Giving Back


Trends come and go: in a few months’ time, spring’s obsession with punk will give way to fall’s latest fad. Yet, if there’s one thing that will never go out of style, it’s a good cause. Earlier this month, Community of Unity, a NYC-based organization that fosters mentoring programs among local students and schools, held its annual spring fundraiser. This year, Community of Unity invited the top New York model agencies to face-off in a bowling tournament for charity. For a little insight into the event, we spoke with Michelle Priano, one of the charity’s board members. Michelle, who by day works at Victoria’s Secret’s corporate offices, has been an avid supporter of the organization since joining Community of Unity 2 years ago. (text by Matt Myer)

All images by Melodie Jeng for The unforgettable Jenny Shimizu, now an agent at Elite, shows us her top bowling form.

Who came up with the idea for the event? How many attendees were there for the event?

Community of Unity has an annual fundraiser in the fall every year that Christiana Tran at Elite Models attended. After the event she reached out to support the organization in other ways. We do a smaller bowling event every spring and she thought it would be great to have the agencies bowl against each other. Immediately I agreed. What a great idea to show the kids an industry you don’t always learn about at school and see a group of people who normally compete at work, competing in a healthy way. About 150 agents came out for the event.

What drew you into working with this charity, and what has been especially rewarding?

I was actually drawn in by the founder’s, Eric Komoroff, passion for the work he was doing. I met him at a time where I wanted more in life than what I had. It has been especially rewarding to see the progress and outreach that CofU has made with the youth in NYC supporting them all the way through their college acceptance, which I might add, has been so successful.

We find that people who work in the fashion industry, so many times written off as “superficial” by the public, are some of the most tireless supporters of charities. Why do you feel that is so, the “giving back to society”?

I think that people in the fashion industry realize how fortunate they and are grateful. They are given opportunities to travel around the world and see others aren’t as fortunate. Therefore they choose to share in their successes and give back.

If you had to describe in several sentences the mission of the charity, what would it be?

Community of Unity empowers young people to find success in life by awakening in them a sense of their unique purpose and potential. We work with at-risk youth across NYC through a variety of in-school and out of school programming which all center around the idea that each person, young or otherwise, has what we call a “SONG” that only they can play. We help students practice what we call “INSTRUMENTS”; self-esteem, integrity, responsibility, focus, self-awareness, empathy towards others and humor–so that they may learn to play their song and share it with the world.

Check out their FB page, and website

Michelle Harper bowls in heels!

The Lions

Trump Management

Marilyn Model Mgmt

Allen Rodriguez and founder of Community of Unity Eric Komoroff.

Next Models NY

From Ford Models

New York Model Management

Wilhelmina New York


The Society Management

Elite New York City

Team Community of Unity

The coveted prize

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