Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lofts her new Century Award...

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lofts her new Century Award at the New York Women's Foundation breakfast to honor her and others yesterday in midtown. Credit: Getty Images

Accepting the Century Award from the New York Women's Foundation in mid-town Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid tribute to her host, her mother and to all institutions and individuals who convey "kindness and caring."

Speaking at the Marriott Marquis at the 25th anniversary of the NYWF, Clinton reprised her definition of a healthy society as being a three legged stool comprised of an accountable government, a prosperous private sector and “an active, dynamic civil society,” whose efforts of volunteerism and individual assistance are ever more important.

“Even though we are living in a world of virtual reality, nothing substitutes for personal relationships. Nothing can replace that caring from one person passed on to another and another and another,” said the former first lady.

A helping hand was critical in the life of her late mother, Dorothy Rodham, who had been abandoned as an 8-year-old, and was forced to survive on charity, recounted Clinton. She told the audience she once asked her mom, who died in November, how she had survived her Dickensian childhood without becoming embittered or defeated. “She said, ‘at critical points in my life somebody showed me kindness; somebody gave me help,’” she told the applauding crowd.

“All of us can perhaps find a moment in every day when a kind word can make a difference, when a supportive pat on the shoulder can really speak volumes. Because in today’s world, which is so complex, so stressful, people need each other more than ever,” Clinton added.

The Secretary of State did not discuss her trip much-publicized trip to China, which was notable for having arranged a “student visa” for Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. But she did make a sly allusion to the photo of her sans make up that went viral earlier this week, prompting a media storm. “I’m so pleased that I got a chance to see my friend, (NYC City Council) Speaker Chris Quinn looking so sharp and fashionable. Not that I pay any attention to that, as you know,” she said. The crowd laughed.

The NYWF, which will award $5 million this year, funds NYC organizations and programs that move women and girls at or below the poverty level towards long–term economic security.

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