|Delta Airlines and New Yorkers for Children hosted the 5th annual "Wrap to Rap," an afternoon of wrapping gifts for youths in foster care in New York City. While DJ Sky Mellor spun hip-hop classics, LeAnn Rimes, Damon Dash, and the NYFC Friends Committee, joined by 60 teens in foster care wrapped toys and gifts for young children in foster care. Wrapped gifts will be distributed by the administration for Children’s Services to children in foster care throughout New York City.
Activities at the event included a raffle of just released Microsoft Zune portable digital media players emceed by Damon Dash, a dessert decorating station presented by Dylan’s Candy Bar, and karaoke hosted by Spotlight Live. Biscuits and hot cocoa were provided by Godiva Chocolatier. Generous contributors included Commonwealth Packaging Company, Scotch 3M, Random House, Mattel, Land’s End, Philosophy, and Scholastic.
|A Golden Retriever performed the Heimlich maneuver; a cat saved her owners from carbon monoxide poisoning; a young girl protects horses from slaughter; a firefighter rescues pets from burning buildings; a Southern deputy investigates animal cruelty; a baseball manager establishes a non-profit for companion animals; and a Pennsylvanian takes on homeless pets and puppy mills -- these seven animals and people were honored for their heroic deeds at this year’s ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon two weeks ago at the Rainbow Room.
It recognized individuals who have worked on behalf of animal welfare as well as animals who have engaged in acts of heroism during the past year. A special Presidential Award was also presented to WNBC-TV Anchor Chuck Scarborough, an ASPCA supporter and philanthropist who also served as the event's master of ceremonies. Mr. Scarborough and his wife Ellen are stalwarts in the community of people who work for animal rights, rescue and welfare.
The 2007 ASPCA Humane Award winners:
ASPCA Cat of the Year
Amazing: On the night of March 24, 2007, Winnie, a 14-year-old domestic shorthair cat, dozed dreamily by an open window in her family’s house in New Castle, Ind. While Winnie and her family slept, poisonous carbon monoxide fumes from a gasoline-powered water pump filled the family’s basement. Sensing all was not right, Winnie moved from her cozy window seat to the bed of Cathy and Michael Keesling. She nudged Cathy’s ear and meowed wildly to wake her. Cathy eventually sat up, realizing she was nauseous, dizzy, and disoriented. Unable to wake her husband, she quickly dialed 9-1-1. Paramedics arrived in a flash and discovered the Keeslings’ 14-year-old son, Michael, unconscious on the floor of his bedroom. All three family members were removed from the home with oxygen masks and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. They all soon recovered, thanks to Winnie's heroic efforts.
Cathy Keesling originally found Winnie, days old, motherless and abandoned at a neighboring farm. In Winnie’s first days, Cathy and Eric nursed her with milk from an eyedropper. They saved her life, and years later, she saved theirs.
|ASPCA Dog of the Year
Another: One seemingly ordinary afternoon in suburban Maryland, a jewelry designer named Debbie Parkhurst was enjoying a ripe apple snack in the company of her beloved, two-year-old Golden Retriever, Toby. Debbie took one innocuous bite after another, but soon flinched when she realized a piece of apple was lodged in her throat. She choked and gasped, beating her chest in a vain effort to dislodge the fruit. Toby, alarmed by Debbie’s distress, pushed her to the ground and jumped up and down on her chest until the offending apple came up. Debbie is convinced she owes her life to Toby, whom she rescued from a grim fate in a dumpster in 2005. These days, Toby enjoys life with Debbie and her husband, Kevin, and he is inseparable from his canine sidekick, a Bassett Hound named Fred.
ASPCA Kid of the Year
Since its founding in 2005, Amaryllis Farm Rescue has rescued more than 50 horses and ponies from slaughter. This is due in large part to the courageous efforts and hard work of one little girl, 12-year-old Rachel Distefano.
Rachel and her mother, Christine Barrett-Distefano, co-founded Amaryllis, where Rachel works long hours at her mother’s side seven days a week during the summer, and before and after school during the year. Rachel’s chores include feeding, brushing, and bathing the horses, feeding the chickens, and tending to the needs of a working farm. Every year the Distefanos rescue horses destined for slaughterhouses across the country, and work to find them permanent, loving homes on ranches and farms.
Rachel is a sixth-grader at Stella Maris Regional Catholic School and lives in Southampton, N.Y. She has a deep love for animals and one day hopes to become a caretaker and spokesperson for cheetahs. At a tender age, she truly understands the responsibility of caring for all living things, and even says “good night” to the chickens at Amaryllis before she turns in. By giving her heart and soul to horses and the needs of animals, she is truly a role model for her fellow classmates in New York and across the country.
