By  on May 8, 2014

“Wow! There are a lot of balloons. It looks great,” said an impressed Liz Rodbell, president of Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor, as she scanned the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom, where 1,400 fashion executives, retailers and designers came to support Win and raised a record $3.4 million.

About $400,000 of that was through the sale of orange, silver and burgundy balloons during the event, marking $5,000, $1,000 and $100 contributions and bringing a festive touch to the proceedings while encouraging the giving.

It was also a big night for Rodbell and Deborah Lloyd, the chief creative officer of Kate Spade, who were the evening’s industry honorees. They spoke of the plight of the thousands of homeless in the city, how they felt privileged to visit the shelters and meet the clients of Win, which helps homeless women and their children with housing and various programs to get them back on track. Rodbell took her two daughters to a shelter. “We met many young children all filled with promise and smiles.” Lloyd’s message was that “women and children are the heart of the city. Their success is our success.”

Also honored was Jamila Peets, a single mother once incarcerated, who spoke poignantly of how Win helped her regain her pride, got her on a career path and enabled her to take care of her children. A video showed her family at a Win shelter, highlighting how the organization helps. “Today things seem better for me,” said Peets. “I am surviving.”

Kayce Freed Jennings, a Win board member, introduced Arianna, Lamar and Shenzy, the Win kids who were the finalists for the Peter Jennings Prize for writing. Shenzy won the award. Freed Jennings’ husband, the late Peter Jennings, was an advocate for giving children a voice and anchored town hall meetings titled “Answering Children’s Questions” that covered such topics as AIDS, prejudice, drugs and 9/11.

Win president and chief executive officer Bonnie Stone noted there were protestors in front of the Waldorf, objecting to the addition of a Win shelter in Brooklyn. “Whenever we site a shelter, we find neighbors who are not happy.” But Stone added that Win is working closely with the city to address concerns. “We are good neighbors,” she said.

Among those at the Win event were Richard Baker, Don Watros, Benedetta Casamento, Rose Marie Bravo, Josie Natori, Stephen and Karin Sadove, Ron Frasch, Ivanka Trump, Matt Rubel, Mortimer Singer, Jaqui Lividini, Mark Weber, Simon Collins, Steven Kolb, Jill Granoff, Graziano de Boni, Mika Brzezinski, Monica Rich Kosann, Mark Badgely, James Mischka, R.J. Graziano, Michael Crotty, Jonathan Greller and Joseph Cicio.

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