Hope on the Horizon

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500 talented young choristers from all five boroughs performed at Young People’s Chorus of New York City's annual gala benefit concert & dinner at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.

Friday, March 24, 2023. Yesterday started out with a light and temps in the 50s and ended with some Sun and temps close to 60 until evening when it dropped 15 or 20 degrees. The schools in my neighborhood were closed for vacation (remember those?). As a result, the neighborhood felt more like a weekend neighborhood. Except for the UPS, FedEx and the USPS unloading the hundreds of boxes large and small for one particular block.

Another day, another package.

We run “Party Pictures” for a couple of reasons, the first being that people like to look at people, especially if they’re dressed up and ready to go. It’s just curiosity, like looking out your living room window and watching your neighbors walk by. Attractive, curious and harmless. Everybody needs some of those moments in her or his day.

There is a more important reason underlining all of it on NYSD. That is to show you the community who is out there doing for others, for their neighbors, for their own so more can know about it. That’s what it does for all of us to improve and/or support things to the advantage of everyone. 

One of the lesser known qualities about US (the US) as a People is our philanthropy. Philanthropy is imagined as large and institutional, but were it not for the smaller often unknown ones, we wouldn’t have created the blessings available to all Americans.

An excellent example of that kind of philanthropy, which frankly I’d never even heard of until they came to us, is Rising Ground. 

Girls and young women gather to enjoy the grounds in Yonkers in the early 1900s.

It is not new. It was founded in 1831 (!) as an orphanage. 192 years later Rising Ground is a leading nonprofit human services organization, with nearly 1600 individuals employed currently operating more than 50 programs at sites across all New York City boroughs and Westchester County. Every day it provides children, adults, and families with the resources and skills needed to rise above adversity and to positively direct their lives. 

It’s been at the forefront of supporting evolving community needs. Today, Rising Ground’s work is a positive force in the lives of more than 25,000 children, adults, and family members.

When it comes to promoting and fund-raising, New York Real Estate firms can be very helpful. Every guest who simply buys a ticket is supporting the efforts. Typically feted are designers for their designs in commercial and residential development. However, OPEN Impact Real Estate founders Lindsay Ornstein and Stephen Powers were honored at Rising Ground’s 2023 Annual Gala with the “Champion for Children” Award, for their work in giving back in New York.

Stephen Powers and Lindsay Ornstein, co-founders of OPEN Impact Real Estate, the evening’s honorees who received the “Champion for Children Award”; with Rising Ground’s CEO Alan Mucatel.

The Henry Family, which was honored. Charlotte and Anthony Henry (pictured here on the left) have been foster parents for the past 13 years. They have adopted several foster care children over the years. Also pictured here: Brianna, Tristen, and Sean Henry, three of their adopted children.

The Gala took place March 9th at The Metropolitan Club. WABC & New York’s Kemberly Richardson of WABC 7 New York co-hosted the evening with Chuck Nice, comedian, actor, TV radio and podcast host. There was also a special musical performance by Broadway’s Alton Fitzgerald White.

The evening’s co-hosts comedian Chuck Nice and Kemberly Richardson, a member of WABC-TV’s news team.

Always a heartwarming feature of a Rising Ground gala is the personal stories told by a few of the individuals who have been helped by this award-winning nonprofit’s innovative programs to overcome adversity.

For more information, visit RisingGround.org

Begum Taft with Will Taft of Manhattan (he is the great- great-grandson of President William Howard Taft).

Julia Fitch, Kabel Lewis, Kendall Elliott, and Lillian Krohn.
Alex Smith, Connie Marquez, and Joe Cotter.
Ellen Polansky, Allen Waxman (VP, Board of Directors, Rising Ground), and Brigette McLeod-Williams (Secretary, Board of Directors, Rising Ground).
Dr. Joyce Copin-Bendesire, Board of Directors, Rising Ground, with Julianna Kovacs, and friend.
Adani Illo, Mariam Kamara, and Brian Oduor.
L. to r.: Mindy Goldstein and Abbey Braverman; Brina and Allen Waxman.
Matt Del Percio, President of the Board of Directors of Rising Ground; with Kemberly Richardson.
Craig and Rosemarie Montalbano.

Meanwhile down in Palm Beach, the fundraising is shining. On Wednesday, a week ago supporters gathered to attend the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s (ADDF) 6th Annual Hope on the Horizon Palm Beach Dinner to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary. The evening honored Bonnie Lautenberg as the recipient of the 2023 Hope on the Horizon Award for 15 years of leadership and outstanding support of the ADDF’s mission.

Honoree Bonnie Lautenberg and family.

I’ve been following this project since just about the beginning. Alzheimer’s had already affected the lives of millions related to the victims and it was generally considered hopeless and impossible. When the two Lauder brothers — Ronald Lauder and Leonard Lauder — started this particular philanthropic organization in 1988, I was curious because of the brothers confidence. They are major philanthropists in our world, with a great fortune begun by their mother and their father and greatly enhanced by the sons.  Their general philanthropy is quite well known and great fortunes have been contributed by them to assist.

They are both very serious men committed to their personal interests. They set up this organization so that ALL FUNDS contributed went entirely to fund research all over the world. They personally picked up the expense of running the organization.

