Eric Adams with Honorees MaryAnne Gilmartin & Bruce Ratner

Eric Adams with Honorees MaryAnne Gilmartin & Bruce Ratner

Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) milestone 150th Anniversary Kick-Off Gala, held June 6 at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, has raised over $1.1 million, a new record for BCS.

“Our BCS 150th Anniversary Kick-Off Gala not only recognized the historic impact of our organization on Brooklynites, it was also a record-breaking financial success. The $1.1 million dollars raised will go directly into the BCS programs,” said Marla Simpson, Executive Director, BCS. “I want to extend a special thank you to Charles Hamm, a longtime BCS supporter and former BCS Chairman of the Board, for a major $500,000 donation. It will make an instrumental impact on BCS clients.”

The elegant 150th Anniversary Kick-Off Gala honored Brooklyn’s visionary trailblazers: philanthropists and long-time BCS supporters Charles J. and Irene Hamm, builder and corporate leader Forest City Ratner Companies, NYC First Lady and mental health care activist Chirlane McCray, BCS program honoree Lanetta Darlington and BCS outstanding service honoree is Ellen Fine Levine. The emcee for the gala was Carla Hall, co-host of ABC’s The Chew and the owner of Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen Restaurant in Brooklyn.

Charles J. and Irene Hamm received the BCS Philanthropic Leadership Award.   Charles J. Hamm started his illustrious career in advertising and marketing, becoming Executive Vice President at McCann Erickson. After 24 years in advertising, he became President and CEO of Independence Savings Bank. From its Brooklyn headquarters, he grew the community-based bank from eight branches to 150. In 1998, he founded Independence Community Foundation, now known as the Brooklyn Community Foundation. In addition to his long service on the BCS Board of Directors, including as Chairman, Charlie’s impact has been felt throughout Brooklyn, through his work with such great institutions as Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Academy of Music and Pratt Institute. Former Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, presented the award to Mr. and Mrs. Hamm.

Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of the City of New York, received the BCS Civic Leadership Award “BCS has always been as vigorous and dynamic as Brooklyn itself, “ stated Ms. McCray, a longtime Brooklyn resident and community advocate. “Throughout its history, the organization has been at the forefront of movements that would go on to change the world.” A graduate of Wellesley College, she began her career as writer, editor and marketing analyst with Redbook, Essence and other magazines. She served as a speechwriter for Mayor David Dinkins and New York State Comptroller Carl McCall. As First Lady, she also serves as Chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. An outspoken advocate of the need to break the stigma associated with mental illness and expand access to care, Ms. McCray joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2015 to release a groundbreaking mental health roadmap, ThriveNYC. Today, she spearheads the City’s efforts to transform mental health care throughout all communities. “In 2016, BCS joined with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration to partner with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City on a very important initiative called Connections to Care,” she said. “It’s a signature initiative of Thrive NYC that is bringing mental health resources into the 15 organizations that already provide to the most vulnerable New Yorkers.” The presenter was Michael Berry, a mental health advocate and former BCS client.

Forest City Ratner Companies received the BCS Corporate Leadership Award. Forest City’s leadership in the construction of Downtown Brooklyn paved the way for the economic boom Brooklyn is experiencing today. From the MetroTech Center in 1992 to Atlantic Center in 2004 to Barclays Center in 2012, Forest City has built with a deep seated belief in Brooklyn and the people who live here. Bruce C. Ratner, Forest City Ratner’s Executive Chairman and former member of the BCS Board of Directors and MaryAnne Gilmartin, Forest City Ratner’s President and CEO, accepted the award on behalf of the company. “Forest City Ratner is not only committed to the borough of Brooklyn to insure that we have solid buildings, but we have solid families. Some of the people who will live in this new housing believe that they were not deserving of having a quality life. They felt that displacement was equal to development and Bruce changed that,” said presenter Eric L. Adams, Brooklyn Borough President. “You cannot be judged by brick and mortar. You must be judged on how you build people.”

Lanetta Darlington received the BCS Program Leadership Award. Ms. Darlington attended the BCS Gary Klinsky Children’s Centers (GKCC) after-school program at P.S. 149 in East New York as a child. Her parents, who emigrated to Brooklyn from Guyana, inspired Lanetta to focus on academics. She graduated as high school salutatorian and earned an accounting degree from NYU. During high school, she worked as a teacher’s aide with GKCC at P.S. 149, mentoring students. Today, she is a successful financial analyst at New York Presbyterian. She remains committed to GKCC as a volunteer and is also involved in community work in her East New York neighborhood, where she continues to reside with her husband and daughter. Steven Klinsky, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Mountain Capital, a former BCS Board member and long-time benefactor of the GKCC program, presented the award. “Without a doubt, GKCC has had a great impact in my life,” said Ms. Darlington. “The program taught me to be curious and not complacent. Asking questions such as ‘what’, ‘if,’’ how,’ and ‘why?” I learned the importance of creativity and knowing that it’s ok to think differently. That knowing that I had something special to offer.”

Ellen Fine Levine – BCS ONE Brooklyn Community Outstanding Service Award.  Ms. Levine is  Vice-Chair and Treasurer of the BCS Board of Directors. Through her exemplary service on the BCS Board since 2007, Ms. Levine has had a lasting impact on BCS and all those we serve. Until her retirement in 2015, Ms. Fine Levine was Managing Director and Executive Client Officer of The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), and previously, the company’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. She is a Certified Public Accountant and Member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the NY State Society of Certified Public Accountants. She also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the UAlbany School of Business and Chairs the Gotham Comedy Foundation’s Board of Advisors. Edward Gentner, Esq., Senior Counsel at Cullen and Dykman LLP and Vice-Chair of the BCS Board of Directors, presented the award.

Monday night’s gala had a record number of corporate and individual sponsors.   Proceeds of the gala will support BCS programming.

In addition to signature event support from honorees Charles and Irene Hamm and Forest City Ratner Companies, BCS’s major gala sponsors and donors include: Bala Consulting Engineers, Robert Catell, CBRE, Citi, Louis Colombo, Con Edison, Corcoran, Cullen & Dykman, Cydean Group, Depository Trust & Clearing Corp, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, Lorraine DiPaolo, Alan Fishman, Gartner, Edward Gentner, Goldman Sachs, Greenberg Traurig, Investors Bank, Steven Klinsky, Charlie Lewis, M.C. O’Brien, Gerry McGinley, Robert Morgano, The New York Jets Foundation, The New York Mets, Optimum, Park Strategies, Pinnacle City Living, PVH, Susan Rifkin, Signature Construction, Susan Skerritt, Uber, Jonathan Weld and The Wright Group.

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About Brooklyn Community Services

BCS celebrates the strength of the human spirit, and in 2016, we celebrate our 150th Anniversary. Our mission is to empower at-risk children, youth and families, and adults with mental illness or developmental disabilities to overcome the obstacles they face, as we strive to ensure opportunity for all to learn, grow and contribute to ONE Brooklyn Community. To achieve this mission, we offer comprehensive and holistic services: early childhood education; youth development services and educationally rich after-school programs; counseling for at-risk families; treatment, recovery and job training to support the life goals of adults living with mental illness; person-centered rehabilitation and community living support for adults with developmental disabilities and disaster recovery case management and relief services. BCS also seeks to increase public awareness of the impacts of poverty on individuals and the community at-large. With a staff of over 400 and 25 program sites around the borough, BCS serves 12,000 people every year. Today, BCS is one of the oldest not-for-profit, non-sectarian social service providers in New York City.