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Hail The Hornigs! Pay It Forward At Its Best Here In The Hamptons

Originally Posted: July 19, 2011

TSW founder Tariq Alexander, guest Horace Marcell, Joan and George Hornig and supporter and actor Hawthorne James. (Lisa Tamburini)

Southampton - It is always both impressive and encouraging to see philanthropy at its best, and that is certainly the case with Joan and George Hornig of Southampton and beyond.

Angel Castro performs at TSW event on Friday. (Lisa Tamburini)

The Hornigs have graciously opened up their beautiful estate year after year to host charitable and philanthropic endeavors, and continue to do by adding additional buildings to their property to showcase artists in all mediums (dance, music, art), and to bring attention to worthy and important organizations that must certainly consider them their "Angels Unaware" - a phrase used by my mother to describe those that always help their fellowman merely because it is in their hearts to do so.

This summer thus far has been no different for these "Angels Unaware," as this past weekend they hosted both TSW (The System Within) and Lyrics and Logos for TFFT (The Foundation for Tomorrow).

TSW is the brainchild of Tariq Alexander. As a model, actor, songrwriter and producer, Alexander has created a world of networking opportunities for those who are serious about their craft. By launching TSW, Alexander gives new talent a start with the appropriate connections and industry heavyweights to help launch their careers. He also produced a movie aptly named "The System Within" where he spent six months traveling the country to seek out unknown talent. Beyond his own production company, Alexander has extended his reach even further with the creation of TSWPlace (where entertainers can create their profile and network with other entertainers), TSWMall (where entertainment and e-commerce merge), and TSW World (where members enjoy special industry networking events around the world alongside the power players - executives, producers, A&R representatives and directors - and a virtual storefront to market their product and services. Finally, Alexander has added TDWNow! - a blog featuring all things entertainment, with up to date information on accomplishments of members, as well as breaking entertainment and celebrity news.

Exhibiting artist Clay Calvert, Joan Hornig and exhibiting artist Stephanie Farr. (Lisa Tamburini)

Friday's event at the Hornigs included performances from Joan Ceasar, Zachary Ceasar, Multiecho, and Ava Pearl, among others. All talented vocalists and performers who kept guests entertained and enthralled with their talents. For more information go to www.thesystemwithin.com.

Speaking with Joan Hornig at Saturday's benefit for TFFT, or Lyrics and Logos as the event was called, she revealed "It has and always will be important to both George and I to recognize that we can use this property as a venue to showcase the tremendous skills and talents of those we are fortunate to know. I have been trying to get this barn finished for an art gallery, but decided to just clean out the garage to showcase the work of two artists" (Clay Calvert, and Stephanie Farr).

Joan Hornig and Ali Samadi share a laugh at Saturday's TFFT event. (Lisa Tamburini)

Calvert lives and works in New York City, and shows at the Mark Humphrey Gallery in Southampton. He works in oil, watercolor and drawing, and is pursuing ceramics and etching. A finalist in the 2011 Saatchi Showdown - SCOPE New York, Calvert, an abstract painter, states "Every painting is a moment in time that is realized through many different moments." Calvert referenced artist Tim Casey as an artist who has influenced him. For more information go to www.claycalvert.com.

Farr is based in California, and is originally from Missouri. She attended school in both Missouri and California, and completed an internship with commercial photographer Jim Jordan. After several years of commercial work in fashion and Hollywood, Farr states "My commercial work started to illuminate the subject that would bring me back to the path of creating art that would serve as a voice for awareness, which is sex drives consumption, and examining and showcasing the by-products of this destructive, cyclical, cultural phenomena is the basis of my work." For more information go to www.stephaniefarr.com.

