Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Forging an Alliance

Fifth Avenue. 10:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017.  Grey day with rain predicted which came mid-afternoon along with much cooler temperatures which got colder as the rain got heavier into the evening right up until the midnight hour.

I started out the day with a luncheon appointment with Mary Jeffery, who is president of the Breast Cancer Alliance in Greenwich, along with Yonni Wattenmaker who is  the BCA’s director, and Christine Biddle, the public relations executive who introduced me to the amazing organization.

Organizations raising funds for breast cancer, be it research or care, are not uncommon in the United States. BCA focuses on the earliest part of the research -- providing seed money in new research projects. Their funding is directed by a panel of doctors including those who have been actively involved in all aspects of breast cancer including the research. 
DPC with Mary Jeffery and Yonni Wattenmaker at Michael's.
Two weeks ago (October 26th) in Greenwich, the BCA had their 22nd annual luncheon and fashion show (Oscar de la Renta) at the Hyatt Regency.  More than 1000 attended. Richards of Greenwich, longtime sponsor of the luncheon, produced the Oscar show with the new collection. “Rise, Fight, Inspire” was the theme.

Professional models were preceded down the catwalk by thirteen brave and beautiful women who have had, or are living with, breast cancer. When the show was over the entire room rose to their feet in tears and with cheers. It was an inspiring and emotional celebration.

The Alliance was started by five women at the suggestion of one of them who in fact died of breast cancer. Her suggestion was “get the community involved” with what is ultimately a community problem.
Survivor Models at Breast Cancer Alliance's 22nd annual luncheon and fashion show in Greenwich.
BCA’s president, Mary Jeffery noted that 2017 will see 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer. She expressed her pride in BCA’s ability to provide scientific venture capital that allows young investigators to carry on innovative research, without which, a cure will not be found. BCA’s Executive Director Yonni Wattenmaker told me yesterday at lunch that while the number of diagnoses are increasing, the number survivors is increasing too.

What they’ve learned with Breast Cancer Alliance is that it is now a community effort. Yonni and an assistant are the only two paid individuals in the entire organization. Everything else, projects, events, mailings, planning is carried out by their devoted volunteers. Community again, moving things forward.

Twenty-two years later BCA is one of the largest private, non-corporate breast cancer organizations in the country. Of those 1000 or more guests at the 22nd luncheon, many are those aforementioned, actively involved, volunteering regularly, carrying out the variety of events staged for awareness and fund-raising.
Co-Chair Gretchen Bylow, Co-Chair Hillary Corbin, Co-Chair Jordan Rhodes, Amy Robach, Yonni Wattenmaker, and Mary Jeffery.
Their work in Greenwich has inspired others in communities to organize similarly. Yonni has been involved in guiding more regional BCA’s such as Seattle, Washington, and Washington D.C. The more involvement of other communities not only encourages greater public interest, donations and other kinds of support, but provides a greater possibility of detecting it earlier and curing it more quickly.

Since its inception the Greenwich Breast Cancer Alliance has awarded more than $22 million in grants, supporting its mission to improve survival rates and quality of life for those impacted by breast cancer through better prevention, early detection, treatment and cure.

The Alliance invests its grants in innovative research, breast surgery fellowships, regional education, dignified support, and screening for the underserved. It has funded cutting-edge research and one-year postgraduate breast surgery fellowships at more than 25 of the nation’s leading research institutions.
Getting on the Q, heading for Michael's (57th Street stop, W. 55th exit) this guy brought a five-dozen bouquet to brighten up someone's day for a moment.
Later in the day as the rains were falling and the temperatures and the end-of-the-day traffic was jamming, over at the Metropolitan Club, supporters were gathering for the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC) 2017 Food & Wine Gala.

The NYSPCC was founded in 1875 by a New York lawyer and businessman Elbridge Gerry. Mr. Gerry at the time lived in a mansion on the corner of 60th and Fifth where the Pierre stands today, and across the street from the Metropolitan Club. The past two events of the NYSPCC coincidentally have been held in those two locations. I wonder if Mr. Gerry’s spirit is still in our midst. Just a fanciful thought but one to affirm another event that involves the community and its heart.

NYSPCC founder Commodore Elbridge Gerry.
The NYSPCC is there to help the most vulnerable — the children in our community — to deal with their recovering from the trauma of their experiences in their families. The organization also helps prevent child abuse through working with parents, teachers and foster care. Child abuse is a kind of social cancer that afflicts its victims throughout their life.

They have programs to help child victims to handle it successfully and avoid its recurring generationally, as it often does. We live in a world where the word “abuse” is mainly ignored or taken without care, as if its dreamed up by some would-be victim. What it really is, is a crime against humanity.

Last night’s fund-raiser proceeds support the NYSPCC’s Trauma Recovery Program which offers a specialized thereapeutic program for children ages 5 through 18 who have experienced physical or sexual abuse, neglect, traumatic bereavement, or who have witnessed family violence.

Meanwhile, at the Metropolitan Club last night, the annual event of Food & Wine began at 6:30 with cocktails and a wine tasting. At  7:30 guests moved into dinner with a menu curated by Chef Michael Ferraro,  Executive Chef/Partner of Delicatessen and MacBar. Then for the pleasure of the guests, Deborah Norville, an NYSPCC Children’s Council Member, had a fascinating conversation with Nina and Tim Zagat, the husband and wife team who are co-founders and co-Chairs of Zagat which is a New York synonym for dining out in New York.
Deborah Norville, Chef Michael Ferraro, and Nina and Tim Zagat.
Keeping the community fresh. A week ago today, REACH Prep, the Stamford-based non-profit organization hosted its inaugural New York City fall fundraiser, An Evening in the Park at Bryant Park Grill. The sold-out event -- which raised $250,000 – with which REACH provides access to transformative educational experiences that empower underserved, high-achieving students to graduate from top colleges.

The evening featured a special performance by the Baker's Dozen of Yale University, and a festive, seasonal menu of fine food and cocktails, and also a dynamic live auction offering one-of-a-kind experiences and hosted by Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s. 
Patrick, REACH Prep Scholar, Carolyn Saunders, and Gina Lucas, CEO of REACH Prep
All proceeds from the evening go directly to support programming for Scholars which includes a 15-month Prep Academy program, individualized middle school and high school support, as well as college guidance. 

REACH Prep helps motivated and talented Black and Latino students from underserved communities in Fairfield and Westchester Counties and the Bronx to gain admission to and thrive in rigorous independent schools.

Upon placement, students benefit from a 12-year educational continuum, including comprehensive academic enrichment, leadership training and supplementary individual and family guidance, all of which prepares them to succeed at, and graduate from, competitive colleges. REACH Prep's model of access to high-quality education along with sustained, comprehensive and long-term support achieves college success rates that defy trends and national statistics.
Jennifer Lugo, Joshua Terry, REACH Prep's Alumni Speaker, Event Co-Chair Lisa-Claire Triggiani, Keith Grossman, Suzanne Cabot, and Jim Cabot.
Event Co-Chair Mark and Trish Davies, with Ed Vittoria
Lisa-Claire Triggiani with Paul Triggiani and friend.
Maxine K. Armstrong and Sara Bartow.
Roddy and Christina Tilt.
Baker's Dozen of Yale University.

Photographs by Kristyn Miller Photography (REACH Prep)

Contact DPC here.