- East End supporters of Planned Parenthood
got together in Bridgehampton on Sunday, May 24 in support of the nation's seminal non-profit organization dedicated to the defense of and support for birth control and abortion rights, comprehensive sex education and access to affordable health care. Billed as the "Picnic For Planned Parenthood," several hundred humanistic altruists gathered at the beautiful estate of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens
and Richard Ekstract
The Ellen O'Neill, English Country Antiques table.
Under the canopy of a very large tent, the festivities were accentuated by displays of designer picnic tables and picnic baskets that could be bid on as part of a silent auction. Uniquely themed, the tables ran the gambit from understated elegance to wildly opulent and eccentric. The tables were designed by Greg Turpan
, Lisa Perry
, Jonathan Adler
, Ruby Beets
, Richard Ekstract, Home James
, Richard Mishann
, Fisher Interiors with John Bjorner
and Sylvester & Co.
, among others.
The baskets were donated by local Hamptons' businesses including Loaves and Fishes, Green Thumb, Mixed Media and Jonathan Adler. Another source of fundraising at the event was a series of over-sized beach towels, framed like paintings, that were designed by local East End artists that included Alex Katz
, Jeff Koons
, Ed Ruscha
and Raymond Pettibone
The event's Masters of Ceremonies included producer/director Barry Sonnenfeld
and artist/designer Isaac Mizrahi
, characters both, whom with all good nature urged on the attendees to up the bids on the silent auction items of one-of-a-kind designer picnic tables and specialty picnic baskets. Hi-tech designer/consultant Turpan took a few turns at the microphone as well.
Event host Eileen Ekstract and Ann Feldsamtein.
This event was fun filled and well attended, yet the seriousness of the cause was not lost on the attendees. As event hostess Eileen Ekstract
explained, "When you go the website, go to the teenage page as I did just yesterday, and read the kind of questions these kids are asking, it is amazing. These teenage girls were asking things you'd think they should know, about their period, about sex. Things you would think they would know from their mothers, but they don't know them. So you see, Planned Parenthood needs our support more than ever."
The local staff of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic
, Inc., which services Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties, were thrilled to have Cecile Richards
, the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and daughter of former Texas Governor Anne Richards
, at the Bridgehampton fundraiser. When asked to comment on the impact that the economy was having on the need for the services that Planned Parenthood provides to their clients, she responded "We are seeing more women coming to us who have lost their jobs, lost their health insurance, or simply don't have the money to pay for health care anymore and we are there to meet their needs. So having this kind of outpouring of support this weekend in the Hamptons is more important this year than in any other year."
Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America with PPHP staffers Kathleen Tait, Valerie McCarthy and Annette Cumming.
Richards further indicated that Planned Parenthood has served the needs of women in the Hamptons as well. "I believe this affiliate has had a presence for 75 years. I think this chapter this year will provide health care services [in Suffolk County] to 25,000 people."
Further noting that she she saw a positive effect from this year's change in the presidential administration from Bush
to Obama, Richards stated "It is wonderful to have a President who supports women's health. He is a strong ally with Planned Parenthood. We have already seen more support for family planning and a much more logical support for sex education, so we can make sure we can prevent teen pregnancy."
If the idea of an organization like Planned Parenthood having a presence in the East End for 75 years surprises anyone - it should not. It was founded by one of the nation's first feminists and an American hero, Margaret Sanger
, who established the first birth control clinic in America in Brooklyn in 1916. She was imprisoned for 30 days, unheard of for a woman other than a prostitute at the time, and her appeal was not heard until 1918 in a court decision that essentially, thanks to this courageous woman, legalized birth control in America. The organization that we now call Planned Parenthood was founded by Sanger as the American Birth Control League in 1921.
The Maison 24 table was one of the tables offering designer picnic baskets.
In the microcosm of privilege we call the Hamptons, altruism for real human needs in a very difficult economy thankfully coexists with our understandable concern for the environment and the creatures that inhabit it. No better exemplified than by the turn-out for the Ekstract hosted event.
For further information go to www.pphp.org.
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com