The preservation and conservancy of beauty, nature’s bounty, is one of society’s highest callings. The task of maintaining/preserving the beauty of our state’s treasures from Manhattan to the Hamptons often seems to be the province of a few of the city’s most well heeled socialites. Take for example, the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy. (Photo: Karen LeFrak & Gillian Miniter at the Playground Partners East Side Party at the James Levin Playground on May 18, 2005, click here to see photo albums from recent Conservancy events.)
The fundraising efforts of a relatively small handful of women form the backbone of Conservancy funding. The several million that they raise annually through a diverse array of events approaches 15-20% of the park’s annual operating budget. Events such as Playground Partners East/West Side Parties encourage other parents, children and families to serve as stewards of Central Park. The Annual Frederick Law Olmstead Luncheon, a virtual cause celebre among socialite women, raised $2.3 million dollars this year. The Taste of Summer Event hosted by many of the Young Associates of the Women’s Committee serves as the official launch of summer in New York City. (Photo: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Samantha Topping & Gillian Miniter at the Playground Partners East Side Party at the James Levin Playground on May 18, 2005)
The women behind these fundraisers bear a disproportionate portion of the cost of preservation while others in our society benefit far more than their relative contributions. Despite the foregoing the efforts of these women go on in earnest with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm. (Photo: Mommies, Christine Cachot Williams & Nina Bauer & their respective daughters at the Playground Partners East Side Party at the James Levin Playground on May 18, 2005)
It is often said that cleanliness is next to godliness. How we choose to attain balance in our lives and otherwise treat the “temple” that is our body with health and fitness regimens, sound nutrition practices and good hygiene is indicative of or a reflection of our value system as a people. If that is the case, then it would logically follow that the ultimate environment in which that temple resides is of equal if not more importance. One would not place a well crafted piece of art work or fine cherry wood furniture in the middle of a toxic waste dump or land fill. The case for conservancy and preservation thus grows stronger with the passage of time. Lest we underestimate its import or significance in a parallel fashion our respective temples, the body and the environment around us may devolve prematurely into “ruins.” (Photo: Susan Shin, Lisa Anastos & Adelina Wong Ettelson)
Society’s matrons are in essence “Mother Nature’s” little helpers. While many of these women could be more easily seduced by the creature comforts of their affluent lifestyles, a number of them such as Gillian Miniter, the chairwoman of the Playground Partners benefits, Karen Lefrak, President of the Women’s Committee and other Women’s Committee Members, Samantha Topping, Nina Bauer and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff creatively invest their time, energy and spirit/creativity towards preservation. Notably, Young Associates, Susan Shin, Christine Cachot, Coralie Charriol, Lisa Anastos, Blair Husain, Adelina Wong Ettelson are women to watch as well. This is counter to the perception that the beautiful women of the aristocratic classes in New York City and the Hamptons merely shop and do lunch. While I am certain that there are those who choose to spend the days that way, others do not. Their social calling is Society’s gain.
Masculine, testosterone filled impulses may have largely led to the erection of buildings, structures and facilities forming the foundation of the metropolis we know of as New York City. Yet it is the fabric of our community, the glue or feminine aspect which we often take for granted. Feminine instincts allow us to scale back and more methodically develop, preserve and beautify that which we create. It is at this time of the year, flowers in bloom, warm sunny days on pristine New York beaches in the Hamptons, leisurely strolls through the greenery in Central Park that we should reflect on the sublime feminine influences that beautify our culture. Let us celebrate the feminine as much as we revere the masculine. (Photo: Cindy Adams Gossip Column in the New York Post on May 21, 2005)
The social lives of women of means are the grease that fuels essential New York Charity. Let us toast the women of the Conservancy and their like mined fundraising sisters who take up the calling and creatively put the force of their networks towards beautification and preservations of essential aspects of our enviornment. Their intimate and glamorous cocktail and dinner parties as well as family gatherings in the Park are not without purpose. So, you can have the “Desperate Housewives.” Give me instead “Manhattan Mommies on a Mission.” What matters to these women and about these women is far more than their style and good manners, even though both are always quite impeccable and would make Emily Post as well as Tom Ford proud. We are all prime beneficiaries of their efforts.
Thank you to these women of means for not merely setting a great example but also making New York, the Hamptons and my world a better place to live and enjoy life. You are the salt of the earth. What you do nurtures the spirit of mankind. My summer will be filled with a little more of the pink and green, and the blue and pink, of Lily Pulitzer in honor of you.