On November 19th, 2020, members of the community joined together virtually to show their support refugees at our 5th annual fundraising dinner, Breaking Bread. Traditionally, Breaking Bread has emphasized the family table, the place where we come together. This theme posed a clear challenge this year, but watching friends and family meet over Zoom reminded us that the table does not only exist in one place. The table stretches across the entire city and we see it everyday, through small acts of kindness and the supportive ways we show up for each other. 

Similar to previous years, guests enjoyed a Thanksgiving inspired dinner catered by three Spice Kitchen Incubator entrepreneurs: The Salseria, Ashikat Kitchen and Honey Teahive. Guests enjoyed the virtual event and the opportunity to see familar faces while eating their to-go meals, which included an interactive placemat for kids.

Breaking Bread graphic with small icons of food and the text "Breaking Bread at home"
Community members gathered virtually for the IRC in Salt Lake City's 5th annual Breaking Bread event.
Photo: David Herzog

Natalie El-Deiry, executive director of the IRC in Salt Lake City opened the evening by acknowledging gratitude for all those who joined from the comfort of their homes and reflected on the year: "Well, 2020 is a year none of us will ever forget. For all of us, this has been a time when we have had to summon our deepest strengths to adjust to life in a pandemic. But despite the uncertainty and difficulty we have all faced, our community has come together to support each other and that's what Breaking Bread is about...In 2020, like all of us, clients confronted the enormous task of keeping themselves and their families safe and well, while carrying on. At the IRC, we draw our strength from those we serve; people who – despite the odds – humble and inspire us with their hope for a better future."

Virtual Breaking Bread with Amira on zoom with her hands folded.
Amira spoke about arriving in Utah, her dreams, including her goal to go to school and the support she's found at her job.
Photo: IRC Salt Lake City

During the program, Natalie recognized community members that exceed what it means to be a friend to the IRC and those we serve. Each year, we recognize these individuals and partners with the Rescue Partner Award, aknowledging their extensive support of our work. We extend our deepest appreciation to Caitlin Silianoff, Erin McLaughlin-Tutton, Estelle Robbins, Vishal Jammulapati, who have remained compassionate, enthusiastic volunteers in the most trying of times; the Utah Office for Health Disparities, who have addressed the spread of the COVID-19 virus in communities of color, including refugee and immigrant communities; and to our friends at Underbelly Creative, a local design agency who has commited 2% of their revune to make an impact to those who need it and to be a good steward to the planet. 

Saadiyah holds a platter of her baked goods in her livingroom
Saadiyah spoke about her grandmother and her business, Ashikat Kitchen, for Breaking Bread.
Photo: Brendan O'Leary

During the program, Amira, a former refugee from the Central Republic of Africa, spoke about her arrival to the United States and her first job in Utah. Staff also shared their favorite moments from the year that reminded them of the resilience and strength of those we serve. To finish the evening, a short film created by Lantern Light Media introduced us to one of the night's caterers, Saadiyah Hassan, who spoke of her grandmother's influence on her while making her famous Turkish donuts.

Breaking Bread would not be possible without generous contributions from our financial sponsors who are committed to standing with refugees in Utah. We would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to each and every one:

Our event was presented by:


Wasatch Global Investors

Our Humanitarian Sponsors:

Susan Poulin of Summit Sotheby’s International Realty

First Utah Bank


University of Utah Health Plans

Underbelly Creative

Thanks to the Virtual Table Hosts:

Celtic Bank

Intermountain Healthcare

Adrienne Cachelin

Chris Bowler

Gitte Larsen

and Kristyn Efstratis

And a special thank you to our friends: Brendan O'Leary of Lantern Light Media for donating his talents to create Saadiyah's video and Niftic Agency for their generosity in designing the Breaking Bread logo.