“We have to be advocates for children,” Kelly Rutherford told Hamptons.com as we walked into one of Manhattan’s most elegant rooms in the Metropolitan Club for The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC). “Children don’t vote. They don’t pay taxes,” the actress noted. “It’s very important that we fight for children’s rights and their protection — always.” It was a poignant reminder of Rutherford’s own long-running battle to gain custody of her two children, living with their father in Monaco. “I’m a big advocate for mothers and children,” she simply says, “for many reasons.”
“It’s my heart,” says Dr. Penny Grant, a child pediatrician who dealt with abused kids and now devotes much of her energies to NYSPCC. “I had been referencing them since the 90s, when I first saw Mary Ellen’s dress. It looked like it was worn by an eight-year-old but she was 11 when she wore it. And it was in rags.”
Mary Ellen was the eight-year-old girl whose father left her in the care of a foster mother to fight for the Union in the Civil War. “He thought he had given her to a nice person,” the evening’s host, Deborah Norville recounted. “He had not. This woman beat this little girl within an inch of her life. Bloodied and with a ragged dress she came to the attention of two men who were, funnily enough, attorneys who were involved with the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If what had been done to this little girl had been done to a dog it would have been illegal, but because she was a child it wasn’t.” Thus was born the first legislation to protect children using the animal cruelty guides.
The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is the oldest service to protect children and strengthen families through mental health, legal and social services. “We accept cases of children that are so complicated and challenging, that other providers turn them away, or refer them to us,” explained Dr. Mary Pulido, Executive Director of The NYSPCC, during the program. “And, because we are achieving amazing results, everyone wants to know how we do it. We are constantly receiving requests for training from other providers throughout the United States. So not only is your support helping children here in New York City, but it’s helping children throughout the United States.”
They also throw an excellent dinner party. “We try to take it up a notch,” said Dr. Grant, “making it a wine and food tasting that stands on its own.” When was the last time you sipped Cheateauneuf-du-Pape and Barolo and ate a two star meal at a charity affair? The latter was prepared by Chef Emma Bengtsson, Executive Chef of Aquavit, winner of two stars in The Michelin Guide New York City 2016. Chef Bengtsson’s cuisine was paired with wines donated by Robert Kacher Selections, which represents small, boutique vineyards throughout France.
The evening’s Chairs included David and Sarah Stack, and Karl Wellner and Deborah Norville. Maarit and Thomas Glocer, and Tania Higgins served as Co-Chairs, while Vice-Chairs included Lauren Cramer, Neil and Amanda Friedman, Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry, Jr., Joan Granlund, Penny Grant M.D., Valesca Guerrand-Hermes, Holly Kelly and Andrew Lipsky, The New York Yankees, M.David Sherill and Mary Alice Sherill, Mark S. Weiss. David Stack is the President of the NYSPCC Board of Directors.
Proceeds from the event benefit The NYSPCC’s Trauma Recovery Program. The Trauma Recovery Program provides free mental health treatment for children who have experienced traumatic events, such as physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and family violence.
Other attendees included David and Sarah Stack, Karl Wellner and Deborah Norville, Dr. Mary Pulido, Tania Higgins, Lauren Cramer, Neil and Amanda Friedman, Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge T. Gerry, Jr., Valesca Guerrand-Hermes, Holly Kelly and Andrew Lipsky, M.David Sherill and Mary Alice Sherill, Mark S. Weiss, Chef Emma Bengtsson (Aquavit), Hakan Swahn (Aquavit), Elizabeth Mayhew, Tatiana and Thorne Perkin, Alexandra and Edward Shaheen, Steve and Linda Forrester, Kimberly Guilfoyle (Fox News), Karen Sorbo (Auctioneer), John and Christy Mack, Rob and Betsy Pitts, Jennifer Creel, Christine Schwarzman, Spiros and Antonia Milonas, Jean Shafiroff, Frederick Anderson, Nicole Hanley Mellon (designer), Alberto and Graciela Bitar, Teddy and Kathy Wong, Diandra di Morrell Douglas, Diana Hsu, Andrea Greeven Douzet, Victor De Souza (designer), Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, Nicole DiCocco, Ide and David Dangoor, Randi Schatz, Robin Cofer, Lauren Lawrence, Peter Georgiopoulos and Kara Young.
For more information, visit www.nyspcc.org.