Spring time brings Northside Center for Child Development gala

Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 5/30/2012, 6:34 p.m.

If it's spring, it must be time for the annual Northside Center for Child Development gala, the key event of the season. It never disappoints; the 2012 gala was all you would imagine it to be. The ballroom at the Plaza was filled with well-meaning and well-endowed supporters, all there to applaud the continued efforts and success stories that Northside has become noted for.

Celebrating 66 years of serving the underserved, teaching those thought to be unteachable and providing light to those in the dark and hope to many who had lost their way and their faith, Northside continues to be a pillar of strength reliable and steadfast.

I happen to love the Plaza. Still elegantly located on 59th Street and Central Park South, there is something regal about walking up the red-carpeted steps to the main entrance. It makes everyone feel so special--which makes it a perfect fit for Northside, as the organization is an expert in making everyone who walks through its doors feel special too.

Accordingly, last year, over 3,000 families in East and Central Harlem and the Bronx came through the doors of Northside seeking solace. The children and their families were all experiencing a range of difficulties, from emotional and behavioral trouble to an inability to cope within the educational system. Northside's holistic approach to helping those most in need has been met with much success, as the stories from Northside just keep coming.

To begin at the beginning, the evening started with a cocktail reception, where those such as restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, of the famed Red Rooster, and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons mingled amongst the guests, which included Lisa Downing, Janice Dye and Hazel Dukes. The tastiest of the hors d'oeuvres served include the tiniest cut of watermelon with a thin slice of cheese topped with a jalapeno pepper. Talk about fire and ice! The only thing to tame it was a glass of champagne, which was of an excellent vintage.

Upon entering the seductively lit ballroom, guests such as Tony Award winner George Faison, founder of the Faison Firehouse Theater, which is located in central Harlem and home to the American Performing Arts Collaborative and Byron Lewis, founder and chairman of UniWorld Advertising Agency, gathered once again to recognize the achievements of Northside Center.

The master of ceremonies for the evening was radio personality Elvis Duran, along with Carolina Bermudez. Remarks were given by the chairman of the Northside board, Michael Goldstein, and the ever-so-gracious Thelma Dye, Ph.D., Northside's executive director and CEO. Thanking all of those who share in the success of Northside, Dye remarked that it has been an incredible journey and "stunning accomplishment" to play such a vital part in making a difference in the lives and future of those Northside serves.

"One in five children in the United States is suffering, but those who reach Northside's doors are well on their way and don't worry that they are becoming a statistic because we care about who they'll become," stated Dye.