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Midsummer Gala: Jean Shafiroff and Audrey Gruss Give Back To Southampton Hospital

Lee Fryd

Chair's with flair - Jean Shafiroff and Audrey Gruss are simply aqua for Southampton Hospital. (Photo: PatrickMcMullan.com)

Two philanthropic forces, Jean Shafiroff and Audrey Gruss, threw their formidable talents behind the Southampton Hospital Summer Party that attracted nearly 800, as Benefit and Honorary Chairs.

Audrey, who with her husband, donated $5 million to create the Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart and Stroke Center, took an unusually hands-on approach to her post as Honorary Chair. "I wanted very much to be involved," she told Hamptons.com. "I was thrilled Jean was the Chair because of her track record of raising money. And, with my creative director background, I'm known for doing unusual fun events." Gruss co-founded Terme de Saturnia and was Director of Advertising and Creative Services Worldwide at Elizabeth Arden.

Gruss suggested the 'Back to the Future' theme, and helped oversee the invite design. She brought in Art Southampton's Nick Korniloff, who kept the art fair's air conditioned tents on the Elks Club grounds open a few days longer for the affair, and famed designer Anthony Todd who created a futuristic vision. Also thinking of the future, Gruss initiated a Junior's after party. They enjoyed the dessert buffet knowing they could dance it off there and then.

Big ticket holders danced off Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs' dinner to the Alex Donner Orchestra. Chuck Scarborough once again served as an amicable emcee.

Gruss, who studied pre med at Tuft's, can rattle off the intricate components of the cardio vascular center she and her husband are donating. The hospital will be able to recruit a top endovascular name for the state of the art diagnostic and surgical suite. "Heart and stroke, the number one killers for people over 50, has to be treated on an immediate basis," she told us. "It's not enough to stabilize and get us to Stony Brook. There's no reason with the proper facility and proper surgeons that we can't do this right at Southampton Hospital. (Hospital President and CEO) Robert Chaloner says we will save lives."

Audrey says she and her husband are grateful for their years in the Hamptons. "It's made a great contribution to our lives. And this is where we thought we could give back to the community."

Shafiroff is equally passionate about caring for people. This is her third year chairing, breaking records for fundraising with her gentle approach. "You can't have a community without a good hospital or health care," she said. To do so she incentivizes donors with private parties throughout the year and with Vice Chair recognition. Although she's chairing six benefits in the upcoming year, Jean puts such an effort into the hospital gala, midsummer often finds her exhausted. Selling tables, assembling the benefit committee, and corporate sponsors: "That's a lot of hard work," says Jean, who never loses sight of the good it will do.

Heading Jean's committee this year: Chairman's Council Circle: Lise and Michael Evans, Jenny and John Paulson, and Ingeborg and Ira Rennert. Chairman's council: former Chair Jean Remmell FitzSimmons and Howard Lorber. Corporate Chairs: Sequin, Barclays, Allen & Co., and Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Raffle and Silent Auction Chairs: Andrea Greeven Douzet, Cheri Kaufman (who got pal Larry King involved) and Nancy Jane Loewy. Journal Chairs: Sharon Kerr and Elyn Kronemeyer and Gift Bag Chair: Raya Keis Knight. Underwriting Chair: Deborah Tanger.

"It's like a job," said Shafiroff, who also dresses the part, helping keep much needed glamour alive out here. "But I enjoy the process. And it's a great honor. To be in a position to give back both my time and resources is a great blessing. In this country the spirit of giving back is strong and we'd like to see it stronger."

The night raised 1.8 million dollars to benefit The Jenny and John Paulson Emergency Department and The Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart and Stroke Center.


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