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HeartShare Human Services of New York raised almost $700,000 at its 2014 Spring Gala and Auction on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at the New York Marriott Marquis. With 1,150 in attendance, the Gala is HeartShare’s premiere event, and, this year, additionally celebrates HeartShare’s Centennial Anniversary. The Spring Gala and Auction directly benefits HeartShare’s programs that serve almost 29,000 New Yorkers in need.
Mr. Paul J. Torre, Chairman of HeartShare’s Board of Directors opened the celebration with a warm welcome, “I’m honored and humbled to welcome each of you to tonight’s Spring Gala, Auction and the celebration of HeartShare’s Centennial Anniversary. We still dream of new ways and opportunities to help at-risk children, adults and families with dignity and with respect.” In his address, HeartShare President and CEO Mr. Bill Guarinello reflected on HeartShare’s long history and growth, “HeartShare was founded in 1914 as a Brooklyn-based organization to care for New York’s neediest children. Today, we are a $150 million and third largest children’s services agency in New York. I am proud of our legacy and our journey continues into a second century of service.” Guests cheered in review of recent HeartShare accomplishments, including the HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services affiliation announcement and a brief video of HeartShare at the New York Stock Exchange in December 2013.
HeartShare honored Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. In acceptance of his award, Mr. Scissura praised HeartShare’s diverse contributions to the New York community, “I can’t even tell you all the things they do and while the scope of the services they provide is broad, their values are very singular. HeartShare is truly the jewel in the Kings County crown.” At the end of the evening, Mr. Scissura noted, “As a lifelong Brooklynite, it is inspiring to see that HeartShare is doing such important work in my home borough. It’s also incredibly impressive that HeartShare has endured 100 years and has become a thriving New York business in the process.” Under Mr. Scissura’s leadership, the Chamber has more than doubled its membership from approximately 700 members to 1,600 members. Mr. Scissura, who has a long history of contributing to his local community, previously served as General Counsel to former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
HeartShare’s Spring Gala also honored all 80 of its former Gala honorees with its Centennial Anniversary Award, which recognizes outstanding service on behalf of the community and HeartShare. “We set out to track down as many former honorees as possible. We would like to present a token of our appreciation, which pales in comparison to their contributions. They will know we love their kindness for HeartShare and those who rely on it,” stated Mr. Guarinello.
More than half of past honorees, from 1979 to the present, were guests at the soirée. FOX Meterologist and 2013 Gala honoree Mike Woods recognized HeartShare as a paragon of charitable and compassionate service to others, “HeartShare encompasses what I think everyone should try to do and that is to give back to the community…it’s great to come back with a great group of folks who…continue to give and to set an example.” Former Gala honorees in attendance also included National Grid President Kenneth D. Daly (2012), CEO and President of American Stock Transfer Company LLC Mark C. Healy (2011), Vice President of the Brooklyn Cyclones Steve Cohen (2008), Get Smart actress “Agent 99” Barbara Feldon (2007), President and CEO of Victoria’s Secret, Sharen Jester Turney (2005), Emmy Award winning actress Linda Dano (1992) and actor Danny Aiello (1990). Honorees of the Genie Foundation, chaired by President Lorraine Tozzo and Vice President Nino Russo, who is also the Proprietor of Garguilo’s Restaurant, were recognized as well. The awards were presented by Mr. Guarinello and CUNY-TV correspondent and former First Lady of The City of New York Donna Hanover.
Other notable guests included actresses Amy Carlson and Abigail Hawk from CBS police drama Blue Bloods, The Sopranos actor Dan Grimaldi, MLB Network Host and Reporter Sam Ryan, as well as long-time Board Member and Q104.3 radio show host Jim Kerr, who served as the Master of Ceremonies, and his Q104.3 co-host Shelli Sonstein. Community leaders Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino and State Senator Marty Golden joined the celebration.
Jim Kerr also served as an auctioneer in a live bid for a 22-seat luxury suite behind home plate at Yankee Stadium, courtesy of Bank of America. Linda Dano live auctioned a personal reading from psychic John Edward, a 2004 HeartShare Gala honoree. The silent auction featured electric guitars signed by Paul McCartney, Neil Young and Bon Jovi, a hotel stay, airfare and two tickets to see Justin Timberlake in New Orleans, tickets to a 2014 New York Jets home game, sheet music autographed by The Eagles and Rihanna and a jersey autographed by New York Yankee Derek Jeter. Bidders also enjoyed gift certificates for visits to golf courses, spas, salons and restaurants, including Il Mulino New York. The celebratory evening concluded with a balloon drop.