Beloved Benefit raises $6.3 million for local nonprofits
By Maria Saporta
After a two-year hiatus, the 2022 Beloved Benefit filled the field of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with more than 2,000 attendees representing all sides of Atlanta.
The July 7 dinner, hosted and presented by Atlanta philanthropists Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, and Dan Cathy, chairman of Chick-fil-A, has raised a total of $6.3 million so far to donate to a host of nonprofits working on fostering greater economic mobility among its residents.
All the costs of the event were covered by Cathy and Blank, so all the money raised will be distributed to the selected nonprofit organizations.
The night was quite the spectacle with uplifting performances by Maroon 5 and its lead singer Adam Levine as well as Atlanta’s own Usher. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy, Atlanta television legend Monica Kaufman Pearson and other celebrities also added to the night’s star quality.
Several dignitaries attended the event, including Bernice King, the youngest child of Coretta and Martin Luther King Jr. who is also CEO of the King Center.
Rodney Bullard, executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation who also serves as the company’s vice president of corporate social responsibility, helped organize the event with the help of Shan Cooper, former executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress.
Bullard said the goal was for the dinner to be an inclusive rather than an exclusive event, saying 30 percent of the tickets were handed out to community members and to nonprofits trying to create greater economic mobility in Atlanta.
“This is family style,” Bullard said of the long tables where people of different backgrounds sat next to each other. “This is to exhibit the common table. You can come as you are. This is not a black-tie event. This is a party.”
In fact, some people came dressed in business suits, others in blue jeans and some wore evening gowns — another sign of the diversity in the crowd.
Blank, who was out of town for the event, said in a video that the community is still “infused” with the spirit of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. In his last book, “Community or Chaos,” Blank said King presented the choices we have in deciding how we want to live.
In the same video, Cathy talked about the disparities between Buckhead and Bankhead, neighborhoods where life expectancies are as varied as the average income. He also referenced the words that the late John Lewis shared at the 2019 Beloved Benefit: “We are all one family.”
The major nonprofits listed as beneficiaries of the 2022 Beloved Benefit included: Atlanta Career Rise, Center for Employment Opportunities, the Goodr Foundation, Goodwill of North Georgia, Latin American Association, Quest Community Development Organization, the Village Market and the Westside Future Fund. A host of other nonprofits also received smaller grants.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens also highlighted the “one people, one family” theme of the evening.
“We are one people, and we all need each other,” Dickens said. “Tonight is the definition of a party with a purpose.”
Foxworthy was uncharacteristically serious when he spoke to the gathering.
“Being a good neighbor is a spiritual thing,” said Foxworthy, who added how he loves Atlanta’s diversity. “The way you change the world is you change your block, you change your street and you change your community.”
Then repeating metro Atlanta’s dismal track record of economic mobility, Foxworth said, “that is not okay,” adding that it’s our generation that has the “baton in our hand” to make a difference.
“We can do this people,” Foxworthy said. “We can do this people. Let’s love on each other. Let this city be the example.”
Bullard, in a quick telephone interview on Wednesday to provide the final numbers said plans are already in the works for a 2023 Beloved Benefit. The Beloved fundraising efforts will be open until Aug. 30.
Leave a Comment