Raise your hand: How many of you were at the first Housewares Charity Foundation gala during the 1998 Housewares Show?
If you were inside the Chicago Sheraton ballroom that January evening, you might recall how curious anticipation warmed into proud satisfaction that the housewares industry had successfully launched its charitable crusade.
HCF raised more than a half million dollars to fight multiple sclerosis at that inaugural gala on behalf of honorees Ron Johnson, then of Target; Barbara Pizzella, then of Sears; Scott Silver, then of Bloomingdale’s; and the late Tony Stebbins of Newell.
HCF founders, despite their optimism and commitment at the time, were hard-pressed to predict the next year, let alone the next 20.
As the Housewares Charity Foundation celebrates its 20th annual fundraiser tonight at the Navy Pier, there’s little doubt HCF has blossomed into one of the most active and accomplished industry charity organizations in the country.
HCF has honored dozens of industry leaders and raised more than $48 million mainly for its legacy charity, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, as well as more than 25 other charities supported by the annual honorees.
This year’s honorees are Janet Hayes, president of Williams-Sonoma, Richard Boynton, president of Jura; and Phil Brandl, president and CEO of the IHA. Proceeds this year will benefit BCRF and No Kid Hungry, a charity supported by Williams-Sonoma that gives children access to healthy food.
While HCF donations have covered a wide swath of vital causes, it is the foundation’s core support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation that has inspired its philanthropic pledge through the years. BCRF brought to housewares charity the high-profile involvement of Estee Lauder Companies’ Evelyn Lauder, whose impassioned BCRF leadership defined the fight to defeat breast cancer… as it still does even after ovarian cancer claimed her life in 2011.
Leonard Lauder carries his wife’s torch as a motivating reminder that the work of HCF and BCRF, despite tremendous strides the past two decades, is hardly done.
HomeWorld Business, like every company in this industry, has confronted breast cancer. However, in the courageous battle and victory against the disease by our own Cyndi Evans, an HCF founder and 2002 HCF honoree (less than year after she was stricken), we have embraced the hope for a cure.
Raise your hand: How many of you stand at each Housewares Charity Foundation gala when asked if you know someone that have been afflicted with breast cancer? It is among the most poignant moments each year when nearly everyone stands.
And it spotlights the call for continued support of the crusade by HCF and BCRF to defeat breast cancer… so fewer and fewer people stand to that question with each passing year until, one day, there is no need to even ask.