The New York City Mission Society, founded in 1812, helps poverty stricken New Yorkers transcend the social ills which adversely impact upon them. With a focus upon education, workforce and youth development, and community-building programs, the Society supports immigrants and promotes academic achievement.
As one of the most vital human service agencies in the city, the Society responds to existing and emerging needs via after school programs which assist thousands of people. This organization improves academic skills, promotes higher education, provides internships for teenagers, combats health challenges, and mitigates against gang violence.
The event was held in the Forbes Gallery where guests were treated to being able to view Edward Melcarth’s (1914-1973) Italian Baroque style paintings which depict twisted, huddled poses positioned against arbitrarily shadowed backgrounds. I was interested to learn that the work of this artist who adroitly depicted 1950’s America is still located in the Pierre Hotel rotunda. As jazz subtly played in the background, guests helped themselves to a heaping plate of delicious smoked salmon and crudités while munching on lamb meatballs, chicken salad, rolled beef, and warm mushroom pilaf passed hors d’oeuvres.
Although talking about the weather constitutes unspeakable tedium, I must say that this event took place on a day when New York was assaulted by the most horrendous and obnoxious slush I have ever closely encountered as a resident of this city. I was very curious to see how – in light of the fact that Park Avenue was flooded and venturing out entailed navigating curbs which had become ice rivers and seemingly bottomless slush infested pits–socialites would avoid fashion malfunctions. While some attendees were predictably resplendent, I noticed that many women did not even try to get dressed up. Black leggings and boots served as the evening’s au courant fashion statement.
And – OMG – we are all intrepid slush survivors permeated the proceedings and fostered camaraderie. I spoke with Society Program Manager Aida Amaldonadoo who told me an inspiring story about how the Society improved the life of a little girl whose mother, a single parent, did not have enough time to care for her. Ms. Amaldonado informed me that the mother articulated this enthusiastic response: “I must have been crazy not to enroll my child in the Mission. I am forever grateful to the Mission.”
The evening’s main purpose was to generate excitement for the March 12, 2014 annual benefit for the Society which will be held at the Plaza Hotel. Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff, who will receive the Dina Merrill Hartley Public Service Award for her advocacy work on behalf of human service organizations, explained why she wishes to work with the Society. (Dina Merrill, born in 1923 and the only child of Post Cereals heir Marjorie Merriweather Post, is a beautiful and elegant iconic 1960s era actress, socialite, businesswoman and philanthropist.) Merrill’s son, David Rumbough, introduced Shafiroff—who wore a black and white floral print bare shoulder poofy flounce over a pencil skirt-like bottomed dress and very high beige heels. Shafiroff, with great sincerity, described how her heart “broke in half” when she saw how the Society helped poor children via enrolling them in summer camp classes. “Children are our future. If we don’t take care of children, we don’t help our country,” she said.
As the evening ended and I was kissing the ground that I would again be facing the an ice river runs through it Manhattan streets while wearing my trusty black dress sneakers, I thought that Shafiroff—regardless of all rain, hail, sleet, snow or gloom of night exigencies–would never ever ever be caught dead wearing black leggings and boots to a social event. Ditto for Dina Merrill.
– Marleen Barr
Photos via R. Couri Hay PR