It was all out glamour for a great cause.
Since the 19th century, The New York City Mission Society has been a favorite charity of the city’s most notable families. Dina Merrill, the actress, society figure, and daughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post, once the richest woman in the U.S, was long active with the group, a tradition her son, Stanley Rumbough, and grandson Cole, continue to this day. For over 200 years the Society has helped the city’s neediest families and children through a wide array of outreach programs.
Mission Society recently held its annual gala, which was chaired for the third year by Jean Shafiroff, the noted philanthropist and former honoree who is on the charity’s board of directors. Shafiroff, who recently published the book, Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give. Shafiroff said, “I am involved with the Mission Society because it changes the lives of our most underserved children and adolescents. With one out of three children in our city living at or below the poverty level, I believe it is our responsibility to do all we can to give them the opportunity to succeed. Mission Society gives these children supplemental educational and recreational opportunities so that they can move forward to college and to fulfilling jobs! I like being involved with a charity that each year helps change the lives of over 18,000 NYC children and adolescents!”
This year’s gala, called Champions for Children, took place at the Mandarin Oriental and honored Afro Latin Jazz Alliance (ALJA) founder/artistic director and multiple Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrill. Last year, ALJA partnered with the Mission Society to launch GRIOT (Global Rhythms in Our Tribe), an educational program that provides free music education to youngsters in Harlem and surrounding areas. (A pianist and composer, O’Farrill founded ALJA in 2007 so he could bring big band Latin jazz to a broader audience and create educational programs for young performers.) Medgar Evers College/CUNY President Rudolph F. Crew, who previously served as New York City Schools Chancellor, delivered the keynote address at the event, and was introduced by former New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.
Guests in the crowd included the benefit’s committee members: Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller, Colbert Narcisse, and Katrina and Don Peebles (Honorary Chairs); Peggy and John Bader, Missy Kilroy and John Moorhead, Leah and Stan Rumbough, Yemi and Patrick Vatel and Brooke Laing (Auction Chair). Other attendees included former New York State Governor David Paterson, Cole Rumbough, and Fox News Channel Reporter Harris Faulkner. WABC-TV Anchor Bill Ritter served as emcee, and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble performed during the evening.