Photography by Jay Blakesberg
REDF celebrated its 7th Annual Benefit on October 22 at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco, with legendary rock band Journey headlining the event. In attendance were a number of local supporters, board members and stakeholders of the organization, representing an array of well-known names in tech, business and philanthropy who have aligned themselves with REDF’s mission to increase awareness and raise funds to help people with employment barriers, such as homelessness, incarceration and mental illnesses, to join the workforce.
The evening began with REDF Board Member and actor, Chris O’Donnell, providing opening remarks on his experience as a supporter of the organization and reminding the audience of redemptive hope that REDF provides to marginalized individuals looking to return to the workforce. “I give to REDF because jobs are what fuel our economy. Jobs have the power to transform lives and strengthen families and communities.” He noted that the inspiration for his philanthropic efforts come from his father who was also actively involved in causes close to his heart.
A number of individuals were recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the organization, including Katelyn Dalton, this year’s Stuart G. Moldaw Step-Up Award winner. Having overcome a lifetime of setbacks including homelessness and addiction, Katelyn credits Goodwill Silicon Valley- a REDF portfolio organization, with giving her the opportunity to turn her life around by providing employment in their warehouse. She thrived in the position, receiving numerous promotions and eventually becoming an employee support specialist, working to assist others as they prepare to return to the workforce.
“Stories like Katelyn’s show us that access to a job is absolutely fundamental – especially at that moment when a person becomes determined to change the course of their lives; giving them a sense of purpose and pride,” said Carla Javits, REDF President and CEO.
Also recognized at the event was Bank of America, who received the inaugural George R. Roberts Good Business Award for leading the business community in creating more economic opportunity for people facing the greatest barriers to work.
Following the festive award ceremony and delicious family –style dinner, the crowd was treated to a much anticipated performance by iconic rock band Journey, who performed their most loved and classic hits, including Don’t Stop Believing and Open Arms. It was a really personal issue for the band’s lead singer Arnel Pineda, who was once homeless during his teenage years before becoming Journey’s lead singer.
It was an inspired performance and fitting finale for the event which raised thousands for REDF, who hope to now take the best practices learned from 18 years of experience to grow their impact nationally. Since its founding in San Francisco in 1997, REDF has directly supported more than 60 social enterprises in California that have employed more than 10,000 individuals who faced significant barriers to work. To learn more about REDF and how you can get involved, please visit http://redf.org/