This year’s Sayers Summer Soiree on July 20 was a blast! From the silliness of the heads-or-tails game, to the surprise of extra raffle prizes, the night was full of fun, excitement and laughter. It was also full of excellent food and drink, including delicious hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer, a pizza and burger bar, and decadent desserts. The view from the River Roast patio was pretty spectacular, too.
Soiree guests enjoyed an evening of nice weather, good conversation, an enticing silent auction and A LOT of dancing. For many, it was also a chance to meet new Cradle CEO Kim Perez, who welcomed everyone and gave a brief talk. Overall, the event was a big success, generating more than $12,000 for the Ardythe and Gale Sayers Center for African American Adoption at The Cradle.
The idea for the Soiree began to form when Sayers families wanted an opportunity to get together, network and raise funds for the Sayers Center program, while also enjoying each other’s company. In the past, families would host parties and dinners at their homes, or meet at a restaurant, but they wanted a new way to engage with more people in a larger setting.
Nijole Yukowitz, The Cradle’s Vice President of Inclusion and Community Development, got right on it and in 2013, the Sayers Summer Soiree was born.
Funds raised through the event support the important work of the Sayers Center. In 2016, 43% of the babies placed through The Cradle’s domestic adoption program were African American or multiracial. The goal of the Sayers Center is to find permanent, loving homes for these babies; to educate the African American community about the myths and realities of modern adoption; to recruit more African American adoptive parents; and to provide opportunities for cultural connectivity and support to all families who adopt Black children.
Programs like the Sayers Center are among the few working to change the script about adoption in African American communities. Not many organizations are making efforts to go out and educate as Sayers does. According to Nijole, “There aren’t that many adoption agencies out there having conversations specifically with Black families about adoption or building cultural connectivity with transracial families.”
Beyond serving as a way to continue this conversation, the Soiree offers an excellent opportunity to make lasting connections. From Cradle families to community members, the event brings together people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. “We’re bringing people together who would not otherwise be connected to the Cradle, but like the cause and want to support African American adoption,” says Nijole.
And of course, it’s a great way to meet more Cradle families. “I like being able to connect other parents who share common interests, children around the same age, similar professions or just the commonality of adoption,” says Nijole, herself a Sayers Center parent. “So many connections were made at the Soiree and I am certain that lifelong friendships were established.”
Nijole feels that the more information that’s out there about the Sayers Center—our goals and what we do—the more we will be able to touch families. Events like the Soiree help spread the word – and generate critical support.
“All of the money that we raise, all the fun that we have and all of the energy in the room, at the end of the day it goes to the babies we care for and the families we serve.”
The Cradle thanks everyone who helped make the fifth annual Sayers Summer Soiree a truly outstanding event!