I was having a particularly challenging personal day, during a particularly challenging personal week, during a particularly challenging personal month, when I received just the ray of sunshine I needed to begin parting the clouds of my psyche.
Taking a couple hours to escape reality one Wednesday afternoon, I decided to stroll through Chelsea Market. I love everything about the space from its origins as a Nabisco factory to the live webcam catching glimpses of visitors as they pass the waterfall to the myriad of vendors who now call the space home. I can’t fathom how anyone can wander through the market without buying a little something along the way.
Anyway, on that afternoon as I perused the bacon fat slicked brussels sprouts in Dickson’s Farmstand Meats’ window, I received a telephone call. Harlem RBI was hosting their 5th annual “A League of Our Own” event on the evening of Thursday, March 7, at Radio City Music Hall, and they were wondering if Alecia Bakery NYC would be interested in participating.
Two years after we opened our doors to East Harlem boys in 1991, a group of girls marched into Harlem RBI offices and demanded a league of their own. Since then, girls have enjoyed a place to play, learn and grow at Harlem RBI. Today, Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School annually serve more than 600 girls and young women and will continue to support them as they become our leaders and change makers in the community and beyond.
A League of Our Own is our fifth annual wine and chocolate tasting event set at the historic Radio City Music Hall. The elegant affair includes exquisite wines, chocolates and heavy hors d’oeuvres from premiere New York restaurants and dessert shops. A silent auction will support our programs in East Harlem. Join us as we celebrate the strength and perseverance of the girls and women at Harlem RBI and DREAM.
Interested? Very little could have pulled me away from ogling the gorgeous green orbs, but this proposition made my heart soar! After a bit more discussion, it was agreed that an assortment of our caramels would be most fitting for the event’s expected 300 guests. And with that simple decision, the smile returned to my face, all of the “garbage” that had been weighing on me began to fall away from my shoulders and I felt reenergized.
Its quite simple. Nothing makes me feel as good as when I’m helping others. And it was an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to help such an amazing organization.
I rarely have time to go out socially these days and even rarer still are the occasions that allow me to get “all dolled up,” as a dear friend commented recently. But, on the wet, blustery winter evening of the event, I walked into the glittering Grand Foyer of Radio City Music Hall feeling like a modern day Cinderella. Dessert stations presented attendees with such an array of chocolate desserts that even the most fanatical chocolate lover would have been dizzied by the amount of cacao on display. Wine glasses sparkled and clinked. And wooden trays of delectable savory morsels floated by on the arms of servers dressed in Harlem RBI tees.
It was an evening I will always remember, but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. You see, many years ago I was a public school teacher in two extremely challenging school districts (Flint, MI and Jersey City, NJ). I gravitated towards the students who were at most risk, who had the least hope, who needed the most encouragement. I found joy in being their personal cheerleader. So while all of the luxe accoutrements of the evening’s event were spectacular, it was the three women who spoke and the stories they told that captured my heart and made me a Harlem RBI and DREAM Charter School supporter for life.
A beautiful young lady spoke of her “a-ha” moment when she realized what it was like to be a part of a team at Harlem RBI. One of the four highest ranking female executives at Delta Airlines shared her most terrifying professional moment — when she had to explain why she was qualified to continue to do the job she had successfully earned and loved, but due to a torrent of bad luck had failed miserably. And the effervescent Principal of DREAM Charter School recounted one of her most challenging cases — an 8 year old boy who when asked by his mother in the presence of the Principal, “Why did you say you aren’t going to college?” answered plainly, “You didn’t.”
All of the stories shared that evening served to remind me that every obstacle can be overcome and every goal can be reached with perseverance and the help and support from others. Oh, one more thing, and my favorite quote from the evening, “There’s a special place in hell for women in business who don’t help one another.”