The Needlers Foundation Takes Fashion beyond Pretty Clothes

It is almost that time again. Fashion-forward celebrities, sexy sirens with cutting-edge designs and darlings of the media will preen and pose for paparazzi and fashion-obsessed fans. That’s right Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is almost here. And though this pop culture phenomenon at times does seem like the perfect event for folks who spend a lot of time and money getting camera ready, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is so much more than that.

The real heroes of Fashion Week are those industry professionals who selfishly sacrifice their time and energies to make fashion one of the biggest industries in this countries. Yes, fashion is about outward appearances, but behind the glitter and the glam there are organizations that give back to society in ways that go beyond stiletto shoes and embellished garments. The Needlers Foundation is just one of those organizations.

The Needlers Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that contributes exclusively to children’s organization. “It started about fifty years ago. My father and a couple of garment industry buddies started a charity that would help unemployed garment workers’ pay their mortgage or other expenses. It was a pretty successful idea and that concept morphed into a children’s charity organization. Over the past fifty years we have raised millions of dollars for children’s charities,” details The Needlers Foundation President Scott Fishman.  And in those fifty years The Needlers Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to the INN Project at NYC’s Roosevelt Hospital, the Pediatric Wing at NYU Medical Center, The Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, and The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore.

The Needlers’ Officers congratulate Dr. Alejandro Berenstein of Roosevelt Hospital and Ethiopian four year old patient, Sami Hailermariam. Needlers’ charitable funds contributed to saving life of Ethiopian girl with fatal facial disfigurement treated at Roosevelt Hospital. Image courtesy of The Needlers Foundation

The biggest recipient of The Needlers Foundation’s largesse is the INN (the Hyman-Newman Institute for Neurology and Neurosurgery) Project at Roosevelt Hospital. In fact, The Needlers have raised millions that sponsors their own wing, the Needlers Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, at Roosevelt Hospital. “Children who have neurosurgical needs are identified by the INN Project’s administrators. The Needlers funds the program and pays for all of the families’ expenses, even for the parents to come and stay with children while they are receiving treatment at Roosevelt Hospital,” explains Fishman.

Originally comprised mostly of workers from the garment district, The Needlers Foundation now includes professionals from a variety of industries. “As manufacturing in this country started to diminish, we had to fill our ranks with professionals from other industries. And in fact, some of the former garment workers went on to have successful careers in other industries and stayed on as members … There were several charities that grew out of the garment industry. Over the years some of those charities died out, so The Needlers Foundation was able to incorporate members from those defunct charities into our charity. We now have 1600 members strong” purports Fishman.

Funding for The Needlers Foundation charities comes from its members and a series of fundraisers held throughout the year. On August 27, The Needlers holds its annual Golf Outing which raises over $200,000 and in October The Needlers will sponsor their annual gala  for the “Retailer of the Year” at the Waldorf-Astoria which brings in over $2 million dollars.

“We all work very hard in the garment industry and it is wonderful to give something back to people less fortunate, especially children who otherwise would not receive the medical care that they need. It really takes the focus off of yourself and you know that you are giving to children who are really benefiting from your charity, ” admits Fishman.

We should all learn that lesson!!

—William S. Gooch

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