The glow that surrounded the New York City Mission Society’s annual Champions for Children Gala wasn’t just from the soft lighting. There was a warmth in the Mandarin Oriental that emanated from those who put their hearts and souls into helping the city’s most underserved. Co-Chairs Jean Shafiroff – who has made the charity a personal mission – and Katrina Peebles – wife of honoree Don Peebles, who remains active in The Peebles Corporation he founded – had filled the room with friends and supporters. Legendary actress and singer Diahann Carroll was also honored and Dina Merrill Hartley – whose family has supported Mission for four generations – and Lloyd W. Brown II, both lifetime board members, also were recognized.
Cicely Tyson, Gayle King, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and designer B Michael added star power to the gala. WABC News Anchor Bill Ritter, a longtime supporter of the Mission Society, emceed. Legendary Sister Sledge singer, Kathy Sledge, rocked the room. Alex Donner and his Orchestra added their signature touch of class.
Looking around the room and echoing the credo of Jean Shafiroff’s book, Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life by What You Give, Diahann Carroll said she was reminded of the time her father asked her mother to stop housing her relatives in their tiny guest room. “She told him you don’t have anything if you can’t share it with those who didn’t have but wanted to have,” Carroll remembered. “It changed him for the rest of his life. Now that I’m thinking back over it, it was the greatest thing in my life, and I’ve been married four times!”
“It takes a team to make a difference in the life of even one child,” said Katrina Peebles. “Without all of you there we wouldn’t be making that difference.”
Shafiroff, known for her ability to raise record breaking amounts as well as the profiles of her charities, remembered the first time she saw New York City Mission in action. “I had no choice but to get involved because of their extraordinary work,” she explained. “So, I have chaired this gala for four years and am thrilled that Katrina Peebles is chairing with me.”
They brought Mission supporter Diahann Carroll in from LA, who also felt the special tone to the evening. “I have never seen in LA an evening like you are having here tonight,” she told the room. “We have Malibu; we have Beverly Hills and those people who live over there. I think that this has been going on for so long nobody really thinks about it. It’s really very strange to go to an event and see it as integrated as this, with people from every part of life and every kind of experience together. I think I miss that more than anything else being in Los Angeles.”
In addition to Gala Co-Chairs Jean Shafiroff and Katrina Peebles, the Gala Committee included Tommie Pegues (Gala Vice Chair), Peggy and John Bader, and Leah and Stanley Rumbough. Benefit Committee Members were: Alston and Bird, LLP, American Securities Foundation, Flo Anthony, Elaine Bernanke Appelle, Kim Bingham, Sophia Bishop, Jerry Bonura, Geoffrey Bradfield, Henry Buhl, Victor de Souza, Lee Fryd, Penny Grant, Jo’Vion (J.D.) Greer, Shannon Hales, Michelle Herbert, Missy Kilroy and Jay Moorhead, Barbara and Francis Kairson, Jr., Margo Langenberg, Brian Monroe, Riki Kane Larimer, Dustin Lujan, Lauren and James Peterson, Kim Renk and Greg Dyer, Natalie S. Ross, Helen Shelton, and Brooke and Derek Steinhiser.
For more information about New York City Mission Society, visit www.nycmissionsociety.org.