- Even the eternally optimistic Time for Teens founder Laraine Gordon
confessed to more than a little concern about holding the group's annual Spring Fundraiser on May 9 with times being so tough for many families in the area. She needn't have worried as once again the community rallied to her call and was there to back her vision of helping teens with the grieving process when they have lost a loved one.
Time For Teens founder Laraine Gordon and husband Tom Holdsworth welcomed guests.
A very pleased and pleasantly surprised Gordon with her very supportive husband Tom Holdsworth
at her side, said, "Each year we have steadily grown in small increments and I'm thrilled that before we opened we already had over 100 tickets sold and scores of reservations." From the moment they threw open the doors to Jean Mackenzie Koster's
handsomely renovated Four Seasons
Catering (the former John Duck) there was a steady stream of guests purchasing tickets and scooping up handfuls of tickets for the Chinese Auction.
Gordon, a licensed clinical social worker, who has had a practice in Southampton for over 20 years, founded the innovative program which is dedicated to providing teenagers ages 12 through 17 with a sensitive, caring, and creative environment for healing through education and counseling. Each summer the organization holds a week-long bereavement camp on Shelter Island filled with activities that help heal and strengthen resilience through creativity, psychodrama, connection communication, and caring. In addition to the bereavement camp program, Gordon holds workshops and seminars for the kids throughout the year.
Brenda Seimer Scheider and daughter Mollie Scheider.
While guests sipped cocktails and munched on hors d'oeuvres from Four Seasons master chefs, they pored over the many silent auction prizes and filled the bags for the Chinese Auction with red tickets. It was clear by the number of offerings from golf gear baskets to spa and salon treatments to baskets of wine, the business community did not turn their back on the organization. Gordon explained the reason, "the locals clearly see it as a program that directly benefits East End kids - sometimes theirs - sometimes a friend's - so they are very generous."
The success of Gordon's program was evident throughout the rooms as numerous families and their children who had participated in the program were on hand to support Time for Teens. Brenda Seimer Scheider
widow of actor Roy Scheider
was there with daughter Mollie
who had participated in the program and will graduate this June from the Hayground School
Also praising the program were a number of members of the Kirk family. Allanah Kirk
who lost her husband several years ago had all four of her sons, alumni of the camp and now fully grown, by her side. She was especially thrilled that her boys had stayed so involved with Time for Teens long after they had first attended the camp. Sons Brendan
had even created a short film while involved with the camp which will be shown at this year's Hamptons International Film Festival
Tom Holdsworth and Paul Gordon, the top two volunteers.
One whom Gordon praised profusely was Jude Freder-Wolf
who consulted with Gordon on the therapy techniques that have been incorporated into the camp program. Later Freder-Wolf spoke about the issue saying, "It's deep and meaningful and truly relates to where they are. The kids work hard and dig really deep. We cry, we laugh and we work through the pain".
The idea for Time for Teens came from Gordon's counseling work with local families and her own life experience. "I lost my sister when I was a teenager. She was not just my sister - she was my best friend. My friends all my own age didn't know what to say to me or how to offer me help. I learned how important it was to have someone from outside your circle and family who are all trying at the same time to keep their heads above water."
Vicky Cuccia, Denise Le Blanc, Ann Cuccia are all long-time supporters of the organization.
During a break from the dancing, Gordon took to the microphone to give some thank-yous in particular to Dorothy Lichtenstein
who had underwritten the catering for the evening and Suffolk County legislator Jay Schneiderman
who made sure every year that the county budget had a line for Time For Teens. Saving the big news for last, Gordon told the crowd about a very real new source of funding, "Congressman Tim Bishop
has put in an earmark for Time for Teens for a $100,000 grant to help us expand the program and we hope it will go through." This was received with thunderous applause by the crowd - many of whom were hoping to have their children participate in the program or return for another session.
Thanks to the balmy weather, guests were able to take full use of the patio overlooking the beautifully landscaped property on Prospect Street. Taking in the lovely setting were Eileen Higgins
and her brother-in-law Bill Higgins
who had come in from Setauket at the urging of friends to meet Gordon and learn about the summer camp. Eileen had recently lost her husband and was hopeful that Time for Teens might be able to help her children. With some luck and the voice of Tim Bishop there is hope.
Also there to laud Gordon were many members from the medical and social services communities including Dr. Gaylord Hoffert
, Priscilla Egan
of Southampton Hospital
and Elizabeth Curran
a nurse practitioner in psychiatry with St. Mary's Hospital who volunteers with the organization.
Special thanks must go to Jean Mackenzie Koster
, Linda Marie Paul
and all the staff of Four Seasons and the many generous individuals and businesses who created a very special evening for a very important community program.