John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, venue for the 2011 Solas Awards Celebration.

By Niamh Lynch

Have you been agonizing over the perfect Christmas gift for someone special? The chances are that rather than receiving a material “thing,” what they would most like is to spend some time in your company, perhaps for a nice evening in town.

What if, in one swoop, you could contribute to a terrific cause and give them an experience to remember? December 2 marks what will be a highlight of the Christmas social calendar – the IIIC’s Solas Awards Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. The program for the night has now been finalized, and all signs are that guests are in for something very special.

Doors will open at 5:30 pm and those arriving early will be free to wander around the museum’s storied exhibit halls. Once 6:00 pm comes, everyone can begin enjoying the open bar and gourmet dishes on offer at a variety of food stations. Guests will then be welcomed to the Smith Center, where the formal program will be directed by MC for the evening and WCVB broadcasting legend, Mary Richardson. Consul General of Ireland Michael Lonergan will also deliver remarks on behalf of the Irish Government.

Vicki Kennedy has become an authoritative and influential voice on healthcare and immigration reform, issues which were dear to her late husband, Senator Ted Kennedy, and which are at the heart of the IIIC’s agenda. It is particularly appropriate then that it is Vicki who will officially welcome guests to an event honoring three individuals who have done so much to further these important issues over the years.

Ralph De La Torre, M.D (CEO of Steward Healthcare System) will be presented with an award by Jack Connors Jr.; Eva A. Millona, ESQ. (Executive Director of the MA Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition) will be presented with an award by former MA state senator Mari St. Fleur; and Fr. Daniel Finn (Pastor of St. Mark’s Parish in Dorchester) will be presented with an award by parishioner Alyce Lee.

Of course, no celebration would be complete without music, song, and dance, and throughout the evening guests will enjoy entertainment from some of the area’s most talented artists, including the Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy’s string ensemble, soloist Mary Henderson, uilleann piper Frank Gibbons, the Peggy Woods School of Irish Dancing, and Berklee College of Music artists Wambura Mitaru (Kenya), Megan Graney (California), Aleksandra Denda (Serbia), and Sterling Sherman (Texas).

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or for a way to give back, the Solas Awards Celebration will be an evening to remember and a chance to show both your Irish pride and your support for immigrants past and present. Come and celebrate with us.

For further details on the Solas Awards Dinner, seat purchases, and sponsorship opportunities, please call Mary Kerr at 617.695.1554 or e-mail mkerr@iiicenter.org.