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Citymeals on Wheels Honored Its Co-Founder & Board Chair
Gael Greene at 30th Annual Power Lunch for Women
Carla Hall, Co-Host of ABC’s The Chew, Emceed Benefit That Raises Critical Funds to Provide Meals and Companionship for New York’s Homebound Elderly
(November 18, 2016 – NEW YORK, NY) – The Plaza Hotel was the seat of power in New York City on Friday, November 18th, as 400 women – leaders of industry, media, government and the arts – came together to support the Citymeals on Wheels 30th Annual “Power Lunch for Women.” This by-invitation-only benefit, emceed by Carla Hall, Co-Host of ABC’s The Chew, chef and cookbook author, raised $1 million to provide meals for New York’s homebound elderly.
As it gets ready to celebrate the 35th anniversary of its founding, Citymeals honored Co-Founder and Board Chair Gael Greene for her tireless dedication to the organization that has delivered 54 million meals since Christmas 1981.
Days before Thanksgiving in 1981, restaurant critic Greene read a New York Times article reporting that homebound elderly New Yorkers were not receiving meal deliveries on weekends and holidays. Greene made a series of phone calls to friends in the food world, including renowned chef James Beard. Together, they raised $35,000. Gael contacted then-Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, Janet Sainer, who turned the funds into Christmas meals for 6,000 older New Yorkers.
This year’s powerful women were Sunny Anderson, Donatella Arpaia, Ariane Ruskin Batterberry, Kathleen Battle, Jennifer Baum, Aliyyah Baylor, Alison Lohrfink Blood, Samantha Boardman, Bobbi Brown, Georgina Chapman, Leah Cohen, Keren Craig, Ariane Daguin, Dasha Epstein, Florence Fabricant, Elizabeth Falkner, Georgette Farkas, Penny Glazier, Jamee Gregory, Donna Hanover, Jill Kaplan, Suri Kasirer, Harriette Rose Katz, Celerie Kemble, Dorothy Kretchmer, Barbara Lazaroff, Alexandra Lebenthal, Zarela Martínez, Commissioner Julie Menin, Wendi Murdoch, Margo MacNabb Nederlander, Enid Nemy, Daphne Oz, Karen Page, Monica Parikh, Ruth Reichl, Deborah Roberts, Betty Rollin, Rosanna Scotto, Danielle Smith, Christina Steinbrenner, Dee Soder, Silda Wall Spitzer, Cicely Tyson, Donna Zaccaro Ullman, Janice Savin Williams, Patricia Wexler, M.D., and Judith Zabar among others.
A couple of dozen men were allowed the privilege of lunching with these powerful and famous women for an admission price of $10,000. This year’s “$10K Men” included Daniel Boulud, Michael Lynne, Ralph Scamardella, John Shapiro, and Alexander Smalls.
Others who have lent their support to the event, but were unable to attend include Jeff Bliss, Judy Blume, Blythe Danner, Mario Grauso, Stephanie March, Richard Melman, Yoko Ono Lennon, John Pomerantz, and Meryl Streep.
Beth Shapiro, Executive Director of Citymeals on Wheels, hailed Greene’s indefatigable commitment to our city’s homebound elderly, noting, “Gael Greene’s disdain for the status quo and pioneering efforts on behalf of New York City’s frail aged have benefitted thousands of our most vulnerable over the span of thirty five years. Concerned for our hidden neighbors who did not have enough, she knew that we, as a city and as a community, could do more, and she has worked tirelessly ever since to ensure that none of our recipients go a day without food.
“Gael, you are a testament that power and compassion go hand in hand. On behalf of the more than 18,000 elderly we serve each year, the 54 million meals we have delivered since our inception, and this incredible organization I am so proud to serve, thank you for your passion and your dedication.”
Greene said, “Throughout everything I’ve experienced in my own life, there were two constants I could always count on: food and friends. And in a city like New York, filled with such excess and indulgence, I was horrified to find that so many of my ailing neighbors did not have these basic needs met. So, with the help of some very good friends, I took action.
“No one ever intends to grow old – alone and impoverished, unable to manage even a single flight of stairs. The people you help us feed, their faces are familiar: a beloved school teacher, the acrobatic dancer at the end of the line onstage, the short order cook at the diner, an expression so like our grandmothers’. The simple meal we send tells them someone they may never meet knows they are there; strangers want to help them. It seems that New York is not the tough, indifferent city we might pretend it is after all, but like a loving small town. These frail New Yorkers in their 80s and 90s and 100s – they created this city we love and we will continue to honor and care about them because they are our own.”
Featured at the event was a silent auction and a poignant video highlighting Citymeals’ meal recipients.
Official sponsors of Citymeals on Wheels were American Airlines and FIJI Water. Event sponsors included Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Citarella, Citi, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, Landmark Vineyards, Plymouth Gin, The Travelers Companies, Inc., Tao Group, Zabar’s and Zabars.com.
One hundred percent of the money raised from ticket sales and the silent auction at Power Lunch goes toward the preparation and delivery of nutritious meals to homebound elderly in the five boroughs of New York City. All funds needed to cover administrative and fundraising expenses are raised separately and specifically for those purposes and not from the general public.
All meal recipients are chronically disabled by conditions such as vision loss, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.More than 60 percent of Citymeals recipients are over 80 years old; 23 percent are over 90; more than 200 have lived at least a century; all recipients are chronically disabled by conditions such as vision loss, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease; and nearly all need assistance walking. It is estimated that 66 percent use a cane; 39 percent use a walker; 16 percent use a wheelchair. Citymeals recipients are also isolated: 57 percent live alone; 40 percent rarely or never leave their homes; and 8 percent have no one with whom they can talk. Many are also at risk for malnutrition.
About Citymeals on Wheels: Citymeals on Wheels (citymeals.org) provides a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to New York City’s homebound elderly. Working in partnership with community-based organizations and senior centers, Citymeals prepares and delivers over 2 million weekend, holiday and emergency meals for more than 18,000 of our frail aged neighbors each year. Last year, over 15,000 individuals volunteered nearly 72,000 hours of their time.
Since its founding in 1981, Citymeals has relied on the generosity of its Board of Directors, the City of New York, sponsors and other designated gifts to cover administrative costs. This ensures that 100% of all public donations will be used entirely for the preparation and delivery of meals.