In 2009, the "no kill" Southampton Animal Shelter, as Chuck Scarborough put it, "was about to be euthanized itself." An underwriting "angel" stepped in to save it. Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons founder Sony Schotland and others came on board, and the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation (SASF) became a privately funded, community charity. Their first event: a charming cocktail party at a beautiful residence. Then came Jean Shafiroff. A fundraising force, Jean turned that summer soiree into a glamorous gala, and raised $4 million for the shelter since then.
Honoree Sony Schotland. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)
"She has chaired this event five times," Scarborough told Unconditional Love Gala
attendees. "The first time she was involved in the shelter she increased fundraising by a factor of about four. She quadrupled it! The fundraising has grown every single year since under her leadership. And we are very, very grateful for her devotion to the shelter and to animal causes. It's fair to say that thousands of animals owe their lives to Jean and Sony."
Whether it's the rescue pit bulls that Jean and husband Marty Shafiroff have brought into their home, loved and pampered, or the Global Strays charity, daughter Elizabeth co-founded with Lindsey Spielfogal to help rescue animals in underdeveloped countries, Jean gives her all to advocate for the animals who cannot advocate for themselves. Jean likes to reference Mahatma Gandhi's saying: "You can judge a nation by the way it treats its animals."
SASF provides a comfortable home for dogs like Bubbles, who strode out for his close up while Scarborough told his story. Bubbles was a pit who was returned and reclaimed five months later by the same owner to give to a friend - who lost the dog. A month later Bubbles returned as a lost stray, and was adopted by another family. They returned the dog a year and a half later, when they had their first baby. What was wrong with Bubbles? Nothing. He deserves a home.
"Nothing happens in a vacuum," Jean said. "Everything that has transpired at this shelter has been a team effort. Sony is not only one of the founders of this shelter but also a founder of ARF in the Hamptons. That is really extraordinary. And she is the loveliest woman on the face of this planet."
Jean also lauded Founder Emeritus Susan Allen, President Jonathan McCann, Executive Director Jerry Rosenthal, Executive VP Clifton Knight Esq., Brigid Fitzgerald, Auction Chairs Ellen Scarborough and Wendy Wegner, Junior Group leader and Adoptions Director Kate McEntee and MC Chuck Scarborough - who gives his wholehearted support year after year.
Dorothy Frankel and Jerry Rosenthal, SASF Executive Director. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)
U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney came out to support Shafiroff. Other attendees included Beth Stern, Jill Rappaport, Howard Lorber, John Catsimatidis, Jean Remmel Little, Deborah Hearst, Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving and his wife Ellen, Leesa Rowland and Larry Wohl, former Mayor Mark Epley and his wife Marianne, Martin Shafiroff, Sandra McConnell, Steve Bernstein, Jay Schneiderman - Southampton Township Supervisor, June Jaffee - Director of the Muriel Siebert Foundation, and Julie Ratner.
Andrea and Alex Douzet, Missy Hargraves, Antonella Bertello, Marcy Warren, Ellen Ward Scarborough, Mollie Ruprecht Acquavella, and Michael Katz served as Event chairman with Katie McEntee, Elizabeth Shafiroff, Kingsley Crawford, Pamela Suskind, Sarah Vacchino, and Merritt Piro as Junior co-chairs.
Galagoers noshed on dinner by Pinch Food Design and enjoyed music by Chris Norton and his band.
Southampton Animal Shetler is located at 102 Old Riverhead Road West, Hampton Bays. For more information, call 631-728-7387 or visit southamptonanimalshelter.com.