More than 300 friends, family, supporters, staff, donors and City officials gathered at Marina del Rey Caterers in the Bronx for the Unique People Services (UPS) 25th Anniversary Gala, which was held on Thursday, October 20th.
The festive event, emceed once again by WABC-TV Reporter A.J. Ross, was sponsored by Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office, Lamb Financial Group and Procida Construction Corporation. Approximately $300,000 was generously raised at the event, helping to enhance Unique People Services programs and services for individuals with HIV/AIDS, developmental disabilities, and mental health challenges.
After a magnificent cocktail hour, silent auction preview and a stirring rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” performed by UPS Individual, Ann Concepcion, guests were ushered into the grand ballroom with waterfront views of the East River overlooking the Throgs Neck Bridge. The evening’s program – A Celebration of Unique People – kicked off with inspiring words from Executive Director Yvette Brissett-Andre, noting the heartfelt mission instilled in staff by UPS’ late founder, Lynn Wonsang, and the many supporters who help the agency carry out her legacy to enrich the lives of New Yorkers with special and challenging needs. An exciting awards ceremony followed, as UPS executives and Board members paid tribute to the agency’s 2016 Honorees: Chantae Jones (Individual of the Year); Josh Lamberg, Principal, Lamb Financial Group (Community Award recipient); Peter Setaro of Enterprise Fleet Management (Business Award recipient); Saundra Thomas, Vice President of Community Affairs, WABC-TV (Media Award recipient); New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverto (Champion Award recipient); and Larry and Adam Weiss of Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office, recipients of this year’s Lynn Wonsang Award.
The father/son honorees also led the evening’s Live Ask – UPS’ Buy-A-Brick initiative – enabling attendees to purchase personalized bricks to be placed throughout Lynn’s Place (the agency’s first affordable housing unit opening in 2017) and help support vital services for UPS individuals. To date, the Ask has raised more than $16,000, with online fundraising still available to anyone wishing to contribute to the campaign or to the agency’s silent auction.
Following the Ask, New York City Council Member James Vacca (D-Bronx) presented Unique People Services with a Proclamation from the City of New York for 25 years of exemplary service to the community. During the gala, UPS also unveiled their new website redesign. A nostalgic 25th Anniversary video was also screened, capturing the heart of the agency’s mission and the countless lives touched over the years, through a historical retrospective of Past, Present and Future.
One of the night’s most moving moments occurred when Chantae Jones was honored as UPS’ Individual of the Year, recognized for her incredible growth as a participant in the agency’s Bronx Day Habilitation Program. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Chantae thanked UPS staff and her loving father for guiding her on a successful journey toward increased independence, social inclusion and employment.
“Chantae’s remarkable accomplishments showcase why we do the work that we do and all that is possible when you impact lives,” Brissett-Andre says. “Congratulations to Chantae and all our 25th Anniversary honorees, and a big thank you to my terrific staff, dedicated Board members and UPS’ many donors for sharing our vision of life-changing services for individuals in need. It was truly a special anniversary celebration – one Lynn would be proud of. I look forward to embarking on new chapters like Lynn’s Place, and creating exciting new memories in the years ahead.”
About Unique People Services
Founded in 1991, Unique People Services, Inc. (UPS) is a New York-based nonprofit 501(c)3 that provides supportive housing and medical case management services to individuals and families living with mental health challenges, developmental disabilities and HIV/AIDS.Now celebrating its 25th Anniversary, the agency operates 24 supportive housing programs in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester County.
More than 500 New Yorkers call UPS’ home, living in well-appointed residences where they receive meals and support services to help them achieve the highest possible levels of independent living and community inclusion. The transitional, long-term and permanent housing UPS provides has also become a safe haven for many formerly homeless individuals.
With the opening of Lynn’s Place in 2017, the agency’sfirst affordable housing initiative, UPS will help transform more lives, deepening its mission of Understanding People, Providing Homes, and Serving Communities. For more information about Unique People Services, visit here.