Since 2000, the Idealist Dinner has served as a fun opportunity for City Year Philadelphia to engage with civic and business leaders within Philadelphia. This year’s Idealist Dinner was held at the Crystal Tea Room at the Wanamaker Building on Wednesday, May 24th. 100 City Year AmeriCorps Members had the chance to mingle with guests, many sharing stories of what service looks like on a daily basis in 18 different schools. 

The presentation during dinner showcased City Year's  accomplishments over the past ten months. Additionally, Karen Keating Mara was celebrated and recognized as the Idealist of the Year. Co-founding this exact event, 17 years ago is only one of her many accomplishments. Currently, she serves as the Co-Chair of City Year Philadelphia’s Board.  

A view into the world of City Year paired with the celebration of Karen’s idealism and dedication made for a truly spectacular night. Here are some of the highlights: 


When the Power Greeters lined the entrance to the dining room, it was a magical moment. Seeing the guests’ reactions brought me back to the first time that I was met with Power Greeting. It is an exciting, but also slightly surprising occurrence. Smiles appeared on the faces of all of the guests as they entered.  


Four students who are served by City Year in their schools made their special guest appearances. Shining bright, each child confidently shared with the audience their own personal connection to City Year.  


In congratulating Karen, there was the enormous surprise of a video message from Conan O’Brian. He spoke to her character and achievements. O’Brian then fondly reminisced about when they met at a wedding years ago.  


Karen’s children took the stage and shared with the room how dedicated their mother is to service. Her son spoke of the many service days they had served growing up. It was a heartwarming introduction when he then invited his mother on stage.  


The Beloved Community was a main theme of Karen’s address to the crowd. With love, she thanked countless parties who had a hand in her success. 


The final highlight of the night was the announcement that, from all the support the community gave, the Idealist Dinner helped City Year raise $595,000! Our appreciation for this support is immense. Thank you to all the guests and to all of the City Year staff and Corps who together made this such a special night. To see more event photos, click here.

Written by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member, Jillian Roth

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