I donât know where I would have gone, on a cold mid-November Saturday in Moscow, but to the Ritz Carlton Tverskaya. And I had a good reason for that, just like over 300 others: as tradition has it, its doors opened again this year to MPC Social Services Harvest Ball.
Elegant attire, Champaign reception, speeches, dinner, live and silent auctions, music, dance. Itâs all beautiful, exciting, and important: 1/3 of the MPC Social Services annual budget is constituted by the Gala proceeds to benefit immigrants, refugees, single-parent families and pensioners in Moscow. This yearsâ Harvest ball was sponsored by Baker Botts (Platinum Sponsor), Coca-Cola, Moscow Brewing Company, Russian Standard Vodka, Villa Vinifera Wine Cellar (Silver Sponsors), and the dinner was cooked by the talented Ritz-Carlton kitchen. Numerous leaders from the business and diplomatic communities were in attendance, including Australian Ambassador Paul Myler and his wife Angela; Irish Ambassador Eoin OâLeary and his wife Anne Delaney; Mr. Mark Neukomm, general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, and his wife Kaoru; Mr. Stephen Ansell, general manager of the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow, and his wife Claire; Mr. Glenn Waller, president of ExxonMobil Russia, and his wife Agnes; Mr. Rick Witt, general manager of Cameron, and his wife Leslie; Rev.Clive Fairclough, Chaplain of St Andrews Church, and his wife Joanna; Bishop Eduard Khegay of the United Methodist Church and his wife Victoria Nogay; principal dancer at Kremlyovsky Ballet, Joy Womack, and many other guests from the Russian and expat diplomatic, business and art community. Powered by MPC Social Services staff and a group of volunteers, the event was a success, having raised at least $86,000.
âThough itâs the sixth Harvest Ball, itâs the first for MPC Social Services to celebrate their own harvest!â, Rick Witt (GM at Cameron, President of MPC church council), says. âThis year, MPC broke new ground with the Seeds of Hope Farm.â The Farm is a community-supported agriculture project that brings together farmers and consumers of organic, sustainably grown produce in the Moscow Oblast, with staff members Andrew Grenfell and Andy Millman in charge. Throughout the season, UNHCR refugees, MPC community members, farm share-holders, AAS students, and some volunteers worked on the farm.
The MPC Social Services team: Rev. Matthew Laferty, Immani Burg, Andrew and Penny Grenfell, Rick Witt, Andy Millman, Kendra Twenter, and over 20 volunteers â have put their best effort, skill, talent, time and inspiration into planning and organizing the Gala.
The band stopped playing, the lights in the ballroom went on, and the guests started leaving, many of them carrying the works of art they had bought.
This year, the Galaâs decoration theme were roses. As I was leaving, I saw a rose on the floor. Picking it up, I thought of Oscar Wildeâs âRose and Nightingaleâ, where the author seems to be questioning whether itâs worth doing anything with noble intentions. Yes, it is. The work of MPC social services is living proof to that.
For more information, opportunities and contacts, please visit http://mpcss.org/
Special thanks to Immani Burg