Keep on keeping on

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Cloud coverage over Upper Manhattan. Photo: JH.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Sunny but chillier in New York yesterday, with temps in the mid-50 and falling to the mid-40s by evening (with a RealFeel of 32 degrees!) and Excellent air quality according to Accu-Weather.

The Park Avenue Association held their annual Holiday Lighting along the avenue. This has long been one of the hallmarks of the holiday season. This year there was no lighting ceremony. No New Yorkers out on the corners caroling – especially from the 90s (the top of the hill looking south). Nevertheless, NYSD’s intrepid photographer didn’t forget so he took a quick pic of a tree. For you and me and all the rest of us! Something for your spirit (and glad tidings).


The Christmas season has officially begun, marked by The Park Avenue Tree Lighting. Albeit a quiet one, but the Christmas spirit is stronger than ever.

Despite the lonely calendar this season – and I’m referring to the galas, celebrations, fund-raising benefits that are not present for us clamoring crowds these days – the show must go on. Funds are needed and Zoom has taken on quite a few, and successfully, all things considered. Here are two events, quite different and quite well supported, and for good reasons.

More than a hundred ardent Francophiles and supporters of the French French Heritage Society — dressed to the nines in black and red — gathered “virtually for their Black and Red Ball on Tuesday November 19th. They were honoring the architect and designer Robert Couturier. H.E. Philippe Étienne, Ambassador of France to the U.S., M. Jérémie Robert, Consul General of France in New York, Gaëtan Bruel, Cultural Counseor of the French Embassy, all joined in the tribute to Couturier, as favorite son of France, who is now proudly American, still “sharing the style of our nation.”


Clockwise from top left: Geoffrey Bradfield; CeCe Black; Robert Courturier; Ann Van Ness; Elizabeth Stribling.

In accepting his honor, Mr. Couturier told the guests, “I very much believe in the mission of French Heritage, and the work you have done, always choosing the right path, to help maintain the distinctive and integral French culture. I am deeply humbled by your kind attention.“  

The highlight of the evening was a tour of Couturier’s magnificent home in South Kent, Connecticut.  

The evening also included a message from Comte Denis de Kergorlay, president of French Heritage Society and a visit to Château de Goudourville — with a warm greeting from its owners Genevieve and Jean-Christophe Mifsud who spoke at length of the importance of their grant from French Heritage Society.


Clockwise from top left: Phillippe Etienne; Guy N. Robinson; Jérémie Robert, Consul General of France in New York; Kelly Konrad.

The night was a great success, culminating in three different “virtual” after parties hosted by the honoree, as well as CeCe Black who was a co-chairs of the evening with Jean Shafiroff; along with  Geoffrey Bradfield, Elisa Fredrickson, and Ann Van Ness, along with French Heritage Chairman Elizbeth Stribling.

Patrons of the evening included Susanne Abplanalp and David M. Gray, Agnes R. Beane, Jean and Buddy Bolton, Sharon Bush, Yann Coatanlem, Timothy Corrigan, Christian Draz, Ronald Lee Fleming, Elisa Fredrickson, Susan Gutfreund, Rosann and Richard Gutman, Gurnee and Marjorie Hart, Bruce Horten, Adrianne Joseph, Fernanda Kellogg and Kirk Henckels, Helen K. King, Michael A. Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, Odile de Schiétère-Longchampt and Michel Longchampt, Judy McLaren, Kazie and John Harvey, Jay R. Paul, George and Jeri Sape,  Guy N. Robinson, Cassandra Surer, Barbara and Donald Tober, Ann Van Ness, Barbara Wolf, and many more …


Clockwise from above: Jean Shafiroff; Denis de Kergorlay; Odile and Michele LongChampt.

French Heritage Society Executive Director Jennifer Herlein expressed her gratitude  to everyone attending French Heritage Society’s first virtual ball. The gala provides critical support for their mission. It allows them to award restoration grants and provide internship opportunities to university students in France and the United States.  

“While the pandemic has impacted much of what we do,” Ms. Herlein explained, “important restoration work continues at our grant sites and some students have elected to do their internships remotely. 

Their mission continues, FHS makes gifts and provides work to craftsmen— protecting the future of the French architectural and cultural legacy both in France and the United States. French Heritage Society ensures that the treasures of our shared French architectural and cultural heritage survive to inspire future generations to build, dream and create.”



The Saturday before, The Humane Society of the United States hosted a “virtual” gala “To the Rescue” to benefit the organization’s animal rescue efforts. Hosted by Saturday Night Live’s cast member Cecily Strong, with Audra McDonald hosting the pre-show with a special performance, they raised more than over $2 million dollars at “To the Rescue!” gala to help save animals.

During the gala, McDonald performed “Go Back Home” (from the musical “Scottsboro Boys”) as well as a medley of  “Children Will Listen” (from “Into the Woods”) and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ve Got to Be Taught” (from “South Pacific”).


Audra McDonald.

Other celebrity guests included Liev Schreiber, Mena Suvari, Rob and Marisol Thomas, Nathan Turner, Dylan Lauren, Katie Sturino; Georgina Bloomberg who was the gala chair; and Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

To the Rescue! took place in an innovative 3D environment where guests were taken through a fantasy setting of flowery meadows, glamping-style yurts, and a backyard barn stage to watch the event.

The online auction included an opportunity to pitch your business idea over Zoom to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and a once in a lifetime trip to the Canadian winter ice floes where mother seals give birth to their pups.


Kitty Block.

The event also featured an engaging virtual photobooth that transported guests inside the virtual environment.

The gala benefits the continued work of the HSUS to end the cruelest practices towards animals, spotlighting the organization’s animal rescue initiatives, farm animal protection, puppy mill campaigns, and global initiatives to stop the dog meat trade!!

The HSUS has operated in crisis response mode since the first days of the pandemic lockdown. They’ve been helping vulnerable animals survive and delivering aid to communities where people and pets are struggling. Remember when it gets hard for people, the first to suffer are often the children and the animals. For them it can be a horror show of rage, abuse and starvation.


Liev Schreiber.
Mena Suvari.

The 2020 Leadership Committee included Susan Atherton, Ian Bass, Wendy and Howard Berk, Jennifer Faga, Wayne S. Flick, Allison Friedberg, Kimberly Handler, Gretchen Jelinek, Cathy Kangas, Jennifer Laue, Patrick McDonnell and Karen O’Connell, Sharon Patrick, Terry Rakolta, Debra Shore, Alanna Tarkington, and Marisol Thomas.

This year’s gala was sponsored by Moroccanoil, Stray Dog Capital, Liberty Mutual Insurance, TJX, PVH Corp, Hallmark Channel’s Adoption Ever After, Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey, ROI Solutions and Merkle Response Management Group. The virtual gala was produced by Eventique.


Kitty Block, Audra McDonald, and Katie Sturino.
Nathan Turner.

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States fights the big fights to end suffering for all animals. They take on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries. With their affiliates, they rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals every year through their animal rescue team’s work and other hands-on animal care services.

Two of those animals, Rosemary and Willie, live with this writer. The Humane Society fights all forms of animal cruelty to achieve the vision behind our name: A humane society.

Learn more about  their work at humanesociety.org. Subscribe  to Kitty Block’s blog,   A Humane World. Read the award-winning All Animals magazine. Listen to the Humane Voices Podcast.

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