Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Southampton Fresh Air Home

8/31/05 - Weekends in the country, if it’s the Hamptons, they don’t sit still. If it isn’t “tennis anyone?” or golf, or planning that night’s party, or going around picking up the latest news on the latest ohmigod scandal, they’re shopping. And not dropping. And driving of course.

Early last month on a Saturday, however, there were some intrepid and audacious and clever souls who got together for the 13th annual Southampton Fresh Air Home Decorators-Designers-Dealers (D-D-D) Sale, Auction and Cocktail Party Benefit Preview Party. A kick-off they call it in the fast-track fund-raising business. Something for everyone.

Kirsten Galef and Leila Heller
These were the players, the put-yer-money-where-yer-mouth-is-ers: Kirsten Solsvig Galef, who was Chairman; Anne Keating, Heather Leeds and Lavinia Snyder, who were Auction Chairmen; Mimi Lenihan, Design and Decoration Chairman; Emily Chien Mahoney, Wine Auction Chairman; Debbie Bedrossian, Design and Decoration Chairman; Elizabeth Fekkai, Alice Michaels and Sarah Senbahar, who were the Auction Vice Chairs and John Block, who once again served as auctioneer. Are you keeping up with this? So many bold-faced names, so much to do. Remember these are their Saturdays and Sundays they’re giving up ... for the kids.

Members of the Board of Directors who attended included Pamela Michaelcheck, chairman; Cathy di Montezemolo, president, along with board members Mildred Brinn; Claire Mulholland, Ann Grimm, Mimi Lenihan, Peri Bogert, and other committee members including Charlotte Assaf, Hilary Block, Laura Codman, Lyn Mortimer, Linda Munn, Chris Munn, not to mention some prominent guests such as Nikki Amey, Vittorio Assaf, Beth Rudin DeWoody, James Mulholland, Izak Senbahar, Brian Snyder, Donald Zilkha – already they’d got something going for the charity.

The Charity – The Southampton Fresh Air Home
and their 2005 Camper Season. There was the 5 pm sale and cocktail party for preview patrons. They paid extra for the privilege of first dibs – anywhere from $200 for two to $2500 for six. Then at 6:45 there was the live auction. And at 8:30 it was over – everyone could go home or go out to dinner, or, as they do in the Hamptons every Saturday night, go someplace (or someplaces) else. Sunday, the Furniture Sale continued from ten in the morning until two in the afternoon.

And why? Because of the kids. For more than a century, there have been enterprising, helpful, volunteering souls who’ve done their best to keep the Southampton Fresh Air Home running. It’s not just any Fresh Air Home (which would be good enough for anyone’s generosity) but a specialized recreation program for physically challenged youths from the tri-state area who can attend without regard for their ability to pay.
Roger and Irinia Erickson
Brian and Ophelia Snyder
Alois Schoenhuber and Peter Daub
Elizabeth Fekkai, Heather Leeds, and Pamela Michaelcheck
Claire Mulholland, Galen and Lorie Knickel, and James Mulholland
Beth Rudin DeWoody and Frederick Anderson
Sheila Fuch and Michele Gradin
Arnie and Paola Rosenshein
Two wonderful things happen there: the children and young people get to have a camp life, be among their peers and contemporaries, be free of the restraints of being homebound, or the daily routine that all of us children need to be free of; and their parents also get something that every parent, any parent needs: a respite, no matter how brief.

This all started, now more than hundred years ago because of someone’s kind and generous notion for helping make life a little easier for those whose lives are never easy or easier. In the early days, the volunteers raised funds through Rummage Sales – remember Rummage sales? Can you imagine what some of today’s collectors would have found at Rummage Sales back in the days when there was no such thing as “collectibles” and everyone threw everything out that didn’t have a value determined by an auction house or an art dealer?

Heather Leeds, Sarah Senbahar, Anne Keating, and Debbie Bedrossian
Anyway those Rummage Sales and follow up “gifts,” (read: cash) from donors brought out the best in people. Some of the now historically illustrious names of old Southampton participated – such as Mrs. John Randolph Hearst, Mrs. David Granger, Mrs. Henry A. Barclay, Mrs. George L. Bartlett, Mrs. Goodhue Livingston, Mrs. Marshall J. Dodge, Jr., Mrs. Robert Magowan and many other summer residents of the days of yore. And they did it simply because they loved the Southampton Fresh Air Home Campers.

Most of the Southampton Fresh Air Home campers (there are usually about 150 attending) receive scholarships to enjoy this unique and caring summer camping experience where they get to laugh and make friends. So we can say thanks to all those Hamptonites who go out to the East End and like the good New Yorkers they are, go-go-go and in many cases, spend-spend-spend, so that all those noble volunteers from the SFAH can raise the funds to keep these fabulous kids progressing, moving, living and maybe with some laughter. Bravo to all who participated.