Parenthood for Me Annual Gala
The event started at 6:30 with cocktail hour meet and greet and time to bid on the silent auction. Dinner was served at 8 and the program began at 9:00.
Charles Montante- Chairman
Erica Schlaefer- President
Kevin Mulcahy- Vice President
Rob Spatola- Treasurer
Our honorary guests were the Wetherald Family who received a grant last year. Mr. Wetherald wanted to say a few words that night explaining how they came to be adoptive parents. I wish I could share the entire speech with you as it was very touching. I found out that when they received the call that they were a grantee, the call could not have come at a better time. They were trying to pool together the last few thousand dollars for their trip to China. Just when they thought that they would have to push the trip another month to collect money, our Chairman called to tell them they were receiving a grant. They were able to pick up their son.
We also honored Dr. Eberhard Muechler with the 2011 Commitment to Excellence Award. He was the first doctor to perform in vitro fertilization in Rochester at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He spent 43 years assisting couples in becoming parents. Dr. Muechler is a warm, funny, and caring man. It has been such a pleasure getting to know him. I also wish I could share his entire speech with you. But I must mention that his opening paragraph said that when asked to receive our award, he was placed in a tough spot because Prince William had invited him to the royal wedding as well and he had to decline to come to our gala. What a great sense of humor! The inaugural Commitment to Excellence Award went to our Vice President, Kevin Mulcahy for his dedication to building Parenthood for Me. My speech was short but expressed my gratitude for all those who helped to make Parenthood for Me such a great success in just 2 years.
Since infertility became a part of my life I have learned many lessons about the hidden gifts bestowed from enduring difficult times. Becoming an adoptive parent and being forced to fight for parenthood has opened up my life in countless ways.
Starting a nonprofit with the help of my husband AJ and many different people who were already in my life at the time and who came into my may just be the most rewarding experience of my life next to being a mother. The human kindness I have witnessed since starting this foundation never ceases to amaze me. It started with a new friend taking me to dinner and sharing her wisdom of the nonprofit world with me. When she handed me $100 dollars and claimed it as her donation, I was brought to tears. Practically a stranger she gave me something more than money but the claim that she believed in me and what I was fighting for.
I am still in shock at the response I have received nationwide due to starting Parenthood for Me. The support from strangers and people I will never meet in real life. The kind words, the respect and admiration for doing something that I believe in. Those who have stepped forward either because they too have suffered through infertility or because they opened their heart to those struggling to have a family.
There was a time when I simply did not understand the challenge of not being able to conceive a child. It’s a blow so unexpected it takes your breathe away. Procreating is such a natural part of being human. When you are forced to come to terms with the fact that it may never happen, you are giving up a large piece of yourself. However, the hole left in my heart has been filled beyond capacity. I receive emails daily thanking me for following through on an idea and making it happen. I try to explain that I could never have done this on my own. I could never have followed through with the idea that came to AJ and I one night after our son had been home for a few months. The board of directors, the professionals that help set up the corporation, each person that tweeted, blogged, and told their friends about PFM have helped this organization grow so fast. I feel extremely lucky for many reasons. I am surrounded by wonderful people. I have a beautiful son and am proud to say AJ and I are expecting another baby boy from Korea in December.
But at the ripe age of 31 I found my place in this world. I began to understand why I am here, my purpose. Who knows exactly why I was able to take my difficult times and make them into something positive. But forming this organization and giving back has given me an inner peace that many search for their entire lives.
To quote the book “Many Lives, Many Masters” by Dr. Brian Weiss, MD, “Patience and timing. Everything comes when it must come. A life cannot be rushed, cannot be worked on a schedule as so many people want it to be. We must accept what comes to us at a given time, and not ask for more. Time is not as we see time but rather in lessons that are learned.” Thank you for your support. You are helping a fledgling nonprofit take flight. You are laying the ground work for hundreds of people to receive a gift of hope that parenthood is possible.
Erica and AJ Schlaefer- Founders
Thank you to all donors and sponsors. You can find them listed on our website.
We look forward to announcing our 2011 grantees.
To donate to Parenthood for Me click here.