Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization, and iHeartRadio joined together to broadcast Heroes of New York to celebrate the true impact of the extraordinary generosity and selflessness of New Yorkers, featuring innovative and dedicated individuals and organizations who have continued to help our neighbors in need.
The citywide, star-studded, one-hour show shed a light on the selfless efforts by New Yorkers from all walks of life to bring awareness and provide assistance to those who have been dramatically impacted by COVID-19.
Notable appearances included: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Al Pacino, Andra Day, Andy Cohen, The Breakfast Club’s DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne tha God, Eli Manning, Ice T, John McEnroe, Jon Stewart, Justin Tuck, Kelly Ripa, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Mariano Rivera, Mariska Hargitay, Michael Che, Michael Strahan, Ryan Seacrest, Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan. The show also featured performances by Andra Day who sang “Silent Night,” Mariah Carey who performed a special medley of three songs, David Bowie’s “Heroes,” her own “Hero,” and “Joy to the World,” and Tony Bennett, who sang “Smile.”
“New York is a special place. It’s got a grit and a determination all of its own and this year we saw that on full display. But when COVID-19 hit, this city quickly became the nation’s epicenter. For Black and Latinx New Yorkers and immigrant populations, these disparities are not new. In fact, over the past four years, half of the entire city lived in poverty for at least a year. With your help, we have supported over 600 organizations on the front lines,” said Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood. Moore continued: “We need federal action to increase food aid so that families don’t have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. And we need state action on COVID-19 relief that supports every one of our neighbors regardless of their immigration status.”
The special raised awareness of the efforts of the following everyday New Yorkers whose impact is drastically helping their community. These heroes are amongst countless others who are helping sustain the city through a very difficult time, and this hour gave New Yorkers the opportunity to express their gratitude:
- Orayne Williams of The Bronx Defenders: Orayne came to the U.S. from Jamaica as a young teenager, and struggled with homelessness while still in high school in Bed-Stuy. Despite living in a homeless shelter, he persevered and went on to become Valedictorian and to obtain his B.A. and M.S.W. degrees. Upon graduating, Orayne joined The Bronx Defenders who provide comprehensive legal and social services to families caught in the criminal legal and family regulation systems in the Bronx. In his role as a social worker, Orayne serves homeless youth and incarcerated young adults, leveraging his superpower of empathy and shared experience to serve those in need.
- Taina Rodriguez of Part of the Solution (POTS): Taina started visiting POTS in the Bronx at age 11 with her family who was struggling with food insecurity. When she was 14, POTS hired Taina as a cleaner, and since then she has since worn many hats for the organization, including cook and volunteer coordinator. Taina is currently serving as the Associate Director of POTS’ Food and Dignity Programs, overseeing emergency food and day-to-day programs. Since she first visited the soup kitchen, POTS has grown to become the leading provider of emergency food, social services, case management and legal representation in the Bronx, acting as a “one-stop shop” to help low-income individuals and families move from crisis to stability and ultimately self-sufficiency.
- Bonnie Coover and Justice Marin of Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS): Bonnie is a Nurse Practitioner and Justice is a Medical Assistant who work on CUCS’s street medicine team providing medical care for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Throughout the pandemic, this duo has been scouring the streets of NYC to locate people who need medical attention, COVID testing, and referrals to resources, housing, and mental health services. CUCS helps individuals and families throughout NYC rise from poverty, exit homelessness, and be healthy.
- Allison Julien of National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA): Allison came from Barbados and was working as a nanny when she got involved with advocating for labor rights for domestic workers. She has since become a founding member of the NDWA, who act as the nation’s leading voice for domestic workers who Allison lovingly refers to as the backbone of New York City. Throughout the pandemic, Allison has helped to get cash assistance to thousands of domestic workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.
- Athenia Rodney of United for Brownsville: Athenia is a wife, mother of three, entrepreneur, change maker, and a member of United for Brownsville’s Family Advisory Board (FAB). The FAB is a group of resident leaders who steer the work of United for Brownsville — a collaboration between SCO Family of Services and Community Solutions — to create a more equitable early childhood system in their community. As the pandemic hit, Athenia stepped into a new role as a staff member of United for Brownsville, where she has worked to create resource guides, virtual learning sessions for children, support groups for families, and more, to create community-led solutions for her neighbors.
Funds raised through “Heroes of New York” will support Robin Hood’s relief and recovery efforts to help fellow New Yorkers rebuild their lives. One hundred percent of donations raised are deployed directly to the organizations on the frontlines who are providing support for food, shelter, cash assistance, health and mental health, legal services, education and more.
“People say that New York City has a tough veneer — but when you meet these heroes who will risk their lives to drive a subway car, run a homeless shelter or give their last dollar to a neighbor who can’t eat, you realize that this city is truly one of the most compassionate places on earth,” said John Sykes, iHeartMedia’s President of Entertainment Enterprises.
The show closed with the debut of “We Will Rise,” a tribute to the sacrifices of the frontline workers who saved New York City at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Heroes of New York” is produced by Alex Coletti Productions, Alex Coletti Executive Producer and John Sykes, iHeartMedia’s President of Entertainment Enterprises, along with Co-Executive Producers Casey Patterson, Rick Krim and Marta Ravin.
To learn more about Robin Hood’s response to the pandemic and the organization, or to donate, please go to www.robinhood.org.