WASHINGTON — Support Our Aging Religious — SOAR! — honored Dr. Carolyn Woo and United Bank at its 33rd annual Awards Dinner in Washington on Nov. 1.

The gala, held at the Embassy of Italy, is a major fundraiser for SOAR!, which provides grants to religious congregations to meet the immediate needs of their retired and infirm members.

At the dinner, the Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic were presented with the Rita Hofbauer Grant from SOAR!, which will be used to purchase medical therapy equipment.

Dr. Carolyn Woo is the former president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. She currently serves as a Distinguished President’s Fellow for Global Development at Purdue University.

When she received her award, Dr. Woo thanked religious women and men, inviting them to look at her as the “fruit of (their) labor” for the church.

Growing up in Hong Kong, Dr. Woo was taught by the Maryknoll Sisters. In her remarks, she thanked them for the “incredible education” they gave their students. “They helped us develop a voice,” she said. “They helped us learn to speak for ourselves.” Dr. Woo said that they also showed their students how to live the Gospel with “sacrifice and courage,” and embrace joy even in difficult situations.

United Bank, the largest community bank headquartered in greater Washington, was honored for its commitment to giving back to the community. Its focus includes areas of children, education, healthcare, affordable housing, economic vitality and financial literacy. In his remarks, United Bank president Michael Fitzgerald thanked the hundreds of United Bank employees for their hours in service throughout the neighborhoods in which they live and work.

Speaking of United Bank employees, Mr. Fitzgerald said, “What they do is great. But what I am really most proud of is not what they do, but how they do it,” he said. “They do it with enthusiasm, passion, and…compassion.”

Mr. Fitzgerald also thanked the men and women religious who made a difference in his life. “What I know now, as probably you know now, is how important the religious have been in our lives, every day,” he said. “I really wish I knew then what I know now about their contribution and sacrifice to educate me and probably everyone in this room.”