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Cicely Tyson, David Dinkins, And Alicia Bythewood Honor 200 Years Of NYC Mission Society

Originally Posted: January 04, 2013

Lee Fryd

Alicia Bythewood, Lim Riley, Brie Bythewood. (Photo: Annie Watt)

Jean Shafiroff, designer b Michael, and icon Cicely Tyson. (Photo: Annie Watt)

"I love that there is an organization that has stood the test of time," Sag Harbor philanthropist Alicia Bythewood told us of the New York City Mission Society. "They're here 200 years. That's what tonight is about." I caught up with her between the smoked salmon appetizer and filet mignon dinner at the NYC Mission Society's 200th Anniversary Celebration at the Pierre Hotel New York. Bythewood was chairing the evening with Lloyd W. Brown II, Stanley Rumbough and Jean Shafiroff. Reverend Dr Calvin O. Butts III and Dina Merrill Hartley were Honorary Chairs; former New York Mayor David N. Dinkins and Alexis E. Thomas, Vice Chairs. Bill Ritter emceed the evening which honored Kathryn C. Chenault, Esq. and Cicely Tyson. The evening also gave a nod to Citibank, NA and City Hall, also sharing their 200th birthday in 2012.

Bythewood, a philanthropist who fundraises for the Apollo Theater, as well as many Hamptons charities, also loves that NYC Mission Society "services the underprivileged communities in Harlem, which is very close to everyone in New York's heart because of Harlem, the renaissance and everything that Harlem stands for." Does anyone doubt Harlem is now "hip"? Even Southampton Inn owner Dede Gotthelf Moan lives there. Like most of us, Bythewood also has friends who moved uptown, for "the architecture, the history, just the mood of Harlem." The society's Minisink Townhouse, on E. 143rd Lenox, is the hub of their community outreach programs. "It's on the original footprint of the Cotton Club," Bythewood realized. "That sent chills up my spine."

Bill Ritter and former New York Mayor David N. Dinkins. (Photo: Annie Watt)

Bythewood joined the famed Sag Harbor African American waterfront community, Azurest -- a wordplay on "As You Rest" -- in 1970 when her new husband brought her to his family vacation home. They come year round. Weekends in the winter often feature "pot luck dinners" with their friends. "My husband and I both cook. I love soups and stews so I do that."

Being a little of a foodie, we asked Bythewood for an easy recipe. "My yellow pepper soup," she replied without hesitation. "I use it in the summer and winter. Chilled or hot, it's just outstanding." Basically, it's sauteed onions and yellow pepper, simmered in stock, then blended. Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar stirred in "gives it that twang at the end. Toast up some crusty bread with it. It's so easy and it stores well."

And that, dear readers, is a full service column.

Kathryn Chenault and Star Jones. (Photo: Annie Watt)

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