*Webster’s Dictionary describes the word “link” as “One of the rings or loops forming a chain. An association; a relationship.” The powerful word is the definitive description for one of the nation’s leading and most revered women’s organizations – namely, The Links, Incorporated – which is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1946. The international organization spawned The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated in 1988 that amplifies the outstanding work of the parent organization.
Every two years, The Metro-Manhattan Links host an exclusive annual gala that is heavily attended by the crème de la crème of affluent socialites. The biennial gala supports the chapter’s hands-on programs and initiatives to prepare students for college-readiness, reduce health disparities, advance arts education and build leadership in the Greater Harlem community.
This year’s event took place on Sunday, December 9, 2012, at the beauteous Cipriani 42nd Street, New York City and featured a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing and an auction. This opulent venue was the perfect place for this well travelled elite crowd who were buoyed by Cipriani’s breathtaking Italian Renaissance ambiance that transported them to Italy. The venue featured towering marble columns, soaring ceilings, magnificent inlaid floors and glorious chandeliers that the trendsetters marveled over during an amazingly friendly networking cocktail reception.
Participants in the brief program consisted of warm welcoming remarks from event gala committee chair Link LaShann DeArcy Hall and greetings from Link Inez Richardson, gala honorary chair and president, Metro-Manhattan Chapter, and a rousing invocation by the Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, senior pastor, Grace Baptist Church.
More than 600 dressed to the nines guests were delightfully enveloped in Cipriani’s distinctive cuisine and classic service with touches of old world charm as they dined on Shrimp (the size of miniature steaks) and String Bean Salad; Warm Cipriani Rolls (baskets of homemade breadsticks); Chilean Sea Bass wrapped in Zucchini Topped with Tomato Concasse, fresh seasonal Ratatouille and Rosemary Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes; Apple Pie with Cinnamon ice cream. Fine wines were served throughout dinner.
In a tribute to the chapter’s work and accomplishments in serving the Greater Harlem community the gala theme was titled “Realizing the Dream: Celebrating Excellence in Education and Leadership.”
Proud of the impressive track record of JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic investments in Harlem and worldwide, The Metro Chapter of Links presented its prestigious biennial corporate award to JPMorgan Chase for the firm’s commitment to making a positive difference in the communities where it operates.
“The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated Chapter is pleased to honor JPMorgan Chase with the 2012 Corporate Award for their philanthropic efforts,” said Link Inez N. Richardson, president of the chapter. “The firm’s philanthropic investments are directed toward three centers of excellence: community development, education and arts and culture. These investments are closely aligned with the mission of our parent organization The Links, Incorporated and our chapter’s programs in serving the Harlem community. We salute JPMorgan Chase for their efforts to make a lasting impact in underserved communities in the U.S. and around the world.”
JPMorgan Chase’s meaningful and sustainable change in the highest-need neighborhoods and communities across the globe set the bar high for others to follow while glorifying the Metro-Manhattan Links’ theme of Realizing the Dream: Celebrating Excellence through Education and Leadership.
“`Leading with excellence, serving with grace and the Metro-Manhattan Links’ theme, Realizing the Dream: Celebrating Excellence through Education and Leadership, are exactly what we are striving to achieve philanthropically in our firm so we can then leverage the assets we build in communities to create demand for and deliver the full capabilities of our business,” said Kim Jasmin, who accepted the award on behalf of JPMorgan Chase.
Gala proceeds will support the chapter’s hands-on programs and initiatives to prepare students for college-readiness, reduce health disparities, advance arts education and build leadership in the Greater Harlem community.
Since its inception, The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated continues the mission of its parent organization through a variety of unique initiatives, programs and grants that focus on five areas: Services to Youth, The Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Human Services.
One of the greatest achievements of the pristine organization is The Young Achievers: Go to High School, Go to College program that was created ten years ago by Link Barbara Martin to address the needs of young African American and Hispanic males in the Harlem community. The program concentrates on the importance of completing secondary and collegiate education as a road to advancement.
During the 2013 school year, the chapter plans to work with professional dancers on an eight-week curriculum that will combine hip-hop dance fitness with health and life coaching to create a new culture of health that is fun, educational and empowering.
“The Gift of Life,” a documentary produced by the Metro-Manhattan Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, allows viewers a look at the increasingly important issue of organ and tissue donation. This documentary will be distributed throughout the African-American community via the chapter’s partnership with churches and other non-profit organizations.
In her profound closing remarks, Link Richardson commented, “I’m deeply grateful for the generosity of each and everyone in this room and beyond. Your support goes towards improving the quality of life for children and families in the village of Harlem.”
Link Richardson thanked the event sponsors with special mentions to Filament Designs; Regina Fleming Photography; SBG Communications; Star Group Productions and The Color of Magic.
In addition, she also had glowing acknowledgements for the Realizing the Dream: Celebrating Excellence through Education and Leadership 2012 gala committee: Inez N. Richardson (gala honorary chair); LeShann DeArcy Hall (gala dinner chair); and Monica Azare Davenport, Kimberly Davis, Hazel N. Dukes, Caroline Taylor Ellerson, Toni Fay, Carla Harris, Brenda Neal, Chrystie B. Price and Danyale Price (gala honorary committee).
Kudos to Shanta Bryant Gyan and her assistant Monica Azare of SBG Communications for a job well done in handling the press and coordinating with Link members resulting in the presentation of a marvelous and memorable evening. Guests danced the night away to the soul-stirring and high energy music performed by Breaking Point.
Gala attendees included Congressman Charles B. Rangel; Rev. Al Sharpton, activist and MSNBC contributor; Darryl C. Towns, CEO, NYS Homes and Community Renewal; Rosalyn Brock, NAACP Chairman of the Board; Earl Graves, Sr., founder and publisher of Black Enterprise magazine; George Faison, Tony Award winning choreographer and former Alvin Ailey dancer; Kathleen Battle, opera singer; Brenda Blackmon, anchor of WWOR-TV; Barbara Smith, restaurateur and lifestyle expert; b michael, fashion designer; H. Carl McCall, former NY State Comptroller; William “Bill” Thompson, former NYC Comptroller, Michelle Paterson, former First Lady of New York; Arva Rice, president, NY Urban League, Len Burnett, Co-CEO, Group Publisher at Uptown Media Group, among other guests.
About The Links, Incorporated: The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of 12,000 professional women of color in 276 chapters located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Working closely with partners, sponsors and supporters, The Links, Incorporated is focused on creating transformational programming and impacting lives in communities of color. It is actively engaged throughout the country, providing both guidance and hands-on service to critically deserving individuals.
About The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated: The Metro-Manhattan (NY) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated continues the great mission of our parent organization through a variety of unique initiatives, programs and grants that focus on five areas: Services to Youth, The Arts, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and Health and Human Services. For more information, please visit http://www.metromanhattanlinksinc.org.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.