Dubbed ‘Paulapalooza,’ the May 9th celebration honoring West End Neighborhood House’s Paul Calistro was equal parts heartfelt gratitude and good natured ribbing. Paul’s closest friends had no shortage of material for their skits, videos and remarks, which left the 265 guests in tears as they celebrated Paul’s 25th year as Executive Director of WENH.
Even Governor Jack Markell shared a few funny remarks about his friend. He also presented Paul with the Order of the First State, which is the highest civilian honor. Other guests included Carla Markell, Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, as well as Congressman John Carney and Mike Castle turned out for the celebration which was held at the Baby Grand. Led by chairs Daphne & Phil Reese, along with co-chairs Ashley Biden, Linda and Rob Harra, Ellen and Alan Levin, Marilyn and Skip Pennella, and Jocelyn and Jim Stewart, the evening’s focus included genuine affirmations of Paul’s positive impact throughout the state to humorous stories of his mannerisms and past mishaps (supported by a PowerPoint presentation of hilariously photo-shopped images).
Throughout the night, there was a palpable sense of goodwill and spirit of celebration. Said long-time former staff member Joan Fultz, “I am at a loss for words to describe the love, kindred spirit, connectedness and dedication to humanity that was witnessed by each and every person in the room.” The event raised $120,000, which will help support the valuable community services West End staff have provided for over 130 years.