ASPCA Firefighter of the Year
On June 24, 2007, New York City Firefighter William H. Smith III of Ladder 58 emerged from the flames and impenetrable smoke of an apartment fire at 230 East 196th Street. In one arm, he carried a frightened, small, mixed-breed dog and, in the other, a soot-covered cat. Firefighter Smith’s incomparable act, saving the lives of two helpless animals, speaks to his seriousness of purpose and commitment to preserving and protecting the people and pets of New York City.
A senior firefighter, Smith joined Ladder 58 in 1982. In June 2007, he received the Edith B. Goldman Medal for his incomparable bravery during a house fire in the Bronx on May 21, 2006. Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the award during the 138th annual Fire Medal Day ceremony at City Hall, one of 10 occasions during which he has been recognized for heroism during his career. Firefighter Smith lives in the Bronx with his son William IV. His eldest son, Lamar, is a Sergeant in the Marine Corps and currently stationed in Japan. Affable and well-respected by his colleagues, Firefighter Smith is a true gentleman and a genuine hero.
ASPCA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
Just one day after Champ, a five-year old Palomino, was shot in his pasture in Palmerdale, Ala., Deputy Dwight Sloan, Animal Cruelty Investigator for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, launched a full-scale investigation of the crime. Deputy Sloan solicited the help of an evidence team, veterinarians and county workers to investigate the crime. He also helped raise more than $10,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Champ’s killer. Deputy Sloan’s hard work and dedication led to the confession and arrest of the teenager that delivered the fatal bullets.
Deputy Sloan is the lone animal cruelty investigator in Jefferson County, one of Alabama’s largest counties. Recently, with the cooperation of the Jefferson County Commission, the Sheriff’s office and the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, Deputy Sloan spearheaded the future construction of a rescue and rehabilitation barn for hoof stock and equine. It is the first shelter of its kind in Alabama, and the first time a state government agency has collaborated with a private nonprofit to make a facility a reality. Despite these “firsts,” the low-key deputy remains humble and tirelessly dedicated to making the world a better place for animals in need.
ASPCA Henry Bergh Award
In 1991, during a particularly competitive game between the Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees, an orphaned cat darted on the field during play. The A’s then-manager, Tony La Russa, hurried out onto the diamond to rescue the kitten from trampling and taunts. Soon after, La Russa and his wife Elaine co-founded the Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), which is committed to the well-being of companion animals. Through its many outreach programs in Northern California, ARF strives to educate the public about the human-animal bond, pet overpopulation and homelessness.
Born in Tampa, Fla., Tony La Russa received his J. D. from Florida State University in 1978 and is currently a member of the Florida State Bar. Prior to taking the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996, he spent 17 years managing the Oakland A’s and the Chicago White Sox. During the off season, La Russa lives in Alamo, Calif., with his wife, their two daughters, Bianca and Devon, and many rescued animals.
ASPCA Lifetime Achievement Award
Two years ago, Bill Smith watched helplessly as a young dog bred in one of Lancaster County's most notorious puppy mills died from a congenital disease caused by inbreeding. The incident spurred Smith into action, who started a billboard campaign aimed against commercial breeders to help educate the public about puppy mills and to push the Pennsylvania state government to enforce kennel laws. Using creative images, such as a Beagle sitting in a dishwasher, Mr. Smith’s visual campaign has helped pressure public officials into addressing this urgent issue.
Bill Smith is no stranger to animal welfare. In 1997, he opened Mainline Animal Rescue (MLAR), a private, non-profit organization in Chester Springs, Pa. Since its inception, MLAR has rescued and re-homed thousands of animals facing euthanasia in overcrowded shelters in more than 20 states. MLAR has also placed thousands of strays, dogs and cats with special medical needs, aged animals, and pets surrendered by families no longer able or willing to care for them. Boasting one of the country's highest placement rates, Smith's organization finds homes for 99 percent of all of the animals it accepts.
|ASPCA Presidential Award
A long-time friend and supporter of the ASPCA, Chuck Scarborough is an award-winning anchor at WNBC-TV Channel 4 in New York City, where he anchors his all-new 7 PM and 11 PM weeknight newscasts. Chuck has been with Channel 4 for over three decades—a remarkable tenure during which he has won 30 Emmy Awards. He was elected to the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame and, most importantly, gained the trust and faith of the millions of New Yorkers who get their news from him every night.
In addition to his popularity on television, Chuck is an active community member, and his commitment is not limited to the ASPCA. He serves on the board of the Silver Shield Foundation, and is an honorary member of the New York Division of the National Society to Prevent Blindness.
Chuck and his wife Ellen are devoted animal lovers and are passionate about making pet adoption their first option. Their cat Stanley and their dog Oliver were both adopted from the City’s Animal Care and Control.
