Monday, September 17, 2007

“Roosevelt Island for Orphans” Campaign Ended Over Target

Our “Roosevelt Island for Orphans” Campaign ended significantly over our target of $10,000. “I would like to thank all of those who continued to move my dream of Raising Global Citizens towards reality,” stated OI founder Jim Luce.

Matt Katz, president of the Roosevelt Island Residents’ Association (RIRA) and Dick Lutz, editor of the Main Street WIRE, did an exceptional job as masters of ceremony, entertaining the audience with both their Island and international perspectives. Matt and Dick served as judges for the summer-long campaign.

The inspirational Juanita Fleming, Roosevelt Island’s acclaimed jazz and gospel diva, grabbed the crowd’s attention, followed by the very talented singer-songwriter Elza Mueller-Roemer. The last act was powerful, personal, and poignant: our Island’s own Nashville/soap opera talents, Damon LaScot and Kay Story. The crowd received all three acts with great enthusiasm.

U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney was delayed in Washington, but New York State Assembly member Micah Kellner arrived from Albany, and our old and dear friend the Hon. Jessica Lappin presented an Official Proclamation from the New York City Council.

“Whereas, the Council of the City of New York is proud and pleased to join family, friends and distinguished community members in celebrating the outstanding efforts of Orphans International, and to honor Mr. Jim Luce, whose tireless efforts commitment to the lives of children around the world has been vital to countless lives, and

Whereas we are truly indebted to Orphans International, shoes contribution to the well-being of children is inestimable, we are truly fortunate to have such a dedicated organization in our City, and it is with the deepest gratitude of this legislative body that we acknowledge and applaud its outstanding efforts.”

The event raised funds for Orphans International projects around the world, specifically in Haiti, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. The Summer Campaign was a competition between the various buildings on Roosevelt Island, and was conceptualized by OI Ambassador-at-Large Ethel Romm of Rivercross.

The total figures are not yet available as checks and credit card contributions are still pouring in, but at the moment Island House raised $510, Rivercross $577, Eastwood $1,108, and Riverwalk $2,900. The two buildings raising the most funds were Westview, in the lead from the beginning with a total of $3,300, and out of the blue, Manhattan Park with $3,300. Residents of the Octagon sadly raised nothing for the summer campaign and were booed good-naturedly by the crowd. “We challenge Octagon developer Bruce Becker, who contributed to OI’s Tsunami benefit three years ago, to make this up,” stated Jim Luce with a smile.

Marlene Flom coordinated Westview’s fundraising efforts, with a soirĂ©e over the summer in the Island’s prestigious Gallery, RIVAA, and Kimberly Andino oversaw Manhattan Park’s come-from-behind efforts. Because of the unexpected tie, both women will be invited to travel to Sri Lanka to attend the opening of OI Sri Lanka this fall and report on it for the Main Street WIRE.

The event’s surprise Silent Auction was particularly successful. Coordinated by newcomer Linda Stanley of Riverwalk, a woman of extraordinary abilities, the auction offered merchandise from elite boutiques thanks to Perrine Calvet, as well as cultural artifacts from the world travels of Jim Luce.

The most popular auction items were two $500 tickets to our own Peter Yarrow benefit to be held in his home Tuesday, October 30. Only 90 tickets exist, 20 of them already sold. Peter Yarrow is best known for his part in Peter, Paul & Mary, however his global tolerance-training project for children in conflict, Operation Respect, is a particularly close match to Orphans International. The remaining tickets to his home benefit for OI are $500, $750, and $1,000. Write for an electronic invitation.

The event was sponsored by OI’s corporate sponsor, Air France, with support from Manhattan Park Management. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), and RIOC community liaison Erica Wilder supported the campaign since inception.

OI Staff played a key role in the success of the benefit. John Lee, OI Officer (Malaysia) coordinated the campaign. Interns Angelica Hagman (Sweden/U.C.S.D.), Eric Dawson (U.S./Bard), Alexis Smith-Juvelis (Venezuela/N.Y.U.), and Denise Spain (U.S./Fordham) were instrumental in its execution, along with OI NGO coordinator and publicist Margo LaZaro.

The Main Street WIRE covered the campaign from the beginning on Roosevelt Island Day in June, and many local merchants were helpful. Thanks to Nancy Rodriguez of the New York National Bank, Kaie Razhagi of Trellis Restaurant, and Cynthia Choi of Cynthia’s Nail Boutique.

Volunteers at the Sept. 15 event included a host of Island heroes: Lorrain Altman, Sharon Berman, Vicki Feinmel, Bonnie Goodman, Linda Heimer, Sheri Helstein, Arline Jacoby, Silvia Kramar, Nurit Marcus, Branko Rogic, and Nina Wintringham.

Roosevelt Islanders make up much of OI’s senior leadership as Jim Luce lives and works from Eastwood. Also, Dr. Don Hoskins of Riverwalk serves as the president of the Board of OI America, Dr. Doris Chernik of Rivercross is a member of the OI Advisory Board, Dr. Carol Hoskins of Riverwalk founded OI’s Development Committee, Dr Harriet Katz of Riverwalk chaired OI’s recent panel on global warming at the United Nations (, and Chris Godleski of Riverwalk serves as the president of OI America’s International Council.