Susan Sarandon celebrated her 72nd birthday early, alongside Danny Abeckaser Monday evening. The pair were honored by together1heart at their inaugural New York Gala at TAO Downtown. Together1heart works to end human trafficking and to support women’s rights globally. Susan showed up in a chic black pantsuit with flower embellishments on the collar. While walking the red carpet she spoke about the importance of not only saving girls from sex slavery, but integrating them back into society so they can support themselves.
It was an emotional evening with every speaker receiving a standing ovation. Bill Livermore, Executive Director of together1heart, cited a figure of 22 million girls currently held in sex slavery worldwide and the emergence of significantly younger women being sold into Cambodian brothel’s. “Somaly Mam recently rescued a child of only 22 months,” he said.
Sina Vann, herself a survivor of sex slavery, and now a staff member of together1heart, described the horrific conditions she was kept in against her will, and the joy she now experiences working with survivors. Actor, writer, and producer DannyAbeckaser received the “Voices for Change” award for his generous support of both the organization and for the chairman, actress AnnaLynne McCord. Said McCord, “This organization changed my life, gave me a sense of worth, and an understating of what one person can do. When you show up for children you change the world. I want to applaud everyone who showed up tonight.”
Susan Sarandon and Somaly Mam together on stage made an indelible impression. Said Susan, “In this time when you can be disheartened and distraught, look instead at how many women are finding their voices and how many men are standing beside them. Love is a powerful force and we are all privileged to be part of the love Somaly Mam brings to a difficult story. Look at what Somaly has done, what one person can do. She invited me to meet the young women and girls in her program. What I met were strong women. You don’t forget the past but you can move forward”. Said Somaly on closing, “Susan, I love you very much”.
Tao Downtown was filled with guests including model Carol Alt, Adrianna Beer, Andrea Cataneo, Yuliya Dan, Ezequiel de la Rosa, Victor DeSosa, Claude Hildenbrand, Arielle Jacobs (Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin), Jenn Lyon from HBO Claws, Jennifer MacFarlane, Ty-ron Mayes, Samira Panah, philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, and Chris Talbot.
together1heart works to care for and secure the rights of young women and girls who are victims, or at risk of being victims, of slavery, and to successfully recover, educate, train and reintegrate them into mainstream society through financial independence in a sustainable and innovative manner. They accomplish this by helping and teaching them how to achieve financial independence through sustainable careers. together1heart welcomes them to become a part of our survivor empowerment network.