Open Hearts Gala Raises Funds for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

Unity 4 Orphans’ annual Open Hearts Gala was a success, raising funds to support orphaned and vulnerable children in Latin America and enabling us to expand our impact through in-country partners.

On Saturday, May 18, U4O’s leadership team and volunteers welcomed guests to the Grand Ballroom at The Prado in historic Balboa Park. This year, for the seventh annual gala, we opened the invitation to members of our community and we’re so thankful for the outpouring of support for the over 1,400 children in the six countries where we serve.


Annual Unity 4 Orphans Fundraiser Helps Children Living in Poverty


The Open Hearts Gala is always our biggest fundraiser of the year, and this year we raised the bar and set an ambitious goal to match our rapidly growing in-country partnerships and programs. Together we raised over $200,000 which allows us to make an impact in the lives of impoverished children through local partners who are embedded in the communities they serve.

We long to see a day where vulnerable children throughout Latin America are empowered and are able to thrive because they’ve broken free of the cycle of poverty. We can’t do it without you.
–Joe Brandi, Founder and Mission Director


San Diego Charity Holds Annual Open Hearts Gala at The Prado in Balboa Park


This year we invited our entire community to attend the gala and were thrilled to have over 270 guests join us in support of vulnerable children. The evening began with an outdoor cocktail hour where guests mingled, bid on incredible silent auction items, and enjoyed the classic “75 and sunny” San Diego climate.

Once inside the grand ballroom, the program included a warm welcome, delicious catered dinner, and festive ambiance thanks to the Master of Ceremonies and Auctioneer Jesse Shapiro. Following a presentation and heartfelt speeches from Founder Joe Brandi and Board Chairman Paul Polakowski, the spirited Live Auction and competitive paddle raise kept guests engaged and stirred excitement for the incredible impact we can make when we join forces.

The evening was a true team effort, which feels aligned with the spirit of Unity 4 Orphans! It takes so many people – in-country partners, donors, volunteers, board members and staff – to execute our mission of transforming the lives of vulnerable children. The gala involved so much collaboration, which makes its success even sweeter!
–Caitlin Snyder, Engagement Director

Also in attendance were Board Members Julie Bonnett and Chris Fromm, and leadership team members Dan Gossett and Caitlin Snyder. With the help of the gala committee, Caitlin coordinated many details for the event, helping U4O execute the most successful fundraiser in our 14-year history.

Breaking Cycles of Generational Poverty for Vulnerable Children Takes Teamwork


Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Ayham & Shannon Skaf each spring, what began as a private fundraising event years ago has evolved into a first-class gala to help raise more children than ever before out of poverty. We wouldn’t be able to grow and scale as rapidly without supporters who come alongside our mission and open their hearts.

Our Gala was a resounding success! Because of the generosity of existing and new supporters, we raised a record amount of funds. This blessing enables us to continue our mission of transforming the lives of vulnerable children in Latin America. We could not do this without our loving community of donors, staff, partners, and volunteers. Thank you!
–Paul Polakowski, Board Chairman


We appreciate every guest who helped make the gala a fun and memorable evening. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the funds we raised! Thank you for being a part of our community and we look forward to sharing all the ways we’re making an impact together. To keep up with all that U4O is doing for vulnerable children, sign up for our monthly newsletter, follow us on social media, and read our weekly blog.

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