KHCC Remembers Bernice Stern, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
My memory of Bernice Stern is when I first started with KHCC and I was asked to work the Gala in 2015. At that time the Gala was being held at The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. I extended my hand to her and she said to me "your hands are so warm, you must have a warm heart". Even though that was my very first time meeting her it was a pleasant greeting. When participants come to see their therapist at Stern House, I love to tell the story why it's called the Stern House because she donated the house to us, to KHCC. I was sad to hear of the loss of Ms. Stern.
Mrs. Stern investment in KHCC helped launch our Changing Futures Program, which provides long-term therapy to survivors of trauma including child sexual abuse, domestic violence and campus assault. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have expanded their services to mental health trauma support as well as grief counseling. The team was inspired by her and moved by her passing that they created a tribute to her.
Watch our Changing Futures program's tribute.
In celebration of Ms. Stern’s influence over 34 years at KHCC and in the community, its Board of Directors established the Bernice Stern Award for Outstanding Community Service in her name to identify and recognize other women who have exhibited the same spirit, generosity and community service as Mrs. Stern has throughout her life. Honorees included Justine Koons, artist, philanthropist and co-founder of The Koons Family Institute on International Law & Policy at the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children; Sunny Hostin, attorney, journalist and television host; Monique Hoeflinger, Author, Move to End Violence and program officer, Ms. Foundation.
With her generous support through the Milton & Bernice Stern Foundation, KHCC grew from a small neighborhood center to a thriving settlement house serving thousands of residents throughout the Bronx each year.
KHCC remembers and thanks Mrs. Stern and her generous family who have supported our critical work in the Bronx over several decades.
Bernice Altman Stern was born in New York in 1916. She married Milton Stern in 1936 and after raising their four children she pursued a career in the cosmetic industry. In 1970, she founded and was president of Eve of Roma Cosmetics USA. In 1976, she joined her husband at Parfums Stern, the manufacturer and distributor of Oscar de la Renta, Perry Ellis and Valentino fragrance products.
After selling the business in 1987, Mrs. Stern became deeply involved in philanthropy. She is a major supporter of the Stern Center for Language and Learning in Williston, VT, which is dedicated to learning for all. At the Center, more than 900 children are taught and evaluated for learning disabilities, dyslexia, language disorders, autism, attention deficit disorders, and learning style differences. The Center designs and delivers programs for more than 1,500 educators each year. Research-based information about early literacy, oral language, ready, written language, social thinking, executive functioning and math is presented through workshops, undergraduate and graduate courses available both live and online, any symposia.
Mrs. Stern’s work with Kingsbridge Heights Community Center, Inc. (KHCC) began in 1986.
Mrs. Stern also served on the Board of Directors of Children’s Aid Society, Beth Israel Medical Center and Starfish Theaterworks.