On Wednesday, April 5, 2017 the city’s glitterati turned out in force the New York City Mission Society’s annual Champions for Children Gala, raising a half million dollars to help in-need youngsters and families in the city’s most underserved communities. Co-chaired by Jean Shafiroff and Katrina Peebles, the benefit honored legendary actress and singer Diahann Carroll and entrepreneur Don Peebles, as well as recognized lifetime members of the Mission Society’s Board of Directors.
“We are proud to chair the annual benefit for this worthy organization, because the New York City Mission Society makes a real and lasting difference in the lives of so many New Yorkers,” Jean Shafiroff and Katrina Peebles said in their opening remarks.About her involvement with the charity, Shafiroff, a 2014 honoree, said, “The NYC Mission Society changes the lives of our city’s children most in need by supplementing their education with after-school programs and providing a ‘home away from home’ after school and on weekends. We serve 13,000 of our city’s children each year. I am honored to serve on the board and serve as a chair for the past four years.”
The gala, held at the Mandarin Oriental in Columbus Circle was emceed by WABC News Anchor Bill Ritter, a longtime supporter of the charity. Performing were Kathy Sledge, the famous voice of Sister Sledge; singer Alex Donner and his orchestra, and students enrolled in the Mission Society’s free after-school music education program, GRIOT.
The Mission Society recognized the ongoing contributions of lifetime members of its Board of Directors: actress and philanthropist Dina Merrill Hartley, whose family has supported the Mission Society for four generations, and Lloyd W. Brown, II.
Among the notable guests at the event were the Cicely Tyson, Gayle King, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and designer B Michael.
In addition to Gala Co-Chairs Jean Shafiroff and Katrina Peebles, this year’s Gala Committee included Tommie Pegues (Gala Vice Chair), Peggy and John Bader, and Leah and Stanley Rumbough. Benefit Committee Members included Alston & 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 & 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.
The Mission Society presented Diahann Carroll with its Champions for Children Award. Born in Harlem, Carroll, a Tony- and Golden Globe-Award winning performer, was the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, Julia, on NBC. She is also known for her critically acclaimed performances in Sunset Boulevard, Bubbling Brown Sugar, House of Flowers, No Strings. Porgy & Bess, Hurry Sundown, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,.
The evening’s other honoree was R. Donahue (Don) Peebles founder, chairman, and CEO of The Peebles Corporation, one of the country’s few national privately held real estate investment and development companies with a portfolio of projects in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, and Miami Beach. Mr. Peebles also is a top-selling author of The Peebles Principles and The Peebles Path to Real Estate Wealth. He a regular guest on CNN, CNBC, and FOX. Mr. Peebles serves as Chairman of the Board of the Congressional Black Caucus, is on the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Greater New York, and was a two-time former member of President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee.