On Thursday, June 9, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) welcomed maritime leaders and their guests to a high-level topical forum, a festive parade of vessels, music, dinner, and honors for the industry’s most distinguished leaders. As a crowd of 800 gathered in support of SCI’s comprehensive services to mariners, the annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan marked the Institute’s largest event of the year, raising close to $850,000.
SCI connected its 2011 “I am …” campaign with this year’s Awards Dinner, showing portraits of mariners on large screens throughout the event. The evening’s theme centered on the important contributions mariners make to modern ways of living and paid tribute to two maritime industry leaders whose work positively contributes to the workforce.
“In order for SCI to provide the best support services for mariners,” said the Rev. David M. Rider, SCI’s President and Executive Director, “we rely on leaders in the industry giving us access to the places we need to go, providing feedback, and helping us evaluate various points of view.” Rider rejoices that not only on the night of the Silver Bell Awards, but throughout the year, industry leaders work with SCI to benefit the welfare of mariners.
SCI’s 2011 Silver Bell Awardee, Admiral Thad W. Allen (ret.), Former Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, expressed praise for the camaraderie of the industry when it comes together “as a family” to provide for one another. Admiral Allen received SCI’s highest honor in recognition of his leadership in the Coast Guard addressing the evolving demands of maritime commerce and security. Merritt Lane, President & CEO of Canal Barge Company, introduced Admiral Allen, noting that “respect for the mariner“ remains one of his highest ideals. “He worked collaboratively with maritime stakeholders to develop long-term viable solutions that were safe and that balanced national security needs with seafarers’ basic rights,” said Lane.
SCI also presented an award to James J. Devine, President & CEO of Global Container Terminals USA. Recognizing benefits he brought to the industry over his decades-long career, such as creating and improving infrastructure and modernizing equipment and terminal operations, SCI presented Devine with the Distinguished Service Award.
“These awards help us say thank you,” says Rider. “All kinds of people—from tanker owners to shipping agents to terminal owners and operators to maritime attorneys—benefit from a collaborative workforce. SCI’s across-the-board approach, bringing together various constituencies, relies on—and deeply appreciates—people who want to help.”
The help from Silver Bell funds SCI’s work in five centers located across the United States and in advocacy for seafarers all over the world. The event, while strengthening connections of industry partners, also fortifies SCI’s own networks. In 2010, SCI chaplains served more than 27,000 mariners through ship visits, its Center for Maritime Education trained over 1,400 mariners, and the Center for Seafarers’ Rights handled 66 new cases involving work-related issues.