After our guests enjoyed lunch, the full program began with a video from presenting sponsor AT&T that featured its Believe Chicago initiative and a special message from AT&T Illinois President and Mercy Home Board of Regents member Eileen Mitchell. Jim Williams announced that the company created a new award at Mercy Home honoring a 47-year AT&T employee and Mercy Home Board of Regents member, Bill Gainer, who passed away earlier this year. The award will be called the Bill Gainer Spirit of Service Award, presented by AT&T, and the winner will be announced later this month.
Williams also shared the winner of another award that honors the founder of the Leader Council, Mary Dempsey. The award is given to a young person who exhibits leadership, academic achievement, and perseverance. This year’s award was given to Clemente, who will graduate with his associate degree and begin attending DePaul University this fall.
A video was then shown about one of our former residents, Reggie, who shared the story of how he found stability and success because of his time at our Home. Reggie then took the stage in person to look back at his life’s journey since Mercy Home and his own youth keynote speech at the Graduates Luncheon in 2008.
“It’s hard to believe [it was 11 years ago], but life moves fast when you’re having fun,” he said. “Adventures I never could have imagined. A bachelor’s degree earned. A master’s degree on the horizon. Thirty-eight countries in six continents visited. Three promotions in five years at my job. None of it would be possible were it not for the belief I gained in myself at St. Ignatius, at Emory, and of course, at Mercy Home. Education opened so many doors and awakened me to so many possibilities, and Mercy Home gave me the courage to walk through them.”