The stories Sabrina Martin, Director of Development and Communications for The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, told me were almost too much to bear. "Everything you see in the news," Martin told us, "we are taking care of those children here at the NYSPCC." Children who were starving because their parents had locked the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator. A nine-year-old boy sexually abusing his six year old sister -- mimicking what his father was doing to him. Two little girls who watched their father murder their mother, as she was driving them to school. Children dying because their parents were denying them medical treatment. And those are stories that the media ignored.
Their "Protecting Kids First" black tie gala at the Plaza honored child advocates John and Margo Catsimatidis
and Fox News
Channel (FNC) co-host of "The Five," Kimberly Guilfoyle
. Deborah Norville
emceed and co-chaired with husband Karl G. Wellner, Amanda and Neil Friedman
, Joan Granlund
, Penny Grant
, MD, Susan Shin
, Dino A. Trevisani, Cathy and Mark S. Weiss
Honoree Kimbery Guilfoyle with Cheryl Casone. (Photo: Annie Watt)
"We are the world's first child protection agency founded here, in Manhattan in 1875," Martin explained. "Today we are working to treat children who have suffered the most severe cases of abuse. We help them heal, repair families and set them on a brighter path for the rest of their lives. One example is our therapeutic supervised visitation program, where, if the child is not able to have a meaningful relationship with one parent, because of a history of abuse or violence between the parents, we allow that parent to see the child in a safe setting, to repair their bonds in the company of a clinician."
One of the professionals on the frontlines of child abuse is Dr. Penny Grant
, whose own social network includes Victor De Souza
, who designed her gown, and NBC
4 weekend co-anchor, David Ushery, who also hosts two New York Nonstop shows. "I met Penny at a Hale House
event," he told us. "When police respond to child abuse cases, they go to Penny Grant immediately."
Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner. (Photo: Annie Watt)
That's because Dr. Grant's pediatric specialty is child abuse. She left a private practice to work for a child advocacy center in the Bronx. "I've been trained to diagnose child abuse and neglect," she told us. "The hardest thing we see are the mom's who were victims themselves at a time when it was not OK to talk about it." Because they never got help, they've ended up with men who perpetuate the cycle. "It's prevalent everywhere," Dr. Grant said. "But with proper therapy, we can make a difference."
Looking around the room, I could see many people I knew Dr. Grant had brought to the party. "I've been working pretty hard on this for the past six months," she admitted.
Other boldfaced attendees included: David Stack
(President, Board of Directors) and Sarah Stack
, Elizabeth Mayhew
and Timothy Mayhew, Betsy Bartlett
and Jones Yorke, Jean Shafiroff
, Dr. Mary L. Pulido
(Executive Director), Susanne Schalin
, Carol Pessin, Dawne Marie Grannum
, Ramona Singer
and Mario Singer
, Spiros Milonas, Emilie Roy Corey, Joy Marks
, Marc Leder
, Tatiana Perkin and Thorne Perkin
, Alison Minton
, Michel Witmer
, Jon Kurpis and Elizabeth Kurpis, Elizabeth Tam (the reigning Miss New York United States), Valesca Guerrand-Hermes
, Marc Weill, and designer Viktor Luna
John Catsimatidis and Margo Catsimatidis. (Photo: Annie Watt)