- For the fifteenth year artists in the East End have used their talents to support the single most important agency in the region dealing with domestic violence, The Retreat
Executive Director Jeff Friedman, Development Director Jennifer Palmer and MC Gina Glickman surround event host Shannen Doherty.
On June 26 The Retreat held its 15th Annual Artist Against Abuse Gala, an event that has raised over $1 million in support of the East End's only agency whose sole mission is to address domestic violence and provides the area's only domestic violence hotline and residential shelter, which last year alone gave sanctuary to 111 women and children.
This year's host was actress/writer/director/producer Shannen Doherty
and more than a celebrity face lending her fame to a charitable event, she clearly is an informed and passionate advocate against domestic violence and aware of the
extraordinary work The Retreat is doing, "It is the fact that it is all inclusive, it is counseling, it is a 24 hour hotline, it is a shelter for abused women and abused children. I have worked with different organizations for abused children before all around the country. Hearing about something like this when I come to New York all the time and I am in the Hamptons all the time, I felt like it was something that I had to bring awareness to because we have such a large domestic abuse problem in this country and in this world. I love the fact that it is [The Retreat] such a well run organization"
Doherty further elaborated, "The 24 hour hotline is critical, but most importantly it is about the counseling. You can take people in, but you still have to give them counseling, you still have to find out the details, you still have to help them through those moments because so many emotions are going on and low self-esteem and 'Why did this person do this to me?' Without the counseling you are just going to repeat the pattern and repeat the behavior. The Retreat does that, they put people back on the road in a healthy manner."
Hundreds of supporters packed the Ross School gymnasium for the 15th Annual Artists Against Abuse Gala.
There is a direct correlation between economic hardship and the proliferation of domestic violence, even in an area as affluent as the Hamptons. The Retreat Executive Director Jeffrey A. Friedman
explained, "Our agency feels the downturn in the economy more dramatically than some of the other non-profits and that is because when the economy is bad we have an increase in people requesting our services. Specifically we have seen a 56 percent increase in request for services over the last 12 month period."
Countess LuAnn de Lesseps at The Retreat's Artists Against Abuse Gala cocktail party.
I noted Doherty's profound understanding of the issues at hand and Friedman said, "When celebrities take a stand against domestic violence like Shannen is tonight and stand side-by-side with The Retreat it really does shine a spotlight on what we are doing and raises awareness to new levels in the community and helps us reach people we might not be able to without partners and friends like Shannen."
Although dealing with a very serious issue, the annual Artist Against Abuse Gala is a grand and fun affair and this year proved to be no different. The Ross School gymnasium was transformed into a lemon and lime ballroom by Brides Magazine
Style Editor Maria McBride
and in a departure from the usual painted plates donated for the event's silent auction, this year the featured art were 9 inch x 12 inch canvases by artists like Louise Bourgeois
, James Croak
, April Gornik
and Frank Stella
, to name but a few.
During the pre-dinner cocktail party featuring the wines of Channing Daughters
Vineyard and specialty cocktails by Crop Vodka, guests perused both the silent auction canvases and other larger pieces of artwork that would be part of the evening's live auction. Beth Ostrosky Stern
and Keith Hernandez
attended the gala and although not in attendance for the entire event, Real Housewife Countess LuAnn de Lesseps
did drop in on the cocktail hour.
Thirteen-year-old altruist and role model for his generation Jordan Bacher.
Following the cocktail hour, guests took their seats as Mistress of Ceremonies Gina Glickman
navigated the event's festivities which included an opening address by Friedman, a powerful video presentation about domestic violence and the work of The Retreat and the annual Hope Awards presentation with Board President Richard Demato
, Yvonne Lieblein
, Josh Horton
and Jordan Bacher
as this year's honorees.
Glickman did double duty as both MC and reporter interviewing several attendees along the way. I got her to slow down for a moment and speak to me, "I think it is so crucial to have people like you and people like me support these types of events, to have the local press give exposure to small organizations like this that serve the East End. I am so honored to be able to be in the middle of it, to not only report on it but to give back. It means the world to me to be able to report on it, but it means even more to be part of it."
One young man who was very much a part of the evening's event was 13-year-old Jordan Bacher
. With the help of his mother Miche Bacher
, who owns Sacred Sweets in Greenport, Bacher organized a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner for Retreat clients this past November. This extraordinary young altruist also made a donation to The Retreat of $1,000 at the event that he personally set aside from his Bar Mitzvah gift money. Bacher is proof that heroes come in all ages and sizes.
Art lovers browsing the 9 inch x 12 inch canvas artist contributions to this year's gala.
Our hostess Doherty and her companion Kurt Iswarienko
should be commended for their serious attention to the issue at hand as both were intently engaged in the video presentation, Bacher's acknowledgement, the remarks and awards ceremony, not always the case at celebrity driven events.
During our conversation Doherty commented on the false perception that abuse does not happen in an area as affluent as the Hamptons. Perhaps her answer best sums up both the need and purpose of The Retreat and the importance of the event, "Not all of the East End is a privileged area, not all of it is ritzy large houses. But it doesn't matter if you come from an affluent area or not, domestic abuse is domestic abuse and there is no excuse for it either way. It doesn't matter if you are a billionaire, if you are abusing your child and your wife it is unacceptable!"
For more information and to see how you can help go to www.theretreatinc.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