NEW YORK — A crowd of notables from the fashion, retail and beauty industries turned out Monday night for a Manhattan benefit that raised more than $100,000 for Citymeals-on-Wheels, according to event organizer Ruth Finley.
The privately funded organization provides hot meals to homebound elderly New Yorkers on weekends and holidays, at times when similar government-funded services do not operate.
Event honorees Joan Kaner of Neiman Marcus and Nikki Taylor of Essence magazine, said they were struck by how, in addition to providing meals, the deliveries also serve as important human contact for the people they serve.
Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director of the Dallas-based retail chain, said she realized this while riding along on a delivery to an elderly woman who lived on the third floor of a walk-up apartment building. She said she asked the woman how often she saw her friends and family. The woman responded that she had few of either, adding, “‘who lives to 96 these days?’” Kaner recalled.
Taylor, beauty director and cover editor of Essence, said the service, which last year delivered meals to 17,000 people, is “ever more important at these times, when we are becoming such a high tech and low-touch society.”
John Pomerantz, chairman of The Leslie Fay Co. and a member of the organization’s board, pointed out that “every penny” raised Monday night went to buy meals. Marcia Stein, executive director of the group, explained that its operating budget came from corporate supporters, board members and the city government.
Finley, who is publisher of the Fashion Calendar, said, “Considering the economic situation, I feel we’ve been very successful.” She added that the money raised at the event would buy about 20,000 meals.
Lavelle Olexa, Lord & Taylor’s senior vice president of fashion merchandising and public events, said at times of economic weakness, it’s important to remember “there are definitely those who are less fortunate than ourselves.”