Citymeals on Wheels this week hosted its 32nd Annual Power Lunch for Women fund-raiser, raising nearly $1.2 million.
Fashion supporters of the benefit include Chanel, Dr. Patricia Wexler, Marcy Syms, Patti Cohen, Michael Kors, John Pomerantz, Georgina Chapman, Marigay McKee, Tamara Mellon, Jan Singer and Iman.
This year’s honorees include Kathie Lee Gifford, co-host of the fourth hour of “The Today Show;” Jessica Lappin, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, and Derek Blasberg, YouTube’s Director of Fashion and Beauty. Gifford brought attendees to tears with her speech about the need to give back. An anonymous donor agreed to donate up to $1 million through the matching of donations starting at $10,000. Gifford kicked off the fundraising round with a $50,000 donation.
Mellon provided three styles from her eponymous line — Frontline, Icon and Siren — for auction. Skin care line Valmont provided a gift basket for auction and $2,500 toward a facial. Another option provided for auction was a Power Lunch with honoree Blasberg for breakfast, lunch or tea at Tiffany & Co.’s The Blue Box Café.
Actress Jane Krakowski was the emcee for the event, which included a reading of letters from meals recipients by Iman, and actresses Kathleen Turner and Dana Ivey. Beth Shapiro, executive director of Citymeals, noted that a “home-delivered meal and a friendly check-in” is often what many recipients need to remain in their own homes. She also noted that 66 percent of Citymeals recipients are women, and the majority live alone. Last year, nearly 25,000 volunteers gave over 80,000 hours of service to Citymeals. The organization provides over 2 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for more than 18,000 of New York City’s homebound elderly.
Among the attendees, Pomerantz, former chief executive officer of Leslie Fay Cos., said he keeps busy doing consulting work. Turner, who is also on the Citymeals board, said of the recipients, “We have so many in need. They have so little financial support, many have no families, and many live in a walk-up that they can no longer afford. Often times, they can no longer handle the stairs.” Turner, who said she always helps with deliveries on Thanksgiving and Christmas, noted an equally important component of the service, which is the companionship that the person making the delivery provides to the recipient.
Actress Bernadette Peters said it was “important not to forget people in need, who are stuck in their apartment and have no food.” She said she will be back on the CBS drama “The Good Fight.” In the meantime, she is planning on joining her friend Patti Cohen on a trip at the end of the year to Africa for two weeks. Cohen is the former chief marketing and public relations executive for Donna Karan International. Iman, who has been involved in Citymeals for the past eight years, told WWD, “Citymeals is so special to New York City. Coming from Africa, we don’t have older people who don’t have anyone taking care of them. I can’t think of anything more difficult to go through, spending one’s end days in [the city] and not have food. It’s heartbreaking.”
Dr. Wexler said Citymeals has been her “favorite charity for 31 years.” She said that the charity, in addition to food, now provides a dental option for its meal recipients. Wexler also took a moment to speak about the ongoing trend in beauty “away from the scalpel,” such as micro-needling to stimulate natural collagen production. “The Millennials are driving this. They look better and look like themselves. They are also staying healthier inside and out, eating antioxidants and using sun protection.”
Blasberg said he got involved with the charity around the time of Hurricane Sandy at the suggestion of his friend, Dr. Samantha Boardman, a Citymeals board member. He also took a moment to talk about creating fashion content on the YouTube channel, noting that many consumers are spending time watching video content — sometimes as long as an hour — as they do research about fashion and designers. “We do two- to three-minute teasers and then find that they are willing to watch ten minute videos. If Kendall Jenner posts on Instagram that she is wearing Virgil Abloh, viewers come to YouTube to find out more about Abloh.”