Greetings! The March winds have already blown in a beautiful clear night, allowing for a full range of stars to become visible to the naked eye. Remember to take a peak before turning in at night. You never know what you might see shining brightly down on you.

Also shining brightly was Susan L. Taylor, founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement at the organization’s annual gala.  Held, most appropriately, at Cipriani 42nd Street, the event was hosted by smart and beautiful Tamron Hall of “MSNBC Live.” Joining Hall was Michael Eric Dyson, the distinguished Georgetown University professor of sociology. Dyson is also the best-selling author of “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America.” 

Many of those whom we know and love filled the room to capacity to salute this year’s honorees. Receiving the National CARES North Star Award were Charles D. King, Russell Simmons and Lonnie G. Bunch III. King is executive producer of the critically acclaimed film “Fences” and founder and CEO of the firm MACRO. King was introduced by filmmaker and gala co-chair Crystal McCrary. Living legend Cicely Tyson, also in attendance and looking fabulous, couldn’t praise King enough for his dedication to supporting and presenting content that “explores the complexity and beauty of African-American, Latino and multicultural lives.”

Russell Simmons, who has long been a household name, could not have been more excited as he graciously accepted his award from the very talented Renée Elise Goldsberry, the Tony Award-winning actress from the Broadway hit show “Hamilton.”

Because of illness, Lonnie G. Bunch III, the driving force and founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture, was unable to attend the gala to accept his award in person. However, he did give words of thanks and encouragement via video address to a raptured audience, who responded with an unrestrained round of applause.

Proceeds from the gala will be used to support the organization’s host of transformational mentoring programs, which provide a holistic, large-scale, trauma-informed mentoring support, proved to be successful in helping to transform lives. Each program is designed specifically for Black families living in poverty, who are struggling to achieve their education despite extreme social and economic disruption. Programs include The Rising: Elevating Education, Expectations and Self-Esteem; University for Parents; and HBCU Rising, which mentors middle-school children in STEM and literacy and prepares college students for career success.

Since its inception in 2006, National CARES has recruited, trained and connected more than 200,000 caring mentors to local youth, serving programs in cities across the United States, from Seattle and San Diego, to Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

Special guests at the National CARES gala event included the Rev. Jesse Jackson the Rev. Al Sharpton, Danny Glover, Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa DeLuca, Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Bethann Hardison, Hill Harper, Debra Lee and Stephen Hill of BET, Omari Hardwick, Maxwell, Bevy Smith, Kehinde Wiley, Terry McMillan, Suzanne Malveaux, Attallah Shabazz, eldest daughter of Malcolm X, Marc Moriale, Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of the Apollo Theater and many more.

Entertainment for the evening included a performance by 15-year-old jazz singer Mae Ya Carter-Ryan, who performed a rousing rendition of Nina Simone’s “Everything Must Change.” and Jon Batiste, pianist and musical director for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Batiste brought the evening to a close as he rocked the rafters with a “love riot” conducted in honor of Susan L. Taylor’s birthday.

Dance/NYC, a nonprofit created to advance the New York dance community and the city’s role as a dance capital celebrated its fourth anniversary with an intimate cocktail reception for 100 people, hosted by Jody and John Arnhold, at their Central Park West apartment.

You can say that Jody Arnhold, who sits on the Advisory Committee of Dance/NYC, is all about the dance. According to her resume, she is a leading dance educator and advocate, producer of the Emmy-nominated documentary “PS Dance!” and founder of the Dance Education Laboratory at the 92nd Street Y. She serves on the Arts Advisory Committee for the New York City Department of Education, is co-chair for the creation of the DOE Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Dance and is chair of the Hunter College Dance Advisory Committee. Seen among those enjoying themselves immensely were Dyane Harvey-Salaam, Jeremy McQueen, Abdel Salaam, Patricia Dye, Merylne Jean-Louis and Shannon Clarke.

Did you know that the pandas are coming to New York? That is, if Maurice Greenberg, John Catsimatidis, Yue-sai Kan and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney have anything to say about it. Together, the four have formed a nonprofit 501c3 to raise private funds to bring two giant pandas to New York. The plan also includes the building of a freestanding panda pavilion and habitat in a city zoo or Central Park. The committee believes that not only will this endeavor benefit Chinese-American relations but also the panda’s new permanent home will be a popular tourist attraction, acting as an economic spark plug for the neighborhood that houses the panda pavilion. The executive committee for the pandas are giving themselves two years to raise the $40-$50 million needed to complete both the habitat and the rental of the pandas. Can you believe it? Every adult panda living United States is rented from China. The host committee for the evening were Jonathan and Somers Farkas, Leonard and Judy Lauder, Margo and James Nederlander, Larry and Wendy Rockefeller, Jean Shafiroff, Richard Silverman, the Hon. Peter Vallone and Elizabeth Wang. Attending the event were the Hon. David Dinkins with wife, Joyce, and former Congressman Charles Rangel.

The idea is a longtime project of Congresswoman Maloney, who stated, “The greatest city on Earth deserves to be the home to iconic creatures like giant pandas. They are said to bring good luck and good cheer; both of which our City can use more of.”

More than 500 New York City professionals from finance, fashion, entertainment and real estate, among other industries, committed to improving the lives of children being treated for cancer and blood disease, and their families were in attendance at the 2017 Adults in Toyland Casino Night gala affair hosted by the Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and the Department of Pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone Medical Center. 

The festive annual event featured casino games, a buffet, cocktails, a DJ and a silent auction of luxury items guests were invited to bid on, including a VIP set visit to the Golden Globe winning drama “The Affair,” four tickets to a New York Giants Football game with a pregame tour of the field, a $5,000 custom design experience with London Jewelers to create a one-of-a-kind piece and a vacation package to Miami to visit Art Basel Miami Beach 2017. Citi served for a fourth year as presenting sponsor of Adults in Toyland.

The NYU School of Medicine was first opened in 1841 and has since trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. In 1990, the Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders established itself as a national leader in outpatient treatment of childhood cancers and blood diseases. The center is named in memory of Stephen D. Hassenfeld, the former chairman of Hasbro, Inc., and founder of the Hasbro Children’s Foundation.

Today, the NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class, patient-centered, integrated academic medical center, is one of the nation’s premier centers for excellence in clinical care, biomedical research and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is composed of four hospitals: Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute care facility; Rusk Rehabilitation; the Hospital for Joint Diseases, which is the medical center’s dedicated inpatient orthopedic hospital; and Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, a comprehensive pediatric hospital supporting a full array of children’s health services across the medical center. NYU School of Medicine is also part of the Lagone family as is the  Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center.

Needless to say, Adults in Toyland was a big success, all for a good cause, and a fun time was had by all.

Until next week … kisses.