Star power: Gov. Patrick and Pop Star Patti LaBelle help Mark Occasion

Keisha Whitaker, actress, model and cosmetic entrepreneur and wife of Academy Award- winning actor Forest Whitaker, and Patti Labelle, Grammy Award-winning singer and actress, received special awards for their philanthropic achievement at the Roca Breakfast.

Sponsored by TD Insurance, TD Bank, Palmer Paving Corporation and Greenberg Traurig LLP, Roca’s Sixth

Annual Breakfast Event took place Wednesday morning at the Seaport Boston Hotel. The breakfast’s featured guests included singer Patti LaBelle and model and actress Keisha Whitaker. The honorary chairman

of the breakfast was Governor Deval Patrick.

“I am honored and excited to support Roca and their work; it is so important to pay attention to a model that really works to save the lives of these young people, and they have outcomes to prove it,” stated Patti LaBelle.

“Roca’s work is so important in this world. They are a working on a solution that keeps young people alive. The young people we tend to forget about, Roca loves and nurtures.”

Roca is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that helps young people change their behaviors and rejoin mainstream society. Since its inception six years ago, Roca’s Annual Breakfast has steadily grown,

with last year’s event attended by more than 400 guests. The event theme this year, “Change Can Happen,” reflects the deeply held belief at Roca that a life can be turned around.

“Roca has tremendous support from a host of sources including law enforcement, private donors and philanthropies, as well as federal, state, and local government officials – and we are so grateful,” said Molly

Baldwin, founder and executive director of Roca. “The challenges our young people face today are greater than ever and we need to find more resources to help them. All of these supporters will help.”

Roca hoped that the breakfast would enhance its visibility within the leadership community of Greater Boston and that more leaders will join in the effort to move young people out of poverty and violence. Roca’s innovative intervention model uses long-term relationships, education and employment programming, and organizational partnerships to achieve sustainable individual and community change.

“We all need to play a part in ending violence, and Roca has set a great example for us all to follow,” said Jay Ash, Chelsea City Manager. “Roca helps thousands of young people improve their lives and we are grateful. I hope we come together to defeat youth violence and help high-risk young people to live healthier and more productive lives.”

Ash was a recipient of the 2011 Vichey Phuong Peace Award in recognition of his outstanding support of Roca and for leading many statewide initiatives on health, youth violence, and public safety.

Sulai Rosa, a participant in Roca, was also a recipient of Vichey Phoung Peace Award. Rosa, who has   overcome struggles in her childhood to become a productive and hard-working member of the community, is giving back by working at ROCA with her peers on violence prevention. She is also a mentor to participants in the program.

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