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Point Scholars honored at fundraiser
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2012-08-14

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Kayla Wingert and Alyssa Mandula. Photo by Steve Starr


Nearly 200 people attended the Chicago Cornerstone Society Point Foundation fundraising event at The James Chicago Aug. 8 to support Point Foundation and Point scholars from the Chicago area.

Guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers as they chatted with current scholars and alumni of the program ahead of a presentation by the foundation. Two of the five Chicagoland area scholars were in attendance that evening: Alyssa Mandula and Kayla Wingert.

Doug Regan, executive sponsor of LGBT practice at Northern Trust, was the host for the evening. His wife, ABC-7 news anchor Kathy Brock, was slated to be the host; however, she was unable to attend due to a case of food poisoning. Regan said that Northern Trust is very serious and passionate about its work with the LGBT community. He also sent along his wife's regrets at not being able to attend the event. "The LGBT community is a major part of our family," he said. "We live it every single day and we are proud of our family and what LGBT means to our family. ... On behalf of Kathy and I, we are very glad to be here."

In her remarks, Wingert—who will be attending Johnson and Wales University of Providence, R.I., in the fall—spoke about her success in creating and presenting a mandatory LGBTQ awareness and sensitivity workshop to her entire Catholic high school staff. She related that this success came after her efforts to create a GSA at her school were denied by school administrators. Although Wingert's initial attempts to improve the lives of LGBTQ students—she came out during her sophomore year—at her school was rebuffed, she said, "my efforts truly did create a positive chain reaction" due to her perseverance.

"When I applied for the scholarship last year I couldn't possibly fathom that this is where I would be standing today," she added. "I couldn't dream that such a supportive group of people would look at me and see all the potential for success that I had. I couldn't imagine that I would be able to go to college this fall. I couldn't continue my chain reaction without Point Foundation's support."

Rohan Barrett—a Point Foundation alumnus and associate director of development at the Mikva Challenge—related that "at the age of 16 I had overstayed my travel visa (he is from Jamaica), been kicked out of my home for being gay, had moved in with a friend and her lesbian parents and about to enter my senior year of high school. It was, to say the least, a troublesome period." His story was chronicled in an About Face Youth Theater production while he was still in high school.

Of the application process Barrett said, "Here I am, crying in front of a group of 15 successful gay men and women. Attempting to share my journey, fears and hope for the future. Whether I'd be able to attend college and stay in the country. Little did I know at the time, that I had reached a crossroad ... Looking back at these 10 years, it is no surprise what got me to where I am today. The foundation provided much needed financial support for college and through their mentorship program they made it possible for me to meet the folks I can my parents today."

Raffle items included a night-on-the-town package, a Toronto trip and a Palm Springs, Calif., getaway. Guests who were currently members of the Cornerstone Society or became members that evening were eligible to win one of these items.

See www.pointfoundation.org for more information.


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