- On Saturday, July 24, MacDella Cooper
, founder of the MacDella Cooper
Foundation international charitable organization devoted to educating Liberian youth hosted its Second Annual Champions of Education Benefit with a reception at a private tent at opening day of Mercedes-Benz
Polo Challenge at Blue Star Jets
Field in Bridgehampton. Following the match a private dinner and red carpet reception for VIP guests was hosted at the residence of Erika
and Kelley Millet
Kelley and Erika Millet hosted a private dinner for the Foundation following the polo match.
Cooper is one of thousands of refugees of the Liberian Civil War. At the age of 12, her home was raided by rebels and her stepfather was captured. She and her two teenage brothers escaped their town, dodging bullets and passing dead bodies on the roadside. It took them six months to get to a refugee camp on the Ivory Coast, and another three years for their immigration papers to come through. Eventually she and her brothers were reunited with their mother in the U.S. where Cooper received her degree from The College of New Jersey. She moved to New York City
to work in fashion and modeling, with her pictures appearing in Glamour
Cooper founded the MacDella Cooper Foundation (MCF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, seven years ago, and at Saturday's reception relayed "To me and certainly to the children of Liberia an education is extremely important. When you have a 16-year-old reading at a second or third grade level it is imperative something be done to let these children know the value of, and possibility of, receiving an education."
Hamptons.com Director of Sales Vanessa Leggard, MacDella Cooper, Lisa Ackerman and Hamptons.com Sales Associate Lindsay Brown.
Further commenting on the work of the Foundation, Cooper continued "I have been so fortunate that the Foundation has supporters who have given so much to be sure that the education the children receive allows them to go forth in life armed with the tools for achievement."
Stephanie Mattera, volunteer with the Foundation, and Bridget Nelsen Monroe, Director of Volunteers for MCF.
The Millets, (who have an 18-month-old daughter) commented "It is our absolute pleasure to host a dinner for the Foundation as we are not only involved in educational causes but appreciate the tremendous work MacDella and the Foundation have devoted to these children. Kelley also has a 22-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son, and commented "We live both here and in New York City and have observed the differences in educational possibilites within just these two areas, and I have seen such changes in education in this country over a number of years, so to be able to be part of the tremendous effort to support education in another country as well is just wonderful."
Cooper continued "We have a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board of not only business people but educators as well, and the Foundation offers educational opportunities for mostly early childhood education, as well as family support. The literacy rate has increased substantially over the years, and I feel such gratitude to the Board and supporters who have helped make this happen."
About The MacDella Cooper Foundation
Melissa Basolo, Ernest Subah and Anna Schilawski enjoy the afternoon at the MCF tent.
The mission of MCF is to empower Liberian youth by raising funds to benefit the MCF Academy, which is the first tuition-free school in post-war Liberia, providing free education, room and board to 200 orphans and abandoned street children. Acclaimed architect Winka Dubbeldam
, principal of the world-renowned firm Archi-Tectonics in New York, designed the sustainable MCF Academy pro-bono
Supporters include a range of celebrities, business owners, and philanthropists, such as New York State Governor David A. Paterson
, actor Matt Dillon
, Four Seasons
co-owners Julian Niccolini
and Alex Von Bidder
, actress Michelle Trachtenberg
, co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen
, Hans Humes
of Greylock Capital
, and Ike Eckstein
from Visual World, among many others.
Additional hosts for the MCF Polo reception included Jill Zarin
, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps
, Caroline Manzo
, and Dina Manzo
, as well as Teresa Giudice
and Jacqueline Laurita
Cooper further explained, "I devote a great deal of my time to the Foundation, and have found over the years that I focus less on what brought me to start the Foundation and more towards looking forward and the future of what we can continue to accomplish - and that inspiration to want to achieve those accomplishments can come from anywhere at any time in life."
There are many who have received both an education and inspiration as a result of the hard work, determination and grace of this lovely lady, who believes in and certainly has given back to her native land.
For more information on the MacDella Cooper Foundation go to www.macdellacooper.org
Erika Millet, Jill Zarin, Caroline Manzo, MacDella Cooper, and Dina Manzo. (Marc Hall)
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.