Tom McWilliams, Ronald Lauder, Leonard Lauder, Judy Lauder, and Jo Carole Lauder.

They have been very successful in raising funds as well as researching the cure. This particular event raised more than $1.4 million, every dollar of which will go directly to support promising science, with an addition $1 million gift pledged by Ms. Lautenberg and her sisters, Lois Robbins and Carol Weisman. The ADDF is the only nonprofit solely focused on accelerating the development of drugs for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Randal Sandler, Co-Vice Chair and Secretary of the ADDF’s Board of Governors, opened the evening with a message of hope at the progress the ADDF has propelled. “From the beginning, the ADDF has been leading the charge, shaping the way the world understands and relates to Alzheimer’s. Now, it is within our grasp to transform this devastating disease into something treatable and preventable for our families and all those who come after us.”

The event’s Co-Chair, Judy Glickman Lauder, presented Ms. Lautenberg with the Hope on the Horizon Award. “The dedication Bonnie shows to her friends, her family, and her art is equaled only by the passion she gives to the causes she supports. It feels fitting to be honoring her during the ADDF’s 25th year. Alzheimer’s could soon be a treatable disease that will not cause any more families to suffer, and this is thanks to Bonnie’s efforts and the progress being made every day by the ADDF,” said Mrs. Lauder.

ADDF co-founder Leonard Lauder, Honoree Bonnie Lautenberg, and Event Co-Chair Judy Lauder.

Accepting the award, Ms. Lautenberg said, “Thank you to everyone here for your support of this very worthy cause. I am standing here tonight because my mother, Jean Steinberg, had Alzheimer’s disease and I truly believe the ADDF is the organization that will put us on the best path to a cure so no one else will have to watch their parents or grandparents or spouses slip away.”

Bonnie Lautenberg with Event Co-Chairs Heidi McWilliams and Nancy Goodes.

The event also featured an in-depth discussion on the latest advances in Alzheimer’s research based on the biology of aging with Dr. Howard Fillit, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at the ADDF, and Dr. Miranda Orr, Assistant Professor of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and winner of the ADDF’s 2022 Melvin R. Goodes Prize for Excellence in Alzheimer’s Drug Development.

The dinner was attended by local business, social and civic leaders, including Judy and Leonard Lauder, Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder, Vicki Kellogg, Eleanora Kennedy, Paulette Koch, Tom and Heidi McWilliams, Wilbur and Hilary Geary Ross, John Paulson, Robert and Susan Klein, Peter and Jamee Gregory, Cynthia Friedman, Nacho Figueras, Caryn Clayman, Howard and Judy Bernick, Bal Agrawal, Philip and Laurie Gross, Dede Harris, Randal and Liz Sandler, Janice Worth, to name a few.

Past recipients of the Hope on the Horizon Award include Aerin and Jane Lauder, Paula Zahn, Judy Glickman Lauder, Marcia Gay Harden, and Kim Campbell.

To learn more, visit: www.alzdiscovery.org.

L. to r.: Rita and Charles Bronfman; Jamee and Peter Gregory.
L. to r.: Ginger and Larry Leeds; Sharon Sager and Mary Farrell.
Macy and Lara Metz, Bonnie Lautenberg, and Danielle Englebardt.
L. to r.: Jennifer and David Fischer; Hilary and Wilbur Ross.
L. to r.: Eleanora Kenndy and Jo Carole Lauder; Tara Holcomb and Mark Roithmayr.
Steve Leber, Bonnie Lautenberg, and Nacho Figueras.
L. to r.: George and Christine Leeds; Liz and Randal Sandler.
L. to r.: Walter Glennon and Linda Kielland; Patti Silver and Lenny Ackerman.
Leonard and Judy Lauder.

And to top things off, Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC) held its annual gala benefit concert & dinner at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall last Monday night. The evening included a concert featuring the diverse voices of 500 talented young choristers from all five of NYC’s boroughs coming together to sing repertoire that spanned Classical to Broadway.

Actor Jordan Donica, who will star as Sir Lancelot in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Camelot opening April 14, and actress Emilie Kouatchou, who is currently earning rave reviews as Christine in the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera, performed with the choristers, as well. Other notable attendees included Francisco J. and Elizabeth Núñez, Adam Chinn, Deborah McManus, Michael Fraccaro and more.

Actor Jordan Donica Performing with YPC Choristers.
Actress Emilie Kouatchou performing with YPC Choristers.

The funds raised at the gala support important year round YPC initiatives such as its award winning Performance Choruses, School Choruses Program, Community Choruses, and its College Bound programs which provides academic and college application support, internships, funding for college scholarships and more.

Francisco J. and Elizabeth Núñez, and Deborah McManus.
Michael Fraccaro, Adam Chinn, and Francisco J. Nunez.

It is the mission of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City to provide children of all cultural and economic backgrounds with a unique program of music education and choral performance that seeks to fulfill each child’s potential, while creating a model of artistic excellence and diversity that enriches the community. The mission says it all.

Visit www.ypc.org for information.

Francisco J. Núñez conducting.

YPC Choristers …

Photographs by Ben Asen (Rising Ground); Capehart (ADDF); Stephanie Berger (YPC)

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