More than 325 people attended the Celebration of Hope: A Cocktail Reception to Benefit Children and Families at the elegant Pierre Hotel last night to honor longtime JCCA Trustee Michael Katz. The event raised $920,000 to support vulnerable and at-risk youth whom JCCA serves. JCCA is one of the nation’s oldest child and family services agencies. Katie Jacobs of Christie’s Auction House conducted the auction, which raised $123,000.

Mr. Katz is a Senior Partner at Sterling Equities, a family business that has interests in real estate and the New York Mets. He has been involved with JCCA for 25 years and has chaired and participated in many committees such as Investments, Budget, Audit and Strategic Planning. He serves on numerous charitable Boards and is a Board member of the New York Mets.

A highlight of the evening was a speech by Kimberly, a young woman who was a victim of commercial sexual exploitation who attended JCCA’s specialized Gateways program. She said, “The staff never gave up on me. They said, ‘you are priceless.’ So I decided to not give up on myself!!! Today, I am a beautiful, strong woman despite what I have experienced. I am a proud high school graduate, a licensed cosmetologist AND I am an advocate against the sexual exploitation of children and domestic trafficking. I am living proof that change can happen!”

For 192 years, JCCA has served vulnerable, at-risk children and families who have been neglected or abused, immigrant families and those building new lives. These services include foster care, mental health and prevention services, residential treatment programs, services to recent immigrants, education and early childhood services, special needs programs and adoption.

According to Richard Altman, CEO of JCCA, “We are pleased to honor Michael and his contributions to the growth of our organization. This was a memorable evening that underscored our belief that every child deserves to grow up hopeful.”