It was a pleasure to return to the  Hilton Hotel Stamford Downtown to photograph buildOn's 21st Anniversary Celebration. buildOn's founder and CEO, Jim Ziolkowski has always described his organization not as a charity, but as a movement.  

[For more information regarding buildOn please visit:]

The anniversary event centered around the launching of buildOn's "Breaking the Cycle" campaign.  How can one "break the cycle" of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations of youth living in less fortunate circumstances?

buildOn's response: through service and education. 

Prior to the event, buildOn members, wrote down personal pledges of how they planned to take action against poverty. These pledges were then placed on the mezzanine wall of the hotel/event.  As guests entered, they were invited to fill out their own pledge cards siting their personal commitment to "breaking the cycle."

Simultaneously, a silent auction was being held:

Co-hosts, co-emcees for the evening were buildOn's COO, Mark Friedman (right), and buildOn alum, Junior de la Cruz: 

In attendance, the University of Connecticut Women's Basketball Head Coach, Geno Auriemma: 

buildOn founder, Jim Ziolkowski (right) with the previous year's (2011) honoree, Keith Sherin, Vice Chairman and CFO of General Electric:

Jim Ziolkowski then took the podium to speak of buildOn's foundation and progress over the last 21 years.  He was followed by student speakers, Genesis Aquino and Eddie Bonner, as well as others giving personal and professional testimonies of their connections with buildOn:

Over 21 years, buildOn had successfully reached the milestone of building 500 schools worldwide. They dedicated this accomplishment to General Electric's CFO, Jeff Bornstein:

Also, between the years of service and the multiple volunteers, buildOn calculated that they had achieved 1,000,000 hours of public service. They dedicated this accomplishment to General Electric Treasurer, Kathy Cassidy: 

Lastly, was an auction and student appeal, featuring such an awesome auctioneer, Ed Gold, of Reynolds and Buckley:

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