A crowd of more than 400 people packed the community center at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church Jan. 25 to raise funds for FOCUS, which stands for the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve.
The evening titled “Restore Living Icons” featured dinner, live and silent auctions and keynote speaker, Theodora Polamalu, wife of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.
FOCUS, which also stands for food, occupation, clothing, understanding and shelter, provides outreach to those in need.
The main focus for the event was to raise funds to open a FOCUS center in the Pittsburgh area, which could be open by as early as this summer. The organization is looking to possibly open the first FOCUS Pittsburgh center in the Hill District.
“We work to serve the poor,” said Thea Martin, president of the Ladies Philoptochos society at Holy Cross, which organized the event. She added that the Jan. 25 dinner was the first-ever FOCUS Pittsburgh event.
“By serving the needy, we are humbled and truly blessed,” Polamalu said in her speech, adding that a FOCUS center locally could alleviate the suffering of many.
In addition to Polamalu’s speech, the evening featured speeches by Father Justin Mathews, executive director of FOCUS North America, Paul Abernathy, director of FOCUS Pittsburgh and Charles Ajalat, founder of FOCUS.
Attendees also had the chance to bid on several silent auction items, including jewelry and Steelers items.
Eight people won a live auction and the chance to sit at a table with Troy and Theodora Polamalu and have dessert at the end of the evening, which raised more than $11,000 for FOCUS. A signed Polamalu jersey fetched $5,200 and two tickets to the Steelers home opener next season, which were donated by the Polamalus, went for $1,200.