Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Good standing

After school on Fifth Avenue. 4:00PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015. Lovely Autumn weather getting cooler at night but in the 60s by day.

Special Notice. Today at 3 p.m. Bette Midler, Founder of the New York Restoration Project, will join New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver to “flip the switch,” lighting the Empire State Building in green to celebrate the New York Restoration Project and New York City completing their MillionTreesNYC initiative. The program which began eight years ago in 2007 has resulted in 1,000,000 trees planted across New York City neighborhoods.

MillionTreesNYC, a cornerstone of New York City’s vision to establish a healthier, more sustainable city, is a public-private partnership between New York City Parks and Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project. Through this association, more than 600,000 trees were planted on parkland and on streets by New York City Parks with the help of nearly 50,000 volunteers. The NYRP also planted 100,000 trees on other public lands including schools and NYCHA properties, and private businesses, homeowners, and developers pitched in to plant another 300,000 trees on private property throughout the City.  

MillionTreesNYC Parks is also reforesting hundreds of acres of parkland into new, ecologically healthy, multi-story forests. New forests help expand canopy cover in New York City, increasing the myriad environmental benefits already provided by our urban forest to all New Yorkers.

Monday morning at the St. Regis Roof  there was the American Cancer Society’s 20th Anniversary Mothers of the Year Awards Luncheon. Morning; well, quarter to noon. That’s still morning for me. Reminds me of when I was a kid on Saturday mornings and my mother would say reproaching: aren’t you ever going to get out of bed?  Immediate response (not spoken) No!

I like this event for what it stands for. It’s a great and wonderful cause, and cancer has affected everyone’s life in one way or another. The event is basically a ladies charity luncheon. They’re wonderful but I could live without going to another since I’ve probably been to hundreds over the years. I admire and support all the good works that I’m exposed to.  And it’s a pleasure to be able to spread the word as much as possible.  But twenty years later? Couldn’t I just stay home ma, and phone it in? I could do that you know, and get it right.
Jamie Harpel, Sue Bloomberg, and Richard and Diana Feldman.
Ma says no, you gotta go. I’ve been through this rap before in my life. More times than you can imagine. And on a Monday morning after a late work night ... it’s rapping in my head.

However, as much as I have always found this luncheon to be an easy pleasure and sometimes amusing (and something to write about), Diana is the one. I basically go for her. She gives a speech at the beginning of each luncheon. I’m not sure what her job is – she’s a total volunteer, but it has something to do with organizing these events. And she’s a good friend, and a good person. In her speech, she always talks about cancer and taking the lives from her life. We all get it whether we’ve experienced or not; we all get it.
Rosanna Scotto, Paula Zahn, Marion Scotto, Elaina Scotto, Greg Kelly, Jenna Ruggiero, and Julia Faucetta.
Diana’s mother died of cancer a little more than 20 years ago. And Diana revered and loved her mother. The grief was very difficult to move on from. Finally, Mrs. Henri Bendel, who was a close friend of Diana’s mother, advised her to “do something about it” rather than just mourn. And so she went to an American Cancer Society’s meeting and got started. Twenty years later they were recognizing her work and devotion at this luncheon.

Diana has a very cheerful demeanor with other people. She smiles a lot and laughs a lot too. It’s a lightness that attracts but also the exterior of a very serious side. She had a good mother.
Mariana Kaufman and Topsy Taylor. Eva Mohr and Rikki Klieman.
This year’s luncheon had a lot of honorees and they must have sold out the place as the ballroom was entirely filled with tables of ten. They honored Marion, Rosanna and Elaina Scotto. The sisters were presented with their award by two daughters, Julia Faucetta and Jenna Ruggiero, and joined by Greg Kelly who works everyday on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” in the morning with Rosanna. Kelly talks about his partner on the show. He’s very funny (anyway) and his words about Rosanna are dear, heartfelt and like family.  Then after Rosanna and her sisters come up, they talk about Mama, Marion Scotto, “known affectionately as Mom.”

