The Seventh Annual BMCC St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, benefitting the BMCC Student Emergency Fund, was held on March 16 in Richard Harris Terrace.
It featured a traditional Irish buffet—corned beef and cabbage—as well as professional Irish dancers from the Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance.
Proving the old saying that “everyone is Irish,” the dance program even featured BMCC professor of Italian Kristina Varade.
Everyone giving in different ways
A full house of attendees paid $25 each to join the St. Patrick’s Day event. Part of the luncheon’s appeal each year—and a nod to the proverbial Luck of the Irish—is a loudly applauded raffle.
Winners took home BMCC T-shirts, caps and lanyards from the Barnes & Noble campus store. One guest collected a $25 gift certificate from Duane Park Patisserie; six attendees were given signed books from The Mysterious Bookshop and two won gift certificates from Tribeca Pizzeria. Two tickets to the NYC Comedy Show were handed out, as was a $50 gift certificate to the Tribeca Tap House and four $10 gift certificates to the popular TriBeCa restaurant, Woodrow’s.
“Our big prize was a $250 gift card from Century 21,” said BMCC Computer Information Systems office assistant Kim O’Donnell, who canvases the BMCC neighborhood each year for donated gifts.
The buffet luncheon from MBJ Food Services was donated by a generous individual on campus who asked to remain anonymous, said O’Donnell.
“This year as well as last,” she added, “Bridy Diviney, the mother-in-law of James Boyle, an administrator in Building and Grounds, donated fresh-baked loaves of Irish soda bread. So, people contribute what they can, in all their different ways.”
Reaching out to the entire community
The St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon is a testament to the power of people coming together from across the BMCC campus around a common cause.
In this case, that cause was the BMCC Student Emergency Fund, which provides financial assistance to students who have immediate, temporary needs—like the cost of a monthly Metrocard—that can make the difference between dropping out or completing their semester.
“I think the smaller fundraising events on campus, like the St. Patrick’s Day luncheon, really engage the entire community and welcome people who might not attend the larger scale events,” says Kinshasa (Sasha) Best, Manager of Alumni Affairs and Events in the BMCC Office of College Development.
“It’s our way of reaching out to faculty and staff who are eager to support services that benefit the students they care about, and work with on a daily basis.”
Media Center director John Gallagher, another organizer of the event, elaborated on that point.
“One of the good things is that it’s a very inclusive event, not just in terms of ethnicity but in terms of job title,” he said, adding that participants range from faculty, to employees working in Buildings and Grounds, to college assistants, HEOS and students.
“It really ties a lot of the community together, and what they all have in common is that they care about BMCC students,” Gallagher said.
Celebrating the contributions of immigrants
Organizers of the event also included Kay Conway, Robert Cox and Pat Malloy Splendore.
The event, in its seventh year, was started by John Gallagher and his friend Terrence Dunne, who is on staff in the College Computer Center.
“We started it because the economy had started to tank, and a lot of our students were having a hard time,” he says.
He also points out that since BMCC is a campus attended by students from over 150 countries, “they’re like so many earlier generations of immigrants—including the Irish—who left their home countries and brought their skills and talent to America.”