Thursday, December 3, 2009


Hearts of Gold "It's a Love Thing" official T-SHIRT (from silent auction).
By Anita Sarko


OK ... so, you’ve seen “Precious” or have plans to
(remember to bring a box of tissues!). You’ve been moved and changed (or will be) and now you would like to do something HELPFUL for those less blessed than you are.

It was when she opened a Chelsea clothing boutique, Noir et Blanc, that former model and fashion stylist Deborah Koenigsberger’s awareness was triggered while witnessing the plight of the homeless women and children in the neighborhood. In 1996, she acted on her growing concerns and decided to do something about it. She founded Hearts of Gold.

Hearts of Gold has adopted homeless shelters, given out clothing, provided services and, most importantly, provided the means for the mothers to better their lives through helping them to get educated, medical attention and crisis counseling. Hearts of Gold has privately raised $1.6 million from volunteers and donors and has used these funds to help more than 10,000 families become independent of shelters.

Margaret Colin, Daphnee Duplaix, and Tamara Tunie
Which brings us to their 13th Annual Fall Fundraising Gala at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC. CNN Special Correspondent/Anchor Soledad O’Brien and actress Tamara Tunie were the co-Mistresses of Ceremony.

The place was packed with do-gooders, milling about tables featuring items available for silent auction and tables offering an impressive display of appetizers and spirits. Special guests, such as actress Lynn Whitfield, Ford model Emme, DJs Chuck Chillout, Stik-E and Johnny Dynell, performer/ motivational speaker/ entrepreneur/real estate firm owner Rhonda Ross (who has just joined the Advisory Board and was the night’s Honorary Chair) and actress Margaret Colin all cheerfully posed for pictures when they entered and obliged interviewers.

It was really cute and heart-warming watching the daughters and sons of members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors (the “Young Associates”) work so earnestly trying to get people to purchase keys for the “Treasure Chest” raffle for a necklace by the hot jewelry company Me & Ro. Two were sons of founder Koenigsberger. Obviously, these young men and women have acquired their parents’ great set of values and heart.

As we were all treated to a multi-course dinner, we were fed eye candy courtesy of a runway fashion show featuring the fall collections of Beth Bowley, Zapa, Teenflo and Transit. There was also a very lively non-silent auction, where lots of paddles were raised and lots of money was raised.
CHAN LUU BIB NECKLACE (part of silent auction).
BETH BOWLEY Sweater (part of silent auction). Diana Ross Silent Auction Offerings Placard.
As for the fashion off the runway, it was highly obvious that knee length boots are the must-have item in everyone’s wardrobes. Remember that if you have a woman who you need to gift lavishly for the upcoming holiday season or an upcoming birthday.

I’m afraid I left before the after party because I am an olde bag who has not only been to my share of after parties, but has deejayed my share of after parties. Considering the esteemed DJs in charge of the turntables that night, I’m certain that whoever did survive (the theme for the after party WAS the 70s, so, yes, that was a pun), not only held their heads up high, but boogie woogie woogied ‘til the cows came home.

This cow was probably asleep by then.
Soledad O'Brien, Tamara Tunie, Rhonda Ross (at podium), and Hearts of Gold Founder Deborah Koenigsberger. Kiss-FM DJs Chuck Chillout and Stik-E ("I'm the original screamer of "Shake what your mama gave ya").
Jacqueline Garbutt (an Alumni Mom), Tricia Blanchard, and Jazleen Garbutt. Lynn Whitfield, Judy Hutson, Deborah Koenigsberger, and Kithe Brewster.
Cheryl Barrett (in Zapa), Robin McCabe (in Ann taylor with Prada shoes) and Linda Maloney (in Roberta Freymann). Toby Aronson and mom, fabulous Ford model Emme. Mary Lee Haas (in Max Azria BCBG) and husband Lenny Haas.
All jokes aside, I have to admit I was really moved by this night. There was a large contingent called The Alumni Group. These are the women and children who have benefited from Hearts of Gold and, because of this organization, have been able to move out of the shelters and on with their lives. I spoke with one such mom, Jacqueline Garbutt and her daughter, Jazleen Garbutt. Koenigsberger helped them ten years ago when they were in a shelter. “She would buy clothing and hold holiday parties.” Jacqueline said. “Once I moved out (of the shelter), (Deborah) formed The Alumni Group. It meets once a month to see how we’ve grown. I now work at the same shelter I lived in.” Jazleen has been working at graduating high school and is presently planning to attend college to major in International Relations and Japanese.

“I love that there’s no red tape.” Emme gave as the reason she supports Hearts of Gold. “Deb will help with education, housing and clothing for women in dire need. Kids get excited when they know they’re going to get FED. And if there’s no water or heat, Deb gets it turned on. There’s no middle people, no bureaucracy.”

“She’ll burst through the door with Pampers and food. You know THAT hug!” Soledad O’Brien related from the stage. “Hearts of Gold offers career counseling, Metro Cards, Bobbi Brown makeup, jobs and scholarships. They get these moms out of the circle of dependency.”
Stephanie Barrett and Caroline O'Rourke. Rhonda Ross. Margaret Colin.
KISS-FM DJ Chuck Chillout, Hearts of Gold founder Deborah Koenigsberger, and DJ Johnny Dynell. Kerri and Richard Bartlett. Fashion Editor Adrien Field (wearing an Allison Parris recycled vintage stole, Armani trousers, Zara jacket and Yves St. Laurent shoes). Haime Munoz (wearing THE neck tie ofthe night: Ralph Lauren). Judy Hutson and Daphnee Duplaix ("One Life to Live").
And let’s give a great big shout out to all those moms who actually break the cycle of abuse and remove themselves and their children from whatever nightmare they find themselves starring in.

Anyone who sees “Precious” will understand that it takes so much strength, love, selflessness and sheer bravery to get to THAT point where one can make the change and face the unknown.

I would like to send a special thank you to Entertainment Publicist Judy Hutson for being such a help during this evening.

For further information on this most worthy of organizations, please visit their website

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