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first humane organization established in the Americas, and today has one million supporters. A 501 [c]  not-for-profit corporation, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA provides local and national leadership in animal-assisted therapy, animal behavior, animal poison control, anti-cruelty, humane education, legislative services, and shelter outreach. The New York City headquarters houses a full-service, accredited animal hospital, adoption center, and mobile clinic outreach program. The Humane Law Enforcement department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the reality television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet.
For more information, please visit www.aspca.org.
|It’s the people who give the largest donations who tend to be honored. And nobody’s arguing with that, least of all the professional fund-raisers who labor in the wings to bring generous donors into the limelight.
But, once a year, on National Philanthropy Day, the 900-member strong Greater New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) honors those who have changed society through contributions that can’t be measured in dollars alone.
This year, the 10th annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon, on Tuesday, a week ago at The Rainbow Room honored more than twenty of these ordinary Americans/exceptional philanthropists.
Lesley Stahl of CBS News/60 Minutes interviewed John C. Whitehead, a former investment banker and national leader who is perhaps best known as the Founding Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), as a highlight of the day’s program.
“I don’t think that any other city in the country can boast quite the concentration of inspired volunteerism as can New York City,” says Mr. Whitehead. “From young professionals who ladle soup in kitchens to corporate leaders whose gifts underwrite the shelters that house those kitchens…this is a city rich in creative and caring people.”
Marty Kunkis, Joseph H. Brodoff and Bob Weinmann, a trio of extraordinary New Yorkers, are examples of the volunteers who were honored at the luncheon. Early on in volunteering for Spence-Chapin Services, which finds homes for infants and young children, Marty pounded pavements and negotiated leases with unsympathetic landlords to find retail space on the Upper East Side for a thrift shop to benefit the non-profit organization. But that was only the beginning, and since then Marty has been active in many ways, including, most recently, undertaking the Herculean task of finding space and negotiating the lease for Spence-Chapin’s new headquarters.
|Joseph Brodoff is a life-long New Yorker who spent decades as a top salesman in the intimate apparel industry. After his devoted wife of 43 years succumbed to cancer, Joe created Marilyn’s Place, a pair of warmly furnished rooms at Beth Israel Medical Center and Roosevelt Hospital, where cancer patients can rest during their treatments and research their disease.
Last year, the Food Bank for New York City distributed more than 60 million pounds of food to city residents at risk of going hungry. Bob Weinmann of Monmouth County, New Jersey, played a big role in that success. With 35 years of experience in the packaged goods and supermarket retailing industries — the last 25 dedicated to expanding the breadth and quality of food brokerage — Bob has invested all this know-how in the Food Bank and in such other worthy programs as “Check-Out Hunger,” a fundraising and awareness-building campaign among New York area supermarket chains, and American’s Second Harvest “Shop to End Hunger”.
Among the other New Yorkers honored on were: Patricia Diaz Dennis, by the Girl Scouts of the USA; Anne Marie Agnelli, by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which helps young people from low-income communities build career skills; Concetta Conklin, by the American Foundation for the Blind, an organization that works to expand possibilities for people with vision loss; Valerie Goldfein, by Mount Sinai Medical Center; Joel Marcus, by New York University Child Study Center, a child and adolescent mental health treatment and study facility; Stanley and Rita Kaplan, by New York University Medical Center, Helen Marie Rodgers, by High Water Women Foundation, an organization that connects senior women in the finance industry to volunteerism and philanthropic opportunities; and BET Networks, by the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC).
To learn more please visit: www.afpnyc.afpnet.org
| A Magical Evening , the gala to benefit the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation took place a week ago at The Marriott Marquis in New York City, the Monday before last. They raised $1.9 million.
Meryl Streep was the recipient of the Dana Reeve HOPE Award, Lee and Bob Woodruff were the recipients of the Christopher Reeve Spirit of Courage Award and Henry G. Stifel, founding member of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation was the recipient of the Visionary Leadership Award. Through the funding of innovative research, grants, information and advocacy, the foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury as well as improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis.
The evening’s menu was designed by David Burke of davidburke & donatella. There was a special performance by the John Pizzarelli Trio as well as from members of the casts of Broadway’s Grease and Legally Blonde.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to curing spinal cord injury through the funding of innovative research and improving the quality of life for those living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.
The organization was founded in 1982 as the American Paralysis Association by a group with the firm belief that through research and neuroscience, spinal cord injuries could be repaired and damaged nerves and cells could be regenerated. Following his injury in 1995, Christopher Reeve became passionately involved with the organization, which is now known as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
|Photographs by ©PatrickMcMullan.com (Reeve).|