Laughs flow as PHCAF president roasted at benefit dinner

Dr. Lou Beccaria receives a gift from Phoenixville Healthcare Access Foundation's Tracey Shantz during the Foundation's annual Roast & Toast fundraising event at Robert Ryan Catering & Design at the Columbia Station Saturday evening, March 1. The gift was a seat at the Colonial Theatre. Photo by Barry Taglieber

Humor was on the menu at the second annual Health Care Access “Roast and Toast” fundraiser, held March 1 at Columbia Station on Bridge Street in Phoenixville.

Louis Beccaria, president and chief executive officer of the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation, occupied the seat of honor at the event, emceed by Eric Forsythe, executive director of Open Hearth Inc. The “roasters” were Susan Mostek, Fred Hubler, David Beccaria, Don Coppedge, Dan Baer and Mike Genna. The Rev. Dr. Koshy Mathews, rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, delivered the invocation.

A press release for the roast explained that HCA “connects uninsured and underinsured residents of the Greater Phoenixville area with specialized health care services” and called Beccaria “instrumental” in creating the organization and filling “a gap in service for some of the community’s neediest residents.” According to the press release, all proceeds from the roast benefited the HCA’s programs.

Forsythe set the tone for the evening by presenting Beccaria with an agreement to release from liability.

“He has to sign it,” Forsythe said, adding that the frame was a rental that needed to be returned.

Forsythe later called Beccaria up to the stage, where he sat on a large upholstered chair.

“We’ve brought Lou up so he can be close,” Forsythe said.

Baer led the way in delivering remarks, followed by David Beccaria, who proceeded to reel off a series of one-liners about his father’s age. For instance, said the younger Beccaria, “the candles now cost more than the cake.”

Coppedge prefaced one of his anecdotes by saying that Beccaria’s popularity extended far beyond Phoenxville. According to Coppedge, while standing next to the pope on a balcony in Rome, Beccaria was recognized by a member of the crowd, but the pontiff was not.

Genna related what he said were his experiences while traveling with Beccaria to watch baseball games around the country.

According to him, Beccaria did not know about using a Global Positioning System and instead planned to rely on old, coffee-stained maps from the 1970s.

Additionally, Genna said, Barry Manilow recordings were the only music Beccaria brought on a trip to Notre Dame.

“He was singing all the way,” added Genna.

While roasts are ordinarily intended as a great honor, said Hubler, “a bunch of people just wanted to insult [Beccaria] in public.”

Hubler claimed that one of the reasons Beccaria was not on Facebook was because the only way to reach his old friends was by Ouija board.

Mostek claimed that Beccaria had been around for so long that he knew what nonprofits were like in biblical times.

But, as did the other roasters, Mostek concluded with words of praise, calling Beccaria “a tremendous mentor.”

Leo Scoda, former Phoenixville mayor, presented Beccaria with a proclamation from State Sen. Andy Dinniman, and county commissioners Ryan Costello and Kathi Cozzone also passed along a citation.