The charity held a gala last week to raise money for its programs that help underprivileged students
By Helaina Hovitz
Over 400 guests flocked to 583 Park Avenue on Tuesday, April 16th for the 2013 Partnership With Children's Annual Gala. The event, which honored fashion journalist Constance White and United Healthcare National Accounts CEO Elizabeth Winsor, raised $750,000 for Partnership programs. The nonprofit helps children growing up in poverty to succeed academically, emotionally and socially, sending teams of Masters-level social workers to 37 of New York City's most underserved public schools across the five boroughs. This year, they worked with 15,000 students to help improve attendance, graduation rates, school safety, and academic achievement.
"We pay attention to these kids when others might not have the chance," said Marie Stewart, director of development for the Partnership, "Our team helps take the load off of teachers and principles who often have to stop what they're doing to deal with behavioral issues, giving them more time to focus on other students."
Program initiatives are designed to help kids deal with their emotions through one-on-one counseling, small group counseling, and full-classroom intervention. Teaching social skills as well as financial literacy, peer mediation, leadership, and emotional coping skills, initiatives also include conflict resolution, gang violence prevention, bullying prevention, and crisis management.
"These kids are pretty much forgotten," explained Stewart. "If a child isn't showing up to school, we ask why. One kid who was frequently absent told us that the only alarm was on his mom's phone and it was broken. Because they lived in a shelter, they didn't have an alarm clock, so we bought them one."
Last Tuesday, special table arrangements were created for the gala by top interior designers including Matthew Patrick Smyth, Michael Tavano, Roderick N. Shade, Sherrill Canet and James Huniford. Fashion designer Maggie Norris, whose A-list clientele include Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Michelle Obama, also designed a tabletop spread, which included a bust of Napoleon. The largest design was put together by Paula + Martha Design with the help of artist Will Ryman, who donated one of the giant, $90,000 roses from 2011's instillation, "The Roses, Park Avenue," which ran from 57-67th Streets.
Constance White, former editor of Essence Magazine, said that the program is especially important because of the cuts that continue to slice away at city school budgets.
"It's vital to go into communities where kids are disadvantaged and help them socially," she said.
White, who has just been introduced to the Partnership, will be working with the program on their "Skype in the Classroom," initiative.
"Kids are going to school traumatized because of what they see everyday, or they feel like they're being treated like criminals when they get there," White said. "They have to feel safe in their communities, and the Partnership helps them do that."