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For Immediate Release

Contact: Alison Berg


(212) 784-5707


Urban Resource Institute’s Annual Celebration: Rise Up! Raises Nearly $600,000 to Support Essential Domestic Violence and Homeless Services 

Virtual fundraising gala supports URI’s comprehensive programming while honoring inspiring partners and clients 

New York, October 20, 2021 — Urban Resource Institute (URI), the largest provider of domestic violence residential services in the United States and a leading provider of homeless services in New York City, exceeded fundraising goals and raised nearly $600,000 at its annual celebration on Wednesday, October 20. The URI Celebration: Rise Up! virtual event spotlighted URI supporters, friends, staff, and special guests who “rise up” to support the mission of a world free of domestic violence and homelessness. The virtual event was free to attend thanks to the fundraising support of sponsors. A full recording is available on the URI Celebration web page.

“Each day, we are inspired by our clients who rise up to overcome domestic violence and homelessness, and through their own determination and resilience, utilize our programs to change their lives for the better and create brighter futures for their families. It is only fitting that our annual fundraiser adopts this remarkable theme of rising up,” said Nathaniel Fields, Chief Executive Officer of URI. “Behind this impact are the incredible staff, board members, partners, and supporters who rise up to deliver our mission, hundreds of whom joined together in our virtual celebration to enjoy an evening of hope, inspiration, and community. A special thank you to our generous donors and sponsors, including Presenting Sponsors Heights Advisors and A1 Equities, who helped us exceed our fundraising goals. Together, we will rise up higher.”

The award-winning comedian, author, and semi-finalist on “America’s Got Talent” Jackie Fabulous hosted the evening’s program, with special guests John Quiñones, news correspondent and television host, and Joy Taylor, sports radio and television host, domestic violence survivor, and URI Ambassador. Vy Higginsen’s extraordinary Sing Harlem! Choir delivered rousing performances to match the high spirits of the celebration. The hour-long, virtual celebration highlighted the people behind the programs – the dedicated board and staff, and, above all, the inspiring clients who shared their stories of rising up.

Three awards were presented during the virtual Celebration. PetSmart Charities received the Trailblazer Award, accepted by their president Aimee Gilbreath. The award is in recognition of their longtime support of the pioneering URI People and Animals Living Safely (PALS) program and PetSmart Charities’ deep commitment to addressing the human-animal bond in times of trauma.

“As the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, PetSmart Charities is proud to serve our community by supporting organizations like Urban Resource Institute that are catalysts of change and recognize the importance of the human-animal bond,” said President of PetSmart Charities, Aimee Gilbreath. “At PetSmart Charities, we believe pets are important members of the family and we’re proud that URI shares this same belief – the belief that in order to help and serve a family through times of crisis, you need to keep families together. This means taking care of the needs of every single member of the family, pets included.”

Two Triumph Awards were presented to former URI clients who demonstrate the resilience to rise up:

  • Deedra Cheatham, a domestic violence survivor, was able to enter shelter with her children and their beloved pet turtle when she learned the URI PALS program would accept the entire family, pet included. She was able to bring her family to safety after 15 years in an abusive relationship. She credits URI’s supportive staff and comprehensive programs for enabling her to rebuild her life and become a political organizer. Deedra is now Director of Constituent Services for New York City Councilmember Stephen Levin, and she was instrumental in the recent passage of legislation for building a path to permitting pets in homeless shelters.
  • Lindsay Coker entered one of URI’s homeless shelters with her two young daughters and, after some challenging times, immersed herself in the programs and opportunities to build a better life for her family. She found the support and stability to take responsibility and accountability for her future, including securing permanent housing and a promising job with the New York City Parks Department. She is proud to serve as a role model for her daughters by demonstrating that you should rise up, not give up.

The virtual URI Celebration program is available here. All funds raised from the event will support URI’s life-saving prevention, intervention, and emergency services for individuals and families impacted by domestic violence and homelessness.

About Urban Resource Institute

Urban Resource Institute (URI) is a leading non-profit organization that empowers individuals, families, communities, particularly communities of color and other disenfranchised populations, to end cycles of violence, homelessness, poverty, and trauma by increasing safety and resiliency. As the largest provider of domestic violence shelter services in the country, URI’s programs provide care for survivors of domestic violence, homeless families, and other at-risk populations, allowing them to live in safety and recover from trauma in both residential and non-residential settings. With deep community relationships and a flexible, innovative approach to program development and service delivery, URI is uniquely equipped to provide solutions to the challenges affecting New York City’s most vulnerable populations. For more information, please visit www.urinyc.org.