Honoring commitment to care
Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
“They’re all, in their own right, rising stars.”
Basketball Hall of Famer and former New York Knicks player Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, also nicknamed “Black Jesus,” would know of what he speaks.
Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990, Monroe was a four-time NBA All-Star guard and was celebrated for his twisting, spinning, faking, double-pump, and dribbling prowess on the court.
But on a recent evening in northern Manhattan, Monroe spoke not of fellow ball players, however, but of those in pursuit of another kind of slam-dunk: caring for those in need.
On Wed., Mar. 6th, at the Studio Museum of Harlem, the insurance provider EmblemHealth, which recently inaugurated a new center of care in northern Manhattan, together with Monroe, honored six neighborhood organizations for their work in providing vital aid to local residents.
Chief Marketing Officer Charlene Maher was the emcee of the night.
“You represent what EmblemHealth stands for,” Maher said to the award recipients.
Honorees included The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; the Abyssinian Development Corporation; Brotherhood/Sister Sol; Food Bank NYC; Harlem RBI; and Friends of Harlem Hospital.
As part of EmblemHealth’s inaugural “Commitment to Care – Lecture and Award Series”, the evening also featured Michael Maslansky, CEO of maslansky + partners and author of The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics. Maslansky addressed how nonprofits must adapt to garner support.
“It’s important to have a great story, but it’s also important to tell a great story,” emphasized Maslansky.
Guests enjoyed a selected menu, including Bananas Foster, from Marcus Samuelsson’s Harlem restaurant Red Rooster.
“It’s about what they’re doing for others—that’s what care should be about,” noted David Flemister, Emblem Health’s Director of Community Management. Flemister was himself born and raised in Harlem.
The representatives of the organizations honored spoke, in turn, with gratitude.
“Brothers and sisters of soul, I’m so proud to see you guys,” said Lloyd Williams, President and CEO of the Harlem Chamber of Commerce, which was founded in 1886.
“I’m so glad to be part of this community,” added Margarette Purvis, the CEO and Executive Director of New York Food Bank.
“The power of friendship is so much more powerful than one person at a time,” observed Maher in closing, “and the power that all of you bring to the community is immeasurable.”