By Julie Sagoskin
Photos by Lily Kesselman
Hundreds of supporters attended the Children’s Aid eighth annual benefit at the Zeigfeld Ballroom in New York City on Thursday, October 18th, where the organization honored Kevin P. Ryan, chairman and founder of Business Insider, GILT, MonogoDB, Zola, Workframe, and Nomad Health. Children’s Aid provides everything from early childhood education to access to healthy food, health screenings, teen pregnancy prevention and a college success program. With forty locations in New York City and over a hundred programs addressing the needs of low-income families and children, Children’s Aid has helped millions of New Yorkers and continues to carry on their work with funds raised at events like their gala and through generous donors and volunteers.
“We are truly honored to have Kevin Ryan with us as we continue to ensure that all young people, no matter what zip code they hail from, have the opportunities to unlock their full potential,” said Children’s Aid President and CEO Phoebe C. Boyer. “Kevin has demonstrated many times over that he believes in the young people of New York City.”
Ryan has long been committed to causes that firmly align with the mission of Children’s Aid—the health and welfare of people living in under-resourced communities, quality educational programming, and human rights issues. All of those are fundamental to the work of Children’s Aid to make certain that there are no boundaries to the aspirations of young people.
Attendees enjoyed a festive and whimsical cocktail hour featuring oversized wooden swings which was followed by a dramatic entrance into the main ballroom designed by Rafanelli Events. Tables set with greenery and jars filled with lights evoked an outdoorsy, tropical feel while colorful staircases made out of massive swings served as a nod to the Children’s Aid tagline, “every step of the way.”
Guests were treated to a performance by some of the children who sang and danced to “I’m coming out” before high school students took the stage to tell of their own personal struggles and how Children’s Aid has given them the desire to dream and the tools to lead a better life. These inspiring young people who grew up in disadvantaged neighborhoods with high crime rates, gangs and single family households, have been given access to mentors, education and most importantly, the assurance that they are worthy and capable of becoming whatever and whoever they want to be regardless of their background.
One resilient 16-year-old from the Bronx who used to have gang affiliations is now an honor roll student with big career aspirations while another student who didn’t even dream of a future is now hoping to get an education and become a pediatric surgeon. Another young woman almost brought the audience to tears as she spoke of how she was placed in foster care where she finally started realizing what it really meant to be a part of a family and how much she really mattered. She now tries to help other children and is focusing on her very bright future with the help of Children’s Aid as well as her own strength and determination to get through even the most challenging of circumstances.
As guests enjoyed their dinner they bid on donated items ranging from vacations in Jamaica and the Maldives to Superbowl experiences, movie set walk-ons and more during the very lively live auction. By the end of the evening, Children’s Aid had raised just under $2 million to continue their work providing services to even more disadvantaged youth.
Before receiving an award for his dedication to Children’s Aid, Ryan expressed his admiration for all the courage demonstrated by the young people in attendance and acknowledged the importance of the organization’s services which allow young people to learn, grow and lead successful, independent lives.
“I am proud to support Children’s Aid and their mission of ensuring children throughout New York City have the bright futures they deserve,” said honoree Kevin Ryan. “Children’s Aid is breaking barriers in providing children with limitless potential to learn, grow, and succeed.”
Children’s Aid continues to thrive and grow in the New York area by aiming to give opportunities and education to those children most at risk through a cradle to college continuum model. To learn more and donate please visit ChildrensAidNYC.org