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From left, The Reverend Matthew Calkins of Grace Church Millbrook presented Innisfree Garden and Innisfree Landscape Curator Kate Kerin with an award on Monday, Aug. 15, a hand-painted plate depicting Innisfree and other tokens of appreciation. Kerin and Grace Church have worked together for several years to coordinate the annual Blessing of Sacred Places at the world-renowned garden. Photo by Judith O'Hara Balfe

Grace Church honors those who serve at annual gala

PAWLING — Monday, Aug. 15, was a beautiful summer day, perfect for the 15th Annual Grace Golf and Dinner Benefit for Grace Church Millbrook. This year, the event was held at the Quaker Hill Country Club in Pawling.

Following a day of golf, croquet and other games (for more on the day’s athletic events, see Grace Church Millbrook deems 15th Annual Golf Outing a hit), the gala was held in the rustic clubhouse, full of historic mementos. With a gourmet dinner that included dishes such as a savory short rib gnocchi, salmon, chicken or a vegetarian selection, the meal was rounded out with a delectable strawberry shortcake. Music was provided by local musician Peter Muir — a crowd favorite. Capping off the event was the presentation of the Pillar of Grace Honorees.

The Pillar of Grace award went to John Byron, a 95-year-old Navy veteran who served in both World War II and Korea. He then spent 30 years serving in the NYC Police Department, retiring as a sergeant. Byron has been a supporting presence at Grace Church for many years. He shared a few stories about his life and his time serving the church.

The Community Builder award was presented to Kate Kerin and Innisfree Garden; Kerin is the garden’s landscape curator. Innisfree, recognized around the world as a top garden, has hosted the annual Blessing of Sacred Places ecumenical service for the past several years.

Kerin has worked with The Rev. Matthew Calkins and others in the community to gather people of all faiths together to pray in the garden, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The dinner also offered a raffle drawing, a 50/50 drawing and a silent auction, as the event was part fundraiser. Close to 60 donors contributed to the auction with special donations. Local businesses that donated included Adams Fairacre Farms, Orvis Sandanona and J.McLaughlin. Some not-so-local contributions came from Mystic Seaport, the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Paramount Theater.

Co-chairs for the golf and dinner event were Pamela Freeman and Linda Boissey.

“The tournament and dinner went fabulously,” said Freeman. “We had a beautiful sunny day and everyone had a good time. Our honorees John Byron and Innisfree Garden [Kate Kerin] received the accolades they so deserve and our family of parishioners gathered in thankfulness and with grace.”

All in all, 17 sponsors, a mass of devoted parishioners and many others helped make this year’s fundraiser a special time  for everyone, said Freeman. The pleasant day, peppered with food and fun throughout, has and will continue to help fund many of the programs Grace Church offers to the community throughout the year.

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