Tuesday, March 3, 2015

New York Junior League’s 63rd Annual Winter Ball at The Pierre Hotel

The New York Junior League (NYJL) held a magical Winter Ball at the Pierre Hotel this past Saturday. The evening brought together volunteers, family, and friends to honor recipients of NYJL’s Outstanding Sustainer and Outstanding Volunteer Awards, the NYJL’s highest honor.   

Kristine Johnson, Emmy award-winning CBS News anchor presented awards to Outstanding Sustainers Catherine C. Crane and Peggy Anne Dineen, and Outstanding Volunteers Jana Beauchamp, Sharon Bonanni, Allison Marie Hyers, Cynthia Vitari Song, and Leah Wenger.

The fundraising evening also commemorated both the groundbreaking community service projects and the women volunteers, who dedicate their time and efforts to realizing the mission of the New York Junior League. With approximately 600 guests in attendance, this was the largest annual fundraiser for the NYJL, and its proceeds benefit the organization’s charitable activities.
“The New York Junior League has been an important part of my life for nearly 20 years. I've had the privilege of working in the community as well as the support side of things. The training I've received has helped me both personally and professionally. Additionally, I have met so many bright, motivated and philanthropic women since joining. The NYJL has truly been a life changing experience for me,” commented President of the NYJL, Stacey Lawrence Lee.

Since 1952, the NYJL has celebrated its history of community service by honoring outstanding NYJL volunteers and community partners at its largest annual fundraiser, the Winter Ball. More than 3,000 invitations are mailed to recipients in the New York metropolitan area and approximately 600 guests attend the black-tie gala. Proceeds from this event support the NYJL’s collaborative community programs in the New York City metropolitan area, including: Union Settlement Association, the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, Women’s Prison Association, Mentoring USA, and numerous others as well as operations of the New York Junior League and the continued training of their volunteers.

The New York Junior League (NYJL) is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

Since 1901, the NYJL has been a leader in identifying and responding to unmet community needs. Through direct service, collaborations with other community organizations and advocacy, the NYJL provides a positive force for change within the communities it serves.

Each year more than 2,600 trained volunteers donate more than 250,000 hours of their time to better the lives of women and children in New York City. The NYJL works with more than 20 community-based organizations and public agencies to deliver services and assistance directly to women and children in need.

To learn more or donate visit: www.nyjl.org

The evening began with a cocktail reception and silent auction. I was so excited to see the lovely Arielle Patrick who serves as the NYJL’s Communications Committee Vice Chair in addition to being a Financial Crisis PR lead at Weber Shandwick. Arielle had invited me a few weeks ago to cover the ball. Ms. Patrick looked like the epitome of glamour in her high-low Dee Hutton gown. 

I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect look for the occasion than my golden THEIA gown. The piece was crafted with thousands of gold sequins that were sewed together to form a meticulously ornate design. Every time I wear THEIA I feel like a Princess and this time was certainly no exception. Don O’Niell, the designer of THEIA makes every dress with the idea of bringing out a woman’s inner goddess. In fact, the goddess THEIA, who ruled during the Greek golden age, inspires the collection.  

My best friend / Attorney Advisor, Robin Herman was my photographer for the evening. It’s incredibly hard to maneuver a big camera in a fancy gown so her assistance was definitely very much appreciated. Of course, she’s also one of my good friends so we literally had a ball together. No pun intended! ;)

Ms. Herman was wearing a green petal gown also made by THEIA. The beautiful green dress was the perfect compliment to her green eyes and blonde hair.  

Walking around the cocktail reception at the Pierre Hotel was a complete dream. I savored every moment of the pure decadence of gowns, jewels and tuxes around the crystal chandelier adorned rooms. It’s as if the Gatsby era had been brought back to life and in fact it was as this year’s NYJL’s Winter Ball was themed “Deco & Diamonds- A Jazz Age Affair”.

Highlights of this year’s Live Auction included dining and wine experience, an elegant Salvatore Ferragamo handbag and the ultimate Knicks fan experience. The Silent Auction featured dinners at The Clam or dell’anima, fitness packages at SoulCycle, CityRow and Exhale, a bottle of Balvenie 17-yr scotch, a year-long membership at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and much more!

I couldn’t resist to sneak a peek of the grand ballroom dining room which would later host a seated dinner and award presentation for the Outstanding Sustainers and Outstanding Volunteers, as well as an exciting live auction. A majestic sea of sparkling gold and silver tables was set perfectly with the finest silverware. Crystal chandeliers provided a dually brilliant and ethereal tone for the evening ahead.

During the evening I was thrilled to meet Dayna Cassidy, one of the members of the NYJL. Dayna looked absolutely stunning in her custom made THEIA gown. Totally bias opinion, but looks like THEIA was one of the most popular dresses of the ball. ;)

Making my rounds of mingling I had also met Sarah JJ Caffey, an E-Commerce Consultant from California. Ms. Caffey was wearing Jil Sander and a custom skirt of her own design. My favorite part of her look was the shocking pop of color from her heels. It was an unexpected pairing, but they definitely worked incredibly well to compliment her outfit.

I took a quick selfie to get a closer shot of my updo which I was very proud of as I did it all by myself! I’m decent at doing my own makeup, but when it comes to hair I’m not as skilled. A few hours before the ball I had looked up DIY updos and came across a seemingly easy video of one from The Small Things Blog. I can’t say the final result came out as masterfully as the one in the video but it was certainly good enough for my first time.

I continued meeting as many interesting people as possible. It wasn’t a hard fete as everyone in attendance at the ball was the who’s who of society and philanthropy in New York. I had the pleasure of meeting Leslie Zemnick NYJL co-chair and Diana Bondy, who serves as a member. Mrs. Bondy’s mother and friends were a part of the NYJL and now she also contributes to its success in the community.

Next, I met Lauren Borman who works in the digital/pr world. One of my favorite things about balls is of course the fashion. I always make a point to meet the best dressed people and I completely adored her look! From the fur to the gold and blue checked gown, her look was everything!

One of last people I had a chance to meet was Kristine Johnson, Emmy award-winning CBS News anchor for New York’s 5 p.m. & 11 p.m. broadcasts who served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening’s program. 

During her speech, Mrs. Johnson eloquently said "I really respect the legacy that all of you are carrying on. I don't think that I quite understood the support that women can have for one another. Whether if you're a stay at home mom, in the professional world, whatever you decide to do with your life having the support of your girlfriends is so important. I can't tell you how open you need to be to that, because it wasn't until I realized that and learned that, that success started coming my way. So if I could just leave you with one that thing that would be it this evening and to always give back to the community."

In true journalistic fashion I couldn’t resist to ask her who the designer of her stunning dress was. Ms. Johnson responded that she was wearing Bibhu Mohapatra.

Thank you so much Arielle and the NYJL committee for having me be a part of this important and historic charity ball for the NYJL! As Kristine Johnson mentioned, women who support women are clearly in the path of success. To end this story in a note of success I must include that the NYJL's 63rd Annual Winter Ball raised half a million dollars that evening to support its various charity endeavors to help women.

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