Rather proud of her dealings with e-Bay, Joan went on to reveal - "These large crates that the artwork is hanging on were so expensive, that I devised a way to use them as mobile wall space as well, and by the time I was done we had reduced the cost considerably." Joan went on to state "I like to look for the message behind the artwork as well, and love the opportunity to be able to show the works of not only local artists but national and international artists also." Joan, a very well known jewelry designer, has created an idea that will have artists flocking to her on a global scale - as simple as it is brilliant - rather than an artist incurring gallery fees, hanging fees, etc., Joan concluded that if an exhibiting artist agrees to donate 30 percent of the net proceeds from a sale of work to the charity chosen by the purchaser of the work - she is willing to consider them for exhibition in the gallery space. Perhaps 'Pay it Forward' was designed by Joan as it's a great idea that helps everyone. In responding to how an artist may be considered for inclusion in an exhibition, Joan simply stated "Ask me."

Founder and Executive Director of TFFT Meghann Gunderman addresses guests at Saturday's event. (Lisa Tamburini)

Hoping to raise much needed funds, the Founder and Executive Director of TFFT, Meghann Gunderman (and yes it's two nn's), studied at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. After spending time in Tanzania, she was completely engaged by the plight of three orphan children, and now states "I have 76 children!" This 501(c)(3) organization has been in existence for seven years, and is currently funding 76 chidlren.

The facts according to Gunderman are that 46 million African children have never stepped foot in a school, and with their fifth birthday most orphans age out of the orphanages and are left homeless, TFFF undertakes to empower the future of developing nations by educating their youth. The scholarship program supports 76 orphaned and abandoned children, and reaches over 1,000 children in Tanzania with their educational outreach programs, as well as partners with orphanages and boarding schools to improve the quality of facilities, resources and instruction.

The TFFT Scholarship Program includes tuition for private boarding school, room and board, uniforms, textbooks, fees, medical care, support with emotional and educational tutoring programs, and placement in foster homes. Since TFFT covers 100 percent of each child's living expenses, the children are able to be placed in foster homes, but whenever possible the children are placed with their biological relatives. The children are also taught essential life skills with emphasis on hygiene, first aid, HIV/AIDS prevention awareness, and nutrition, along with cooking, gardening and environmental conservation lessons. TFFT also assists in the building of wells, structure repairs and raising livestock.

Deborah Cox who performed at Saturday's event with George Horning, and will soon be starring in the The Josephine Baker Story on Broadway. (Lisa Tamburini)

Gunderman met the Hornigs a few years ago and was so passionate about her work that the Hornigs not only sent one of their daughters to Tanzania to work with her, but also established The Hornig Family Learning Center. The Center in Arumeru will be the first ever interactive learning center in the Usa River region of Tanzania. The Center will create job opportunities as well as provide the first internet access, books, library, desks, and computer equipment. The Center will be staffed by teachers, librarians and technicians from the area. The goal for completion is approximately $240,000; $150,000 has been raised so far, and it was hopeful an additional $100,000 would be netted at Saturday's event.

Gunderman's most avid supporter may be her proud mother who advised "Over the past several years the impact of Meghann's involvement with the children and orphans of Tanzania has been simply remarkable."

Donation Board for TFFT Learning Center. (Lisa Tamburini)

Ali Samadi, a broker living in Manhattan has been involved with TFFT for a number of years, and has made a number of trips to Tanzania. He participated in and completed the recent 400-mile "Ride TZ" (from Mt. Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean over 10 days), and acted as Saturday's auctioneer for a short while until Joan took over to get guests into a giving mood; which followed a fashion show and VIP dinner. For more information go to www.thefoundationfortomorrow.org.

Amid all the socializing, fashion show, tasty nibbles and cocktails, and deserving thanks to supporters and organizers, while under a beautiful East End sky, perhaps the simple observation offered by Joan Hornig best expresses the complexity of wanting to do more for your fellowman: "Think and feel beyond what you can always control, be global enough to recognize and participate in issues and causes beyond your comfort zone. We are all assigned the duty to give back, and I hope what we are accomplishing here with our ideas will be an opportunity to educate others on what they might do to help this world we all live in."

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.


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