Annual gala gives community the chance to celebrate 2017 winners

Published in the November 8 – 21, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Philanthropy Night winners from 2015 pose for a photo. This year’s event takes place Nov. 17. Photo by Susan Brazelton

With the falling of the leaves and the crisper mornings, autumn is time for the Morgan Hill Community Foundation’s Philanthropy Night, an annual gala to honor local residents who give of their time and talent at South Valley nonprofit organizations. This year’s event will be held Nov. 17 at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center and showcase 25 local philanthropists and volunteers.

The 2017 theme is “Celebrating People & Philanthropy in Our Community.” A participating nonprofit may select its honoree based on many possible reasons, including a person/group has volunteered for many hours or provided financial support. The nonprofits determine the criteria appropriate for its group, thereby making it a fair consideration no matter how small or large the nonprofit is. It is a fun evening when the community can celebrate together, with the evening all culminating as greater than the sum of the parts that go into hosting the event.

The MHCF hosts the event to put the spirit of philanthropy front and center, and give everyone a chance to thank the people who are the individuals working in the name of a greater cause, said the foundation’s board president, Pamala Meador.

“It is an opportunity to show our gratitude to the people who bring philanthropy to life in Morgan Hill,” she said. “There are countless non-profit organizations, large and small, that contribute day in and day out to our town. This event is a great way to bring everyone together, see the collective progress we are all making and raise money for charitable causes.”

One of the changes in this year’s gala is showing a video montage that showcases each nonprofit, its program(s), how it helps the community, and the contributions of their honorees. The montage gives the audience a chance to see the momentum that keeps the South Valley community moving forward. This year is also about making the honorees feel appreciated and recognized, even though some are so humble that they’d rather not be in the limelight.

The MHCF is a charitable organization that began in 2002 to connect donors with local needs. The foundation is funded solely through local contributions and is based on the work and commitment of an all-volunteer board. It focuses on six main areas: Arts & Culture, Recreation, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Humane Services, Science & Technology, and Environment & Agriculture.


“Each board member has a chance to make an impact every day, either through the Foundation’s own programs that run throughout the year, or in helping one of our partners that operates under the Foundation’s fiscal sponsorship,” Meador said. “It is sometimes forgotten that a dozen other nonprofits operate from our non-profit business platform. With that many programs and nonprofits operating under the foundation’s fiscal umbrella there is activity and progress every week, in one area or another.”

Some of the MHCF’s partners with events coming up are the Teachers Aid Coalition of Morgan Hill, the South Valley Athletic Foundation’s Wine Auction, and the Mizuho Morgan Hill Student Exchange Program, which will be sending middle school students to Japan next summer.

Each of the honorees at Philanthropy Night will be highlighted equally for their outstanding contributions, exemplifying generosity, selflessness and, sometimes, sacrifice, Meador said.

“It is the rare occasion when so many nonprofits come together in one space for one purpose. Most honorees don’t think of their time, effort or resources as an obligation or sacrifice,” she said. “Many have simply stated that they feel compelled to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  Giving is an investment that creates opportunities for positive change. They want to be a part of creating it and are glad to share it with each nominating nonprofit and ultimately everyone in Morgan Hill.”

Marty Cheek

Marty Cheek

Publisher at Morgan Hill Life
Marty Cheek is the publisher of Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life. He is also the co-author with Congressman Jerry McNerney of the book Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America From the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels.
Phone: (408) 782-7575
Marty Cheek