Resiliency has been a central theme for the staff and clients of Children’s Aid during the past year. Although many people refer to the pandemic as something in the past tense, our staff and communities continue to feel its effects on a daily basis. At our 11th Annual Benefit on Oct. 21, we celebrated that resilience and raised $1.8 million to continue our vital work.
The event’s theme emphasized Children’s Aid’s enduring presence in the lives of our clients, even in the midst of “storms” like the coronavirus pandemic. Yellow umbrellas, which were given out as party favors for attendees, symbolized the cover, the warmth, and the access to resources that we strive to provide for our families every day.
Children’s Aid President and CEO Phoebe C. Boyer delivered a stirring message reflecting on those themes. “A lot of people talk about the safety net, the wide range of services that catch a family when they fall through the cracks in the system,” she said. “At Children’s Aid we think of ourselves as more of an umbrella, something by your side to carry you through the storm. And for the past 18 months, it’s been raining hard!
“Children’s Aid has weathered many storms. The things we’ve learned have made us stronger. It’s our job to ensure no child in New York City is left to brave the elements on their own.”
We also honored Reginald Van Lee, a partner and Chief Transformation Office at the Carlyle Group and a former appointee to President Barack Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, for his longstanding support of the arts.
Van Lee has been a pioneering trailblazer, first as one of just 32 Black students in his undergraduate class at MIT and later during his long career as an investment executive. He has served on several nonprofit boards in the arts and humanities.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by Children’s Aid at this critical moment of renewal in New York City, the greatest city in the world,” Van Lee said. “We have shown resilience and we will continue to show resilience. You see it in the soul that shines in moments of need. That soul is alive and well here tonight with all of you and certainly with the depth and breadth of support Children’s Aid provides to thousands of families across New York City every year.”
During the evening, Children’s Aid youth took center stage. The event kicked off with a high-energy vocal performance from NYU senior Emmanuel De La Rosa. Keisha Lewis Moreno and Richard Lloyd, who are both sophomores at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx, served as co-hosts throughout the course of the events. Keisha shared an emotional story about coming out of her shell after her family moved to New York City from the Dominican Republic, and Richard reflected on how this past year pushed him to become an activist.
“I found strength and a purpose in the pandemic,” he said, “and I found my voice.”
We are incredibly grateful to our benefit committee and to our committee chairs Jill Johnson and Tom Reynolds and Beth and Ira Leventhal for their hard work and leadership. We also recognize our in-kind donors Amplifi and SmartFlyer for their contributions to the event. Sponsors of the benefit included Stephanie and Chase Coleman at the Ambassador Level and Sheila Baird, Leslie and Ashish Bhutani, The James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation, Lise Strickler and Mark Gallogly, Beth and Ira Leventhal, Melkus Family Foundation, Lauren Razook Roth and John Roth, and Amy and Charlie Scharf at the Hero Level. We thank all of our sponsors and supporters for their generous contributions before, during, and after the event. Photographs from the 2021 Children’s Aid Benefit are available here.