Jean Mackenzie and Rose Dios. (John Wegorzewski)
- You might call it stacking the odds, or more accurately, smart fundraising when Jean Mackenzie
joined forces with Rose
and John Dios
to host a joint Casino Night in 2009 to benefit their not-for-profit charities - the Paul Koster
Memorial Benefit and the Have A Heart Community Trust.
Since then, the event has grown to be one of the most anticipated benefits of early spring and has doubled in size.
On Saturday, March 24, this year's theme "Viva Las Vegas" brought the excitement of The Strip to Seasons of Southampton
, and from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., partygoers gambled for two good causes that directly benefit the community.
The Paul Koster Memorial Benefit is devoted to helping people in the community achieve success in reaching their goals of furthering their education by assisting select organizations and community service programs, as well as awarding scholarships to Southampton High School graduates.
Artist Paton Miller selling Chinese Auction tickets. (John Wegorzewski).
, for whom the benefit is named, was known locally as The Clamman before his untimely death. Koster was an avid supporter of local sports teams who are aided by the Southampton Youth Association
. A beloved local figure, Koster could always be found on the sidelines cheering for the children and providing food for the team's year-end parties. His wife, Jean Mackenzie, and daughter Mackenzie Koster
have