On November 15, the Law Center hosted its 14th Annual McKinney-Vento Awards at the Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Washington, D.C. A celebration of outstanding contributions to the fight to end homelessness, this year's event also marked the 25th anniversary of the McKinney-Vento Act.
Emmy® Award winner, philanthropist and Food Network celebrity Sandra Lee received this year's Stewart B. McKinney Award
for her tireless work to end childhood hunger and bring stability to homeless families. In an emotional acceptance speech, Lee shared her firsthand experience with poverty and reaffirmed her support for the Law Center's goal to end homelessness in America.
This year's Bruce F. Vento Award
was shared by Rhode Island Senator John Tassoni, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, and Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project for their leadership in passing the nation's first-ever "Homeless Bill of Rights." U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) accepted the award on Tassoni's behalf, while Jim Ryczek of the Coalition and John Joyce of the Advocacy Project spoke with pride about the groundbreaking law. They were introduced by Sue Vento, widow of the late Congressman after whom the award is named and a longtime friend of the Law Center.
D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton presented the Pro Bono Service Award
to Covington & Burling, which helped advocate for the McKinney-Vento Act in 1987 and has provided the Law Center critical pro bono support since its inception. Navigant
accepted the Pro Bono Assistance Award
for working alongside Covington to protect the rights of homeless service providers.
Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA) presented the Personal Achievement Award
to Danae Vachata, a young woman who spoke openly about her struggle to overcome homelessness with the Law Center's help. Vachata is the founder and president of the Bell Fund
, which helps homeless and at-risk youth access post-secondary education.
The evening closed with an excerpt from American Winter
, an upcoming documentary by filmmakers Harry and Joe Gantz. The film, which follows eight families' struggle to survive in the wake of the economic and foreclosure crises, brings home the consequences of public policy for individual human beings.
Rebecca Cooper, reporter for ABC 7 in D.C., served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening. The Law Center is grateful to Ms. Cooper and to all our honorees and presenters for their tremendous work.We also want to sincerely thank all of the sponsors and supporters who made this event possible.
Your continued generosity is making a difference in the lives of millions of homeless and poor people every day.
The McKinney-Vento Awards were a chance to celebrate victories, reaffirm our commitment, and raise critical funds for the Law Center's continued work to end homelessness in America. We hope you'll join us
in finishing the job.