held its annual benefit dinner, "Restore Brooklyn," on Thursday, June 28, at Skylight One Hanson in Brooklyn, complete with all the glitz, glamour and fundraising splendor you've come to expect from an institution as iconic in the community as is Restoration.
Soledad O'Brian, CNN anchor, was the evening's mistress of ceremonies. This year's honorees were Peter Meyer, president of New York City Market for TD Bank; John B. Rhea, chairman of the New York City Housing Authority; and Marjorie Moon, executive director of the Billie Holiday Theatre.
Skylight One Hanson, the Williamsburg Savings Bank, provided a beautiful, art-deco backdrop for what started as a cocktail reception of the who's-who in Brooklyn, to become an evening of dinner, dancing and donations, all in the name of restoration.
Launched in 1967 with bi-partisan support from Senators Robert F. Kennedy, Jacob K. Javits and a number of community activists, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is the nation's first and oldest community development corporation, recognized as the pioneering model for non-profit community development corporations across the country.
American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and wife Kathryn Chenault were the honorary co-chairs at this year’s benefit. Renowned actress, writer, and activist Ruby Dee was honorary Patron. Benefactors that served as vice chairs at the event included representatives from Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group; the JPMorgan Chase Foundation; the Offensend Family Foundation; and Joseph and Nancy Sponholz. Co-chairing the Benefit Committee were Renee Altomonte, Kira Watson LeBlanc, and Lesia Bates-Moss. Dinner co-chairs were Senior Vice President of TD Bank Ralph Bumbaca and Goldman Sachs Partner Valentino Carlotti.
The theme for this year's benefit, "Restore Brooklyn," aims to highlight the organization's ongoing, successful efforts in the areas of new business and community development during Bed-Stuy's "rebirth," while acknowledging the work that still lies ahead in addressing other challenges, such as poverty, unemployment, high drop-out rates and crime.
“This year’s theme is aptly named and serves as testament to the remarkable renaissance that has seized our borough and which Restoration is so proud to be a part of,” said Colvin W. Grannum, president of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
“From improvements to our community’s economic and physical landscape, to exciting arts and culture venues that continually strengthen Bedford Stuyvesant’s rich artistic legacy, to ambitious environmental and educational initiatives that empower residents, Restoration remains at the helm of a remarkable transformation.”
"While we have seen the positive impact that our programs have on the lives of others, the struggle continues," wrote the benefit co-chairs, LeBlanc and Moss in the program's introductory letter. "We remain committed to our mission to improve the quality of life of Central Brooklyn by fostering economic self-sufficiency and a vibrant place to live for all residents. We ask you to partner with us to make that mission a reality."
To make a donation to Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, visit its website here.