The Women Mean Business Luncheon Raises $239,000 for First Step!

On April 3, the Coalition for the Homeless held the 20th Annual Women Mean Business Luncheon. Four hundred caring New Yorkers – from business leaders to government officials to social activists – attended the event, which raised an impressive $239,000 to support the First Step Job Training Program for homeless and low-income women.

Event emcee and Coalition board member Laurence Boschetto warmly welcomed the guests and highlighted the tremendous accomplishments of the First Step program. First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray gave a stirring keynote address, commending the graduates on their commitment and resilience and pledging to use her influence to reduce homelessness in the city.

This year’s graduate speaker, Rosalind, bravely told her life story and how she came to First Step. After graduating high school, Rosalind left her home in Antigua and Barbuda to come to America to pursue her career, only to have her dreams put on hold for nearly twenty years by one setback after another. With the help of First Step, she was able to overcome all of her past difficulties and now has a career she loves – and is an inspiring role model for her teenage daughter.

Another high point of the event was the premier of our most recent video profile, featuring First Step graduate Lakisha. Lakisha’s challenges started young, as she lost her father to a drug overdose when she was only seven years old – and then tragically a few years later, her mother to AIDS. Orphaned at such a young age, Lakisha was placed with a foster family who emotionally abused her. When she aged out of foster care, she found herself on her own without any support. She enrolled in First Step to refresh her skills and find her career passion. She was placed in an internship in the Coalition’s Eviction Prevention Program, where she discovered her own drive to help those in need – and was eventually hired into the position where she is a true star, beloved by her clients. Watch Lakisha’s story here:

The luncheon culminated in the presentation of this year’s Corporate Partnership Award to Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP – one of New York’s premier law firms, which continues to provide internships, full-time jobs and financial support to First Step. They are true leaders in bringing compassion and corporate responsibility to our city.

Guests were treated to gift bags filled with goodies from Alecia Bakery, Bumble + bumble, Butter Lane Bakery, Deloitte, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Fat Witch Bakery, Lane Office and Texas de Brazil.

We’re sincerely thankful to the attendees, sponsors, committee and board members, and First Step graduates who helped make our 20th anniversary event a wonderful success. The event wouldn’t have been possible without everyone’s incredible generosity!