my nine years of hosting hundreds of events in the Grand Ballroom meeting Vice
President, Joe Biden has now ranked ahead of Liza, Barbara and Bette. My
first reaction when I met the former VP was how sincere and genuine his
infectious smile and friendly candor were. After a brief
introduction, what really took me by surprise was what he did next. He
grabbed my phone and - direct quote - said, “Rob do you want to take a selfie?”
It was the absolute last thing I would have ever expected him to say to
me. Twenty minutes later and over 50 photo requests in the VP still
remained as warm and engaging as he did when he first entered the
Ballroom. If I had to chose two words to describe the VP I would say
authentic and a gentleman. Rarely seen combo with such a public figure.
Now to reason why the VP was at the Plaza –it was to receive the HELP HERO Humanitarian Award. It was HELP USA’s 30th Anniversary luncheon where Governor Andrew Cuomo who founded HELP USA presented Vice President Biden with his award. The award recognizes Vice President Biden's outstanding service to veterans and their families, and his long record of support for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, including the landmark Violence Against Women's Act of 1994. Moments into his welcome remarks the Vice President reminisced about his father and the impact he had on his life when he was a young man. A rather emotional Vice President Biden told the extremely quiet crowd, "My father instilled in me and my siblings a basic value set: that the greatest sin is the abuse of power, the cardinal sin is a man raising his hand to a woman or a child, and everyone – and he meant everyone – was entitled to be treated with dignity and respect,". "We have made tremendous progress in changing the culture around domestic violence and sexual assault since I wrote the Violence Against Women Act in the 1990s, but none of it would have happened without organizations like HELP USA -- local community leaders and workers who figuratively and literally reach out and welcome abused women and their children. HELP USA is simply the best at what they do, and I am so honored and grateful to receive this award from them today."
I have often said that the success of every great event is determined in the first few moments. Maria Cuomo Cole, Chairman of HELP USA did just that in her opening remarks. Her warmth and dedication shines through in all her projects. Once again, she has proven n that action does speak louder than words. I looked over to her mother and could see her beaming with pride.