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Editor’s Note: November 2013

This issue’s theme, philanthropy, is viewed through the eyes of notable—not to mention altruistic—New Yorkers like Jake Gyllenhaal and John Legend, who write about how they got involved in their respective organizations and why fighting for them matters.

Cristina Cuomo

It’s no coincidence that the groups they support are here in New York City, because charity does begin at home. As we well know, NYC has it all: the best of everything, yet some of the worst as well. Literally just steps from our doors, we regularly see fellow New Yorkers desperately in need of every type of help they can get. So the stories in this issue are focused on charities that are making a difference right here at home.

Speaking of charity beginning at home, when my daughter, Bella, was 8, we began visiting a crisis center in Harlem, where she plays with the children who seek shelter there with their families, all of whom are trying their best to get back on their feet. I watch as the toddlers flock to her—hang on her, giving her countless hugs, hoping for hugs back. She reads them books, sings them songs, plays games with them and has fun for hours.

Amazingly, children realize instinctively that kids are kids everywhere—no matter how different their lives are, they laugh at the same things, are fascinated by the same things. For Bella, the experience reinforces two lessons my lecturing never could: that you can’t judge people by their circumstances in life, and that you have to appreciate the blessings you have, no matter how big or small.

The last time we made our way home from the center, Bella sang “Already Home,” one of Glinda the Good Witch’s songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Wizard of Oz. She stopped singing at one point and said, “Mommy, those kids just need a home, too.”

Happy holidays.