|Delia von Neuschatz for NYSD: The photographers were out in full force and the Plaza hotel was buzzing this past Friday afternoon with the gathering of more than 375 of New York’s most influential women – the Who’s Who of industry, media, government and the arts – for the Citymeals-on-Wheels 26th Annual “Power Lunch for Women.” Emceed by “Good Morning America” Lifestyle Anchor, Lara Spencer, this invitation-only benefit raised $1.1 million, enough to provide more than 171,000 meals for New York’s homebound frail and aged.
It wasn’t just women who were in attendance at this Power Lunch, however. Several generous, not to mention brave men were there too, having paid $10,000 apiece for the privilege of breaking bread with some of the City’s most powerful (female) movers and shakers.
|The benefit honored Paula Zahn and Randi and Dennis Riese of the Riese Organization for their longstanding and tireless dedication to Citymeals. All three honorees have “Exalted Angel” status – the highest level of giving at the charity - meaning that they provide a full year of holiday and emergency meals for 35 people.
This type of assistance was especially welcome in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy when an astonishing 64,000 meals were delivered to senior citizens who could not be evacuated. It was not unusual for volunteers to climb 10, 12, 14 stories of buildings that had lost power to reach the recipients and then, to find other seniors not on the charity’s roster weeping and begging for food. So, down again they went and up again they came loaded with meals for the beneficiaries’ neighbors. The storm succeeded in nearly emptying Citymeals’ warehouse shelves, costing it close to $500,000. Needless to say, contributions to restock its food supplies are greatly appreciated at this time.
|Funds at the luncheon were also raised by means of a live auction for a seven-course dinner party in the winner’s own home whipped up by Chef Ed Brown and also by a silent auction for items such as Bobbi Brown makeup and a private tour of Diane von Furstenberg’s Manhattan headquarters, among many other offerings.
I’d like to mention here that 100% of the money raised from ticket and auction sales at the Power Lunch – in fact, at all Citymeals events – goes to the preparation and delivery of meals. There isn’t a penny of public donations that is put towards administrative expenses.
|This year’s lunching ladies were Karen Allen, Donatella Arpaia, Christine Baranski, Cindy Barshop, Pamela Baxter, Betsy Bernardaud, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Anne Cohen, Dana Cowin, Laura Day, Michele Oka Doner, Patricia Duff, Dasha Epstein, Gael Greene, Jamee Gregory, Donna Hanover, Joan Helpern, Caroline Hirsch, Dana Ivey, Jill R. Kaplan, Suri Kasirer, Rikki Klieman, Barbara Lazaroff, Alexandra Lebenthal, Margo MacNabb Nederlander, Trish McEvoy, Karen Page, Deborah Roberts, Betty Rollin, Silda Wall Spitzer, Marcy Syms, Diana L. Taylor, Laurie Tisch, Lillian Vernon, and Patricia Wexler, among others.
The “$10K Men” at Friday’s Power Lunch included Jeffrey Bliss, Bill Bratton, Ed Brown, Joe Cohen, Mickey Drexler, Peter Ekelund, Bill Fischer, Robert Grimes, Steve Hanson, Michael Lynne, Craig Pfeiffer, John Pomerantz, John Shapiro, Bronson Van Wyck, John Zaccaro, and Steven B. Zavagli.
|In the organization’s own words, “Citymeals-on-Wheels raises private funds to ensure that no homebound elderly New Yorker will ever go a day without food or human company.” Last year, the charity helped bring more than 1.8 million nutritionally balanced meals to over 16,000 frail seniors in every borough of New York. All in all, 12,200 volunteers spent 45,000+ hours visiting and delivering meals to aged recipients who, due to broken hips, blindness and illness, among a slew of other ailments, are prisoners in their own apartments. In addition to providing meals, volunteers also deliver vital human companionship. To find out more, go to http://www.citymeals.org.|
|A group of outstanding animals and people—including a rescue dog with more than 5.5 million views on YouTube and a 10-year-old horse advocate who has appeared before Congress were honored at this year’s ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon at the Pierre in New York City. The ceremony recognizes special animals as well as individuals who have made a significant impact on the lives of animals during the past year.
The Luncheon was sponsored by the Hartville Group, Inc., one of America’s oldest pet health insurers and provider of ASPCA Pet Health Insurance.
ASPCA Dog of the Year. Abandoned in a trash heap behind an auto body shop in South Los Angeles, Calif., Fiona, an 11-year-old poodle mix, was sick, covered in dirt, matted, infested with fleas and blind in both eyes. Fortunately, Audrey and Eldad Hagar, founders of Los Angeles-based animal rescue group Hope for Paws, came to Fiona’s aid. They cleaned and cared for her and took her to a veterinary ophthalmologist who confirmed her vision in one eye could be restored with surgery. Hope for Paws posted Fiona’s rescue video online, hoping to raise enough money for the expensive surgery.
With the help of hundreds of donors all over the world, they raised the funds for her surgery, and Fiona was soon adopted into the loving home of Michele and Chris Gentry of Los Angeles, CA and three poodle sisters.
ASPCA Cat of the Year. To most, Scooter the cat seemed yet another unfortunate case of an injured kitten who was abandoned, but thanks to a few caring individuals, he now helps others overcome their own difficulties and disabilities. Scooter was found by a dog as he lay helpless on the street with no use of his back legs, and he was rushed to Harts Run Veterinary Hospital in Fox Chapel, Pa. While many veterinarians may have given up on Scooter, Dr. Betsy Kennon decided to do all she could to save his life. Visitors to the hospital instantly fell in love with the fluffy black and white kitten, collectively donating funds to purchase him a custom-made wheeled mobility device.
|ASPCA “Tommy P. Monahan” Kid of the Year
After hearing about the inhumane and cruel practice of horse slaughter, now 10-year-old Declan Gregg of Greenland, N.H. decided to raise his voice and get involved. Declan started his own blog, Children 4 Horses, to spread the word about horse advocacy issues and worked diligently with the Million Horse March campaign to collect letters from children to inspire lawmakers to end the slaughter of American horses. Declan’s dedication to horse advocacy brought him to the nation’s capital twice in recent months, where he represented over 1,000 children from the United States and abroad by presenting the letters to legislators in Congress. In addition to his Washington visits, Declan testified at a hearing for a bill opposing horse slaughter at the New Hampshire State House in January. Declan’s blog, read by individuals in more than 80 countries, provides commentary on horse advocacy issues and also includes horse poetry, horse news, photos, Declan’s artwork and stories about other kids who have made a difference helping horses.
ASPCA Public Service Award. The three recipients of the 2012 Public Service award played pivotal roles in the investigation and raid of a large dog fighting operation in Bronx, N.Y. The investigation resulted in the removal of 50 dogs that were bred and trained to fight, as well as the arrest of Raul Sanchez, the building’s superintendent, who was charged with 63 counts of animal fighting and other related charges.
The dogs were rescued in late June by the ASPCA, at the request of the NYPD Vice Enforcement Division and Bronx District Attorney’s office, and were transferred to a temporary shelter, where they were triaged by the ASPCA’s veterinary medical team and later individually evaluated by the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. Many of the dogs have since been adopted, living their lives with loving families they deserve.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Brandler has amassed a noteworthy record of animal cruelty and animal fighting convictions since joining the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in 2007. Brandler has been integral to the evidence collection, arrest and ongoing matters of this criminal case. She is currently pursuing additional leads as to other areas in the Bronx where dog fighting may be occurring, with the hope that these will lead to more arrests and the rescue of additional dogs.
Detective Investigator John Reilly has been with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office since 2005, and routinely assists the NYPD in developing cases involving homicide, organized crime and gang activity. Reilly’s dedication to this animal cruelty case was instrumental in bringing the nearly year-long Sherman Avenue dog fighting investigation to fruition.
NYPD Detective John Zerafa of the Bronx Vice Major Case Unit has amassed over 600 arrests in his 15 years with the NYPD. Detective Zerafa’s commitment to the nearly year-long investigation, which he handled while maintaining his current caseload, is a testament to his unyielding efforts to protect New York City’s animals from cruelty.
|ASPCA Presidential Service Award for Media Excellence. Jill Rappaport has been a NBC Today correspondent for 21 years, serving as the Entertainment correspondent for the first 16. When her beloved dog Jack was diagnosed with bone cancer, she chronicled his illness on the show and realized then that animal welfare issues were her calling. She now keeps Today viewers informed about rescue, adoption and welfare with her popular, award-winning "Bow to Wow" series, where shelter dogs and cats get makeovers and a second chance at life. To date, 100 percent of the animals featured have been adopted into loving homes. Through her work she has also helped hundreds of retired racehorses that were severely abused find wonderful permanent homes.
A portion of the proceeds from her collection benefit animal-cancer research and shelters. In 2012, she also partnered with London Jewelers to launch her equestrian jewelry line, "Hannah’s Heart," named after her late, beloved mare. Proceeds benefit the ASPCA and the HSUS. Rappaport lives on a farm with her five rescue dogs and seven horses, who she calls her "fur angels."
ASPCA Henry Bergh Award. PetSmart Charities® is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to end pet homelessness by building awareness, engaging communities and creating and funding life-saving programs for pets. PetSmart Charities is the largest funder of companion animal welfare efforts in North America, and has provided more than $165 million in grants and programs benefiting animal welfare organizations. More than 5 million pets have found homes at the adoption centers located inside every PetSmart store. (PetSmart stores do not sell dogs and cats).
|Last Monday night at the newly refurbished New York City Center they held the 20 Years of Encores! A Gala Celebration starring Raul Esparza and Kelli O’Hara and featuring Sarah Uriarte Berry, Walter Bobbie, Victoria Clark, Rob Fisher, Christopher Fitzgerald, Debbie Gravitte, Joel Grey, Jared Grimes, Judy Kaye, Rebecca Luker, Rob McClure, Megan Sikora, Ryan Silverman, Daniel J. Watts with Adam Alexander, Sam Bolen Christine DiGiallonardo Daniela DiGiallonardo, Nadia DiGiallornardo, Leslie Donna Fesner, Miles Johnson, Michael Marecotete, Martin Sola, J. D Webster.
|Tyne Daley was on the bill but she was home sick in bed with a high fever. She was missed. BUT, it was a wonderful evening (90 minutes) of non-stop song and dance with some of the greatest performers on Broadway today.
They performed songs from all the revival shows that Encores! has produced in the past 20 years. Its first was “Fiorello!” by Harnick and Bock about Fiorello LaGuardia, the Mayor of New York in the 1940s. Mayor LaGuardia was almost a folk hero in his own time, and definitely thereafter. In 1943 he designated the theater, which was originally the Shriners Auditorium on 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, into the City Center Theater.
|There are still a lot of New Yorkers who don’t know about Encores! They’re missing something great. The season runs between January and April. They produce musical revivals which run for four days – Thursday through Sunday. And its chocked full of great Broadway talent.
The 2013 season which begins January 30, 2013 begins with a re-revival of “Fiorello!” followed by “It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SUPERMAN!” and Rodgers and Hart’s “On Your Toes.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the show, you’ll get why it was a hit. Check it out here.
|The evening honored Stephanie and Fred Shuman with the 2012 Fiorello H. LaGuardia Award recipients. The Shumans, who are great enthusiasts of American musical theatre, created a Fund For Encores! that supports the productions. The gala co-chairs were Patricia and Jesse Robert Lovejoy, Stacey and Eric Mindich and Robin and Frederic Seegal. Gala Vice Chairs were Bobbie and Lew Frankfort, Perry and Marty Granoff Monica and Raymond A. Lamontagne, Diane and Joseph Steinberg, Judy and Fred Wilpon, Lisa and Richard Witten. Senator Schumer was Honorary Chair. Encores! Artistic Director is Jack Viertel, with the Encores Orchestra, musical director Rob Berman; directed by Marc Bruni.|
Photographs by Stephanie Berger (City Center).