Marion lives in New York City with her husband and has 8 grandchildren. She also runs the front-of-the-house duties in the family restaurant Fresco. Zagat Survey has voted her as one of the Most Gracious Hostesses. She comes up on stage. You get right away why she’s one of the Most Gracious. You get that because of the way her daughters and granddaughters talked about her. A Saint, yes. A know-it-all mother, yes. Caring, yes. The boss who’s always right, yes. You can tell by everyone’s reaction that this mother was a powerful leader who created a family of women who are powerful leaders or potentially.
Nancy Sambuco. Martha Kramer and Jim Mitchell.
This is what the Mother of the Year luncheon is always about. I don’t forget it when I’m whining with myself about the obligation of attending because I know it’s value. I had a mother who had all kinds of qualities and characteristics, many or several of which I could criticize; however, the boy’s still here because of that mother.

After Marion Scotto’s family was honored they called on the family of the next honoree, Dr. Susan R. Drossman, an interventional breast radiologist in private practice in New York City. Dr. Drossman was introduced by her son, her daughter and her husband  Adam Sokoloff.

I’d never heard of this doctor although I soon realized that in a room full of hundreds of New York women, she is not only known but important. Her husband and children (both of whom are in their mid to late teens) spoke of a wife and a mother who is always there to the point where she has something to say about  (questioning) their choices of the way they look when they leave the house. In fact, her husband, her family and her friend's description is one of a woman of tremendous energy, wisdom and capability. One person mentioned how accessible she was to her patients when one patient called her about her mammogram, the doctor took the call with the words to her patient: “Everything came out negative and I’m in the shoe department at Bergdorf Goodman ...” Good-bye.
Gabe Sokoloff, Dr. Susan Drossman, Julia Sokoloff, and Adam Sokoloff.
Then Dr. Drossman took the podium to thank the room and her family. This is the thing about Mother of the Year for the American Cancer Society: these women are serious about their lives, including motherhood. They understand that they make a difference and part of that difference is comfort and part of that difference is the understanding of responsibility we have to each other. They make it clear by demonstrating it. Diana Feldman does that with the American Cancer Society and she demonstrates that to her friends.  It’s all an affirmation of life. With everything else going on in this insane world of ours, it is a comfort, no matter how fleeting, of what is possible when the women of valor – which is what the quality is – exercise their sense of responsibility to their family and their fellow man.

Paula Zahn was the emcee of the luncheon, as she has been for as long as I can recall.  Paula is a pro. She grew up in a family in the Midwest, father worked for IBM, where cancer took the lives of both parents. They left her, however, with that common sense of responsibility and it is evident even in her work. As emcee, she is both informed, empathic and a professional at moving the occasion along. It was a great day, and I felt fortunate to have been there to witness it, and the re-confirmation that there are strong, stable, powerful people (women in this case) among us working for a better world.
Jamie Harpel, Paula Zahn, Diana Feldman, Anthony Harpel, Richard Feldman, Cissie Levy, and Lisa Harpel.
Monday night John and Joan Jakobson gave a book party for their friend Joan Kingsley and her new book “The Fear-Free Organization; Vital Insights from Neursocience to Transform Your Business Culture” which she wrote with Paul Brown and Sue Paterson. Joan and I met in 1967 when we were actors in summer stock together in Lake Placid, New York.

Joan, who grew up on Long Island, is a longtime resident of London where she has been married for more than 30 years to Philip Kingsley, the great hair doctor of the world whom I’ve written about on these pages before, and is famous especially among the famous (men and women) of the world for his wisdom and ability for preserving the hair on your head. No small matter as anyone past puberty knows. Joan and Philip are parents to two daughters. Joan is a practicing psychotherapist – from which this book came. I read it, initially uninterested (since I don’t work in an organization) and was surprised to learn that it was actually applicable to myself, as an individual, and my relationship to my work and my world. All good. Try it; you’ll see.
Joan Kingsley with her book. Joan and Philip Kingsley.

Contact DPC here.