received the Bella “Fella” Award, and Emerging Writer Activist, Maya Catherine Popa who received the Andrea Young Women Leadership “ Chutzpah” Award .
The first-ever “ Excellence in Civic Engagement” Awards were given to the two BALI Graduates: Katelynne Bazile from the Summer 2009 training and Hannah Whalen from the Summer 2011.
The award is given to young women who choose to embrace a leadership role and commit themselves to civic engagement activities. For those who have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Bazile and Ms. Whalen, there is no question that they are the quintessential BALI girl: strong, articulate, dedicated, and committed to becoming civic activists and leaders.
One of Katelynne’s most outstanding displays of leadership occurred while working with other BALI graduates and interns on preparing for a V-Day Cabaret on February 11th, 2012. In the weeks before the cabaret, Ms. Bazile led our volunteers and helped them prepare several choreographed dances and poems for the cabaret. She organized the performance practices and was quick to help anyone who needed guidance. Ms. Bazile was dedicated to making the cabaret a success! Katelynne was so excited that all proceeds were going to earthquake relief efforts for Haiti; Ms. Bazile is a proud Haitian American who wanted to do anything she could to help.
Ms Bazile later expressed that she was touched to learn that we at BALI wanted to join the effort to raise money for Haiti. She said, “It’s very seldom to be in a program that cares completely about their attendees….it warmed my heart to know that they… cared enough to do this with me.” Ms Bazile added, “I’m so grateful to have met all the great people at BALI…BALI changes the life of everyone who attends it. I am proud to say that I was and am a part of the BALI Family.
Hannah’s dedication and passion for BALI and BALI’s mission was evident in the effort and work she put into developing BALI’s program brochure. In talking about her motivation for her efforts, Hannah said she wanted to create the brochure in order to “highlight for young women all of the positive aspects of what the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute has to offer in order to help prepare them for an outspoken role as one of tomorrow’s leaders.”
Ms. Whalen felt strongly about finding a way to reach out to more young women because she felt that her personal BALI experience from the Summer 2011 was invaluable and important to her development. She said, “I didn’t know it at the time, but soon quickly realized that I’d been inducted into a powerful sisterhood network that consisted of young women my own age, and many mentors, older than we were, who would guide us. These mentors took us through a series of workshops designed to open our eyes and to help us find our own voices…I have to say that I learned as much from my group peers as I did from our mentors, since each young woman had a deeply personal point of view that I found to be beautiful, sincere, and moving. I felt that I was among girls who would become the future leaders and voices of our nation and world… Our involvement in the 9th Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations made me know how important it is to be linked to a vaster network of people…”
We at BALI look forward to seeing Katelynne and Hannah continue their efforts and help pave the path for other young women. Congratulations, Katelynne and Hannah! Hats off to you!
Please check out the pictures from our Fourth Annual Bella and Bella Fella Awards Fundraiser at our Facebook: Bella Abzug Leadership Inc.