More than 200 people attended ESTHER’s 12th annual banquet on Sunday evening, November 13, making the event one of the largest in ESTHER history. Attendees included elected officials, faith leaders, community award recipients and their guests, WISDOM and ESTHER staff, and ESTHER members and friends from throughout the Fox Valley. At a time of great uncertainty and change in our nation and state, it was good to be together. It was also good to recommit ourselves to the values and hopes we share as we work together for a better future.
Keynote speaker Dee J. Hall, managing editor of the non-profit Wisconsin Center for Investigating Journalism, described the work of the Center in protecting the vulnerable, exposing wrongdoing, and fixing problems in our state. The image of brown water emerging from a kitchen faucet in Kewaunee County is seared in our memory! The Center is one of the first state-based investigative journalism centers in the county, serving as a model for similar efforts in other states.
ESTHER presented its community leadership awards for 2016 to FIT Oshkosh, for its work in promoting racial literacy, and to Norys Piña, for her leadership in organizing Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Fox Valley.
ESTHER Organizer Bill Van Lopik explained ESTHER’s intent to publish a statement of witness in the Appleton Post-Crescent in the coming weeks. The purpose of the statement is to give voice to ESTHER’s values of the inherent dignity of each person, fair treatment for all, compassion, mutual respect, and the practice of hope. An overwhelming number of those attending the banquet agreed to sign on as sponsors of the statement and contributed generously towards the cost. The statement was published in the Appleton Post-Crescent on Sunday, December 4.
The annual ESTHER banquet, including ticket sales, silent auction, and advertisers in our program book, generates nearly 20 percent of ESTHER’s operating revenue each year. In 2016, after expenses, we raised $16,669 for our work. We thank the banquet sponsor, Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, as well as attendees, advertisers, and silent auction patrons, for their commitment to our mission.