When my son Josh and I bought Dan’s Papers nearly a year ago, I had no idea what fun I’d have meeting so many extraordinary people and this weekend was the best of all!
It started Thursday evening, when I had dinner with dearest city friends Denise Arbesu (senior vice president of Citi Commercial Bank and former chair of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce) and her husband Peter Meyer (market president of TD Bank, now reassigned to central Florida from having built the bank in New York City).
I’ve missed them and I delightedly accepted their invitation to dinner at their country club, where Peter is an avid golfer. After all, more business gets done on the golf course than in any office!
Joining us at the table was Brooklyn native Michael Tadross — I like to think the best people were born in Brooklyn — who is an executive producer working Paramount and Kaufman Astoria Studios.
He’s had some extraordinary success producing hit films such as “Indecent Proposal,” “Die Hard” and “Forrest Gump,” and working frequently with actor Will Smith.
It was also sweet to find out he is a good friend of my good friend “Judge” Judy Sheindlin.
We could have talked all night and I enjoyed meeting his very talented wife Dr. Georgia Witkin, who works at Mt. Sinai Hospital as an expert and clinical psychologist on infertility. She’s brought joy to so many families and it was my joy to meet her.
Denise’s sister Christiane Arbesu is president of Terrebonne Productions and an award-winning filmmaker. She was also an honoree at Dan’s Papers OUT East End Impact Awards that were held at Calissa in Water Mill.
Rounding out the dinner table was another interesting man, John DiConza, president of The Sinclair Group, which lends money on real estate projects. Believe it or not, he had Brooklyn roots, too!
We were the last ones to leave the clubhouse after enjoying dinner on the patio with the stars shining brightly above us. What a fascinating night!
A NIGHT AMONG HONOREES
The next night, my friend Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright honored me and several other leaders at the Capri Hotel’s NAIA Hamptons restaurant.
Its open-air space was a perfect environment for the congenial crowd including my friend and colleague Dan Rattiner, attending with his wonderful wife Chris Wasserstein!
Thanks, Rebecca, for celebrating the Above and Beyond Leadership awardees.
Honorees included Joan MacNaughton; Julie Ratner, founder of the Ellen Hermanson Foundation; our writer Flo Anthony; attorney Elizabeth Holtzman; landscape designer Frederico Azevedo; Dr. Peter Michalos, a regular contributor on ABC radio and Dan’s Papers columnist; Charles Evdos, executive director of RISE Life Services; philanthropist and restaurateur Michael Pitsinos; Founder/CEO of the Cana Foundation Manda Kalimian; and Women’s Health Advocate Sybil Shainwald, Esq., a groundbreaking attorney who received the Carolyn Maloney Leadership Award.
The night had already nourished my soul, but I was off to another party.
A GREAT CAUSE
Dan’s Papers was the media sponsor of the Tusk Lions Trail, a foundation that raises money to discourage poaching and protecting wildlife in Africa.
I’d been on a safari in South Africa and I was shocked at how few lions were left to roam the massive lands.
The newspapers told the gruesome story about people who were allegedly killing the animals for their tusks that supposedly offer aphrodisiac properties. How awful!
This international organization offered life-size casts of lions to artists to creatively paint them and, after being on display in the Hamptons, have them auctioned off to benefit the cause.
Friday night, the bidding began and my two favorite designs — one by Donna Karan and the other by family friend Jeremy Penn — raised thousands of dollars! Another lion went for $100,000 on its own!
An enormous success for the cause!
A BUSY SATURDAY
Every Saturday morning, John Catsimatidis leads a 9 a.m. breakfast with interesting speakers. This week, the special guest was John Poulos, CEO of Dominion Voting Systems Corporation.
His company was accused of “fixing” the 2020 presidential election by right-wing zealots. With emotional words, he shared how he has received hundreds of death threats, but his company had no machines in the states where the threats originated.
His company’s engineering of voting machines are all based on paper ballots that can be verified and were, each time showing that Biden had won. Sadly, facts don’t matter to zealots.
After breakfast, I made a quick visit to Shabbos services run by Rabbi Schneier at The Hampton Synagogue.
Then I was off to meet my daughter Samantha and granddaughter Morgan for lunch in Westhsmpton’s Salt & Loft, where we dined on the outdoor patio.
But the day was not done.
I went home to dress for the annual Blue Dream Summer Gala, where the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons raised money for critical causes. More than 650 people gathered under an enormous, glamorous tent.
One of the recipients of the money raised was Luv Michael, which provides a life of dignity and purpose for adults in the autism spectrum through education, employment and residential services. Dr. Lisa Liberatore was motivated by her son Michael’s needs to create the group that makes a difference in so many lives and to so many people. Well deserved!
Another beneficiary of the church’s generosity was The LOHM Foundation, founded by Topeka K. Sam. She had served in federal prison and saw firsthand the issues faced by women of color during and after incarceration. She set out to make a difference and today, the LOHM (Ladies of Hope Ministries) Foundation has created several programs that have radically reduced recidivism.
Topeka is an extraordinary person, proving the power of one!
Ironically, both Congressman Lee Zeldin and State Attorney General Letitia James stood side-by-side commending the honorees.
A IMPACTFUL END TO THE WEEKEND
The weekend ended on Sunday with Dan’s Papers first ever OUT East End Impact Awards, which joyously brought together leaders in the area’s LGBTQ community, just as we do in the city with our Gay City News media outlet.
What a treat it was for me to see my granddaughter Addy team up with emcee Angela LaGreca to give out the awards!
I’m so grateful to Demetra, Toni, Joseph and the entire Dan’s Papers salesforce for their help in putting this outdoor event together! We raised almost $8,000 for Southampton Hospital’s Edie Windsor Health Center.
What a remarkable end to a magnificent weekend!