The HOPE Program’s ‘A Taste of HOPE’ presents tastings, toasts, transformations

Brooklyn Resident Tod Mann To be Honored

May 14, 2014 Special from The HOPE Program
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Celebrity chef and bestselling cookbook author Rocco Dispirito will be among the dozens enjoying an evening of tastes, toasts and transformations at The HOPE Program’s third annual ‘A Taste of Hope’ fundraising event. The work-readiness nonprofit’s signature program is being held on Thursday, May 15 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Steelcase, Inc., overlooking Central Park.

This year, longtime HOPE volunteer Tod Mann of Brooklyn will be honored for his service. Mann, who is widely known throughout the Downtown Brooklyn community, has served as Board Chair and Treasurer, on the Development Committee, and as Chair of the Investment Committee.

“HOPE aims to provide struggling New Yorkers with the necessary tools and skills to rebuild their lives and strengthen their communities,” said Jennifer Mitchell, executive director of the HOPE Program. “We are extremely thankful for all of the support that is given to us through the ‘Taste of HOPE’ event and from our employer partners and volunteers. It will be with great pleasure that we honor our board member and friend Tod Mann who has been so dedicated to helping advance the HOPE mission over the past 20 years.”

‘A Taste of HOPE’s’ food partners, donating a variety of foods, wines, beer and spirits include local culinary businesses such as Butter Beans, Chelsea Market Baskets, Evelyn’s Kitchen, Neuman’s Kitchen and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, among others. These partners are also employers of HOPE students who participate in one of the organization’s three training programs, GROCERYworks, which prepares students for careers in the New York City food industry.

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“Not only are we excited to provide attendees with the opportunity to sample a mouth-watering selection of foods, but we are looking forward to sharing the transformational stories of students that HOPE has empowered, who many of these businesses also employ,” Mitchell added.

Additional food vendors include Brooklyn Seltzer Boys, Cupa Cabana, Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Indiana Market & Catering, Jimmy’s No 43, Kossar’s Bialys, Russ & Daughters, and Terri. Additional details on food partners, a full list of sponsors and details on where to purchase tickets can be found at

The HOPE Program is a work readiness training, job placement assistance and career advancement program which has empowered New Yorkers living in poverty to transform their lives for nearly 30 years. What makes HOPE unique is its outcomes-driven approach to student success and commitment to helping clients retain and advance in their jobs.  HOPE serves clients with severe barriers to success.

Nearly half of HOPE clients have conviction or substance abuse histories and more than 40% did not complete high school or a GED.  To help address these barriers, HOPE provides a wide range of services that support job placement and retention, including:  hundreds of hours of intensive work readiness training, focusing on literacy, math, computer skills, customer service, resume writing, and interview prep, among other skills; GED preparation; internship experience; mental health services; on-site daily meals; transportation stipends; and ongoing vocational counseling and support.

56% of HOPE students are currently living in Brooklyn.  Of those students, they have a 71% placement rate, and 94% of those students reach a 90-day retention mark.  The one year retention rate from Brooklyn-based graduates is 78%, which is the highest percent of all of the boroughs.

Tod Mann has been a passionate champion of The HOPE Program for the last 22 years, dedicating much of his work and retirement years to supporting the men and women who come to HOPE ready to change their lives.  Having served as the Board Chair and Treasurer, on the Development Committee, and as Chair of the Investment Committee, Tod humbly remarks that “it’s the students who are putting in the hardest work of anyone at HOPE.”  

Driven by HOPE students’ transformations, Tod has been an active volunteer, providing mock interviews, participating in employer panels, and making a point to attend nearly every HOPE event. Tod is known at HOPE for being a solid listener and advisor, and of course for the humor and joy he brings to this work. And we’d be remiss not to mention the gifts of holiday wreaths he brings to HOPE each year!

When Tod found time outside of his commitment to HOPE, he had an equally impressive professional career.  Be it during his time in the US Navy or his 30 years on Wall Street, Tod had a lasting impact. In fact, FedEx, who Tod worked with closely over 40 years ago is a event supporter tonight.

Further, Tod is widely known throughout the Brooklyn Heights community, thanks in part to his dedicated service for nearly 40 years to two other prominent Brooklyn organizations: Packer Collegiate Institute and the Heights Casino.  Tod and his wife Gwen have two sons and four grandchildren.  They split their time between Brooklyn, Greensboro, VT and Washington State as they continue to make an impact in their local community, while enjoying time with their friends, family and, of course, grandchildren.  


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