Nearly 1,000 guests, including leaders from the fashion, finance and entertainment sectors, raised more than $1 million at last week’s Emery Awards dinner at Cipriani Wall Street to support the Hetrick-Martin Institute.
“I’ve seen the organization grow and mature over time, stretching our reach and impact around the world. But the greatest reward has been to watch the youth of HMI grow and develop into strong and successful young professionals,” said Rob Smith, chief product officer at Haddad Brands. “Every one of the thousands of youth we serve change this world for the better with their resilience and bravery. Their determination and success is something that we all could learn from.”
Smith was honored at the event for his decade of work helping the HMI which provides services to the often abused and rejected LGBTQ youth. George Takei, of “Star Trek” fame, was also honored for his activism.
Smith was surprised by the unveiling of a plaque, funded by friends and family, for him and his husband. “The plaque is going to be placed at the entrance to HMI’s Center for Advocacy and Capacity Building. I helped to raise the funds for the expansion, while Rod and his team built the extension, pro bono,” said Smith, referring to Rod Grozier, his husband. “It was a great team effort. The trainings we do, sharing best-practices with government agencies and fellow CBOs (community based organizations), is truly groundbreaking. HMI is leading the charge with the steps needed to create systemic change….globally. We are, now, literally changing attitudes and saving lives around the world.”
Among the attendees were Chris Salgardo, David Lawenda, Chris Mosier, Shakina Nayfack and the cast of “Orange is the New Black.”
“Rob Smith has been an integral part of HMI’s remarkable growth for the last 10 years,” said Thomas Krever, chief executive officer of Hetrick-Martin Institute. “As well as growing the Emery Awards to its current scale as cochair, it was Smith’s vision and fortitude to expand HMI beyond the confines of New York into New Jersey and beyond, with the inception of our Center for Advocacy and Capacity Building. Pairing him with an icon like George Takei feels so right.”
Smith has been instrumental in raising more than $10 million to support HMI’s life-saving on-site services and programs. Last year, HMI provided more than 33,500 services to more than 2,400 at-risk youth, ages 13 to 24, and their families.