Heart of Gold Gala.

Department of Surgery Shows its Heart of Gold

Published December 5, 2019

Inaugural gala raises $10,000 for the Haven House of Buffalo.


The University at Buffalo community donated $10,000 to the Haven House of Buffalo at the UB Association of Women’s Surgeons (AWS) and Department of Surgery’s inaugural Heart of Gold Gala.

The Nov. 7 gala, organized by surgical resident and UB AWS president, Kelly Wagner, MD, was a night of glitz, glamor and giving. When each of the 155 guests arrived, they were greeted by a table covered in art projects and shoes. The “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” exhibit displayed artwork and testimonies of domestic abuse survivors who found refuge at Haven House. Haven House representatives attended the event to give their thanks and answer any questions regarding their work.

Desmond Truesdale, Haven House’s children’s program supervisor, said Haven House is the only licensed shelter in the county. The shelter is completely donation based, and all donations help purchase basic necessities for those they serve.

Testimonial from a Haven House client.

Testimonial from a Haven House client.  

“It’s very important to us to have events like this so we can spread awareness not of only our shelter, but about domestic violence in general. And I’m glad this was put on by medical professionals because we like to work very closely with the medical field,” Truesdale said. “We’re eternally grateful.”

The evening kicked off with hors d’oeuvres and a Premier Dance Arts performance while guests bid on silent auction items. After guests placed their bids, they were served dinner while keynote speakers Loren Gorlick, Haven House community relations coordinator, and Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, chair of surgery, highlighted the event’s importance.

The Heart of Gold Gala was Wagner’s first time organizing such an event, and Schwaitzberg was blown away by the gala’s success.

Patrons enjoying the Heart of Gold Gala.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of Kelly Wagner, who, in the midst of her training had a vision, became inspired and executed on that vision,” Schwaitzberg said.

Wagner described the inaugural event as a “huge success” and thanked event sponsors Erie County Medical Center Corporation, Department of Orthopaedics, Feldman and Kieffer Law Firm and Kaleida Health Foundation for their help with the gala, as well as everyone who donated silent auction items, contributed their time and sponsored event features.

She said AWS has not decided who next year’s recipient will be, but they are looking toward “a few up-and-coming local nonprofits.”

“Lastly, we’d like to thank the Department of Surgery for supporting the AWS as we planned and executed this amazing event!” Wagner said. “We have certainly learned invaluable lessons for next year’s event, all in all we are very pleased with how this inaugural event turned out.”