BxCM Gala Celebrates Children of the Bronx, Honors Valerie Washington and Sunny Hostin
A festival setting at Zona de Cuba, atop the historic Post Office located on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
BRONX, N.Y. — On Tuesday, June 21st, the night of the Summer Solstice, Bronx Children’s Museum celebrated the borough’s next generation and honored two extraordinary Bronx luminaries — Valerie Washington and Sunny Hostin — at its 5th Annual Gala. Held at Zona de Cuba, high atop the historic Post Office located on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, the Museum hosted community members, longtime supporters, and Bronx dignitaries at “Summer Under the Stars,” the theme for this year’s gala.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson presents the Richard Abrons Impact Award to Honoree Valerie Washington. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia
Valerie Washington is a Lehman College (CUNY) Professor Emeritus, innovator in teacher education and former Bronx elementary school teacher. During her comments, she referenced the power of museum experiences. “When I became an elementary school teacher, museum visits became part of my curriculum planning. It was integrated into the curriculum. These were important learnings for my students; students, who like me, had seldom ventured outside their neighborhood.” In regards to the opening of the Bronx Children’s Museum’s building, Washington remarked, “It’s been a long journey, but it’s been a wonderful, successful journey that we’re all looking forward to. It’s going to be very exciting. It took a very thoughtful, creative and insightful group of people to take on the challenge of developing the Museum.”
Bronx Children's Museum Imagination Award was presented to Honoree Sunny Hostin by former Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr.
Sunny Hostin is a three-time Emmy Award-winning co-host of ABC’s The View and New York Times bestselling author. “By joining the Board, I wanted to give the children of the Bronx what my parents gave me, which was just the opportunity to experience culture and the arts,” she shared. “When you think about the Bronx and the fact that kids dream so big, if we give them the support they need — what many don’t have — we can make a difference and fill in the gap. Let’s push forward and make sure the Bronx Children’s Museum not only opens in November, but continues to keep the doors open forever.”
Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr and wife Linda Baldwin. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia
Current Bronx Borough President (BBP) Vanessa Gibson presented the Richard Abrons Impact Award to Valerie Washington, while former BPP Rubén Díaz Jr presented the Imagination Award to Hostin. Former BBP Adolfo Carrión Jr., whose original idea it was to establish a children’s museum in the only borough that did not have one, was also in attendance. In a special pre-recorded tribute Kerry Washington, actress, advocate and daughter of Honoree Valerie Washington, commended her mother for “always being a beacon and a positive force for good that reminds people that children in the Bronx matter.” She continued, “So many children have loved you, been loved by you, inspired by you and have had their lives transformed by you. You have made the Bronx a better place for all of us, one child at a time.”
Kerry Washington, daughter of Honoree Valerie Washington, pays tribute to her mother during a pre-recorded video.
Long-time Museum supporter, actor and author, Sonia Manzano. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia
Writer, actor and long-time Museum champion Sonia Manzano (formerly “Maria” of Sesame Street) introduced a powerful video showcasing the Museum’s 2022 GreenArts Afterschool Program at PS 55. “Having been involved with the Museum since its conception in 2005, and for so long with Sesame Street and now Fred Rogers, I know the importance of early childhood education and having a place for children to use their imagination and flex their muscles,” said Manzano. “It’s important for children to have a place to come to where they can escape what’s going on in their lives. The thing about kids is that you do not have to take them the whole way; you just have to point them in the right direction. The Bronx Children’s Museum does just that!” “I am extremely proud to see this moment in history when we open the doors of our first-ever Bronx Children’s Museum,” said BBP Gibson. “Our families will have their own Museum to enjoy for their children and the generations of young people who will visit.” “It’s thrilling to be here tonight to kick off the Museum’s countdown to opening and honor two Bronx luminaries. Sunny Hostin and Valerie Washington exemplify the talent and determination found in Bronx children,” said Díaz Jr. “The Bronx Children’s Museum facility was one of the first capital projects I supported when I was elected to the role of Borough President. We finally have an amenity where children and their parents will be able to regularly come to have fun, learn, create and bond for years to come.”
BxCM Board President Arlene Bascom with NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia
"The Bronx Children's Museum does an extraordinary job sharing the joy, excitement and transformative benefits of arts and culture with youth across the Bronx and beyond," said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. "Congratulations to the Summer Under the Stars gala honorees, Sunny Hostin and Valerie Washington, who we're proud to join as supporters of this amazing institution. I can't wait for the opening of the Museum's incredible new facility in Mill Pond Park. My son and I will be some of the first people in line to visit!"
NY Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez, BxCM Board of Directors President Arlene Bascom, Executive Director Carla Precht, Former BxCM Board President Hope Harley, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and NYC Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia
NY State Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, BxCM Board Member April Horton, former NY State Assembly Member Marcos Crespo and wife, Virna Crespo. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia
Also in attendance were NY Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez, NYS Assemblymember Latoya Joyner, NYC Councilmembers Althea Stevens and Marjorie Velázquez, and NYC Parks Deputy Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, among other special guests.
Bronx Children's Museum Board of Directors President Arlene Bascom with Executive Director Carla Precht. Photo: Keyz2LifeMedia
The Museum's Executive Director Carla Precht and Board President Arlene Bascom thanked the many supporters and attendees of the Museum’s most important fundraising event of the year, ahead of its opening. “It has been a long journey with many obstacles on the way to opening the doors to the first-ever children’s museum facility in the Bronx. However, the Museum’s building will open this Fall, even if all of our exhibits are not 100% complete,” said Precht. “It is so important that children and families start coming into the building, experience the beautiful space and grow with us as we fully realize our dream.”
“We are very grateful for the generous support of all our sponsors, funders and our elected and appointed officials,” said Bascom. “In today’s environment, it is vital that we provide safe spaces for children to be children. Spaces where they can play, learn and grow. Spaces that encourage them to explore, experiment, create and to express themselves. Spaces of yes!”
Board Member Richard Stein auctions off four mason jars of "Genuine Bronx Air," which went for a total of $3200.
Thanks to everyone who made the event a success!
Rafael Collado, Hope Harley, Sonia Manzano, Carla Precht, Kerry Washington
Co-Chairs: Lee Michel and Kate Green
Arlene Bascom, Amanda Collado-Milligan, Nick Crowell, Antonnique Day,
Kim Emile, Jillian Faulls, Stanley and Linda Green, Jerome LaMaar, Richard Stein and Hilary Baum