In a Waldorf Astoria ballroom filled with teal, silver and orange balloons and the spirit of helping the homeless, Win held its annual “Way to Win” fund-raiser Monday night, which drew a crowd exceeding 800 and raised $2.2 million for the cause.
It was among the organization’s most successful and poignant benefits, with three children of Win shelters reciting poems they wrote revealing feelings of hope; one mother of four telling her story of an abusive husband who threw her out of her home and how WIN helped rebuild her life, and with Bonnie Stone, Win’s outgoing president and chief executive officer, recounting her career of public service. Stone, and Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director of Hearst Magazines, were the evening’s honorees.
“When I came to Win 15 years ago, it was a $10 million enterprise,” Stone said. “Today, it’s a $65 million enterprise” housing more than 10 percent of the city’s 11,000 homeless families — including 24,000 children — in its 11 shelters.
Clinton announced a family donation to Win of $15,000 and recalled how he dressed up as Santa Claus for a Christmas party at a Win shelter. “There is nothing more heart-wrenching when a little girl bares her soul and says she’s worried that Santa Claus will not come and see her next year.”
“This event has really grown. A few years ago, we had to move it from the Pierre,” said Stephen Sadove, the former Saks Fifth Avenue chairman and ceo, who invented the evening’s “balloon challenge” using balloons to represent on-the-spot donations of $100, $1,000 and $5,000. The balloon sales contributed roughly $400,000 to the evening’s take, and Stephen and Karin Sadove, long supporters of Win, matched the first $25,000 raised through the challenge.
While many in the crowd noted how the New York City’s homeless population appears to be growing, Stone told WWD, “You can never be sure who is really homeless and who isn’t. This is the first time in years homeless families in shelters is lower by 5 percent. The shelter system is growing, but the number of homeless families in shelters has begun to drop. No city in this nation does more for the homeless than New York.”
Others spotted in the crowd were Josie Natori, Jill Fairchild, Liz Rodbell, Caroline Brown, Jill Granoff, Karen Harvey, Abbey Doneger, Monica Rich Kosann, Rose Marie Bravo, Bob D’Loren, Haim Dabah, Mortimer Singer and Bill McComb.