"Now I will admit coming here tonight wasn't the easiest thing for me," she said as she was honoured by the Children's Defense Fund.
She continued: "I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election. I am, too, more than I can ever express.
"I know this isn't easy. I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was.
There was little ceremony and no sign of security for the former presidential candidate who is known simply as "Hillary" in this circle of friends. The audience were on their feet and chanting her name as she took to the podium. When she talked about her disappointment, murmurs of agreement spread through the room in waves.
That murmur grew louder as she urged those listening not to lose heart - this was an emotional plea for action. The event was entitled Beat the Odds, which offers hope for some of America's most underprivileged children and celebrates their achievements.
But I spoke to one man who told me that he could offer little hope to the young African Americans he mentors in the wake of this election. Hillary Clinton used her voice tonight to try to help change that and dissuade others from feeling despondent.
The candidate may be gone, and right now "Hillary" looks like she might run home and curl back up on the sofa, but there is still a spark left in the first woman who got this far in trying to reach the White House.
"The divisions laid bare by this election run deep, but please listen to me when I say this.
"America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up."