Marrakech's 15th Annual Gala a Huge Success!

On Saturday, November 14, 2015, Marrakech, Inc.’s 15th Annual Gala took place at the Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange, CT. This year, the party took on the Great Gatsby as a theme and guests arrived ready for some 1920’s-inspired fun.

The event was our most well-attended gala to date, with over 270 guests present. This was in large part due to the hardworking honorary chairs of Marrakech’s 2015 Gala, Debra and Richard Epstein of L.H. Brenner Inc./Thompson and Peck Insurance, who led a dedicated working committee composed of community members and Marrakech employees responsible for making sure there were interesting auction items, entertaining  music, and enough inspiration to motivate guests to give generously to the organization.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the event is the opportunity to educate guests on the work that Marrakech does in the community. William Boateng, the keynote speaker for the evening, succeeded in doing this simply by telling his own personal story. Boateng lived in various foster homes throughout his childhood. When he first came to Marrakech at age 18, he had difficulty communicating with and trusting staff as well as others, which made managing relationships difficult and hindered his overall independence.  Boateng, now 23 years old, said, “Since coming to Marrakech, I have made so much progress. People tell me I’m a different person and I am.  I am happy and I have positive plans for the future. Tomorrow I will be moving into my very own apartment. If it weren’t for Marrakech, I may have been going to jail.” This was the inspiration the guests needed to help the organization surpass its financial goals for the evening.

For almost 45 years, Marrakech has been providing person-centered, unique and cost effective supports to children and adults with and without disabilities across Connecticut. Marrakech assists individuals who face barriers to securing employment, connecting to necessary supportive services, accessing safe and affordable housing, and participating fully as contributing members of their communities. To learn more about Marrakech, Inc. visit www.marrakechinc.org.

Debra and Richard Epstein of L.H. Brenner Inc./Thompson and Peck Insurance chaired Marrakech’s 15th Annual Gala & Auction

Marrakech President & CEO, Heather LaTorra, poses with Gala keynote speaker, William Boateng, who inspired guests that evening with his personal story of success.

Photo Credit: Larry Brownstein


For almost a decade, Marrakech has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at our Whalley Avenue site in New Haven for the people we support who have no other place to go on the holiday. The event started as a project of retired Marrakech employee, John White. Marrakech’s Director of Employment Services, Patrick Shaw helped out each year and since John’s retirement has taken over as coordinator of the feast.

This year, Marrakech served dinner to over 150 people. This was only possible because of a generous outpouring of community support. One such supporter was the New Haven office of Marcum, LLP. Based on a suggestion by Marcum employee and Marrakech Board member, Ann Arpino, 25 Marcum employees showed up at Marrakech the day before Thanksgiving to help with food prep and set up.  Several Marrakech employees along with their families and friends donated their favorite dishes to the meal and volunteered to help serve on Thanksgiving Day.

To learn more about Marrakech, Inc. visit www.marrakechinc.org. To learn more about Marcum, LLP visit http://www.marcumllp.com/

Marrakech President & CEO, Heather LaTorra with Marrakech employee Victoria Gribko and Marrakech Board member Ann Arpino (right) from Marcum LLP, who recommended Marrakech as a volunteer site.

Marrakech President & Heather (left) is proud to pose with Michele Dubois, chef and manager of Marrakech's Village Cafe, where the Marcum volunteers lunched after their busy morning of volunteering and Marrakech employee Patrick Shaw, who has been spearheading the annual Thanksgiving event for several years, serving more and more people with help and donations from Marrakech employees, board members, neighbors, and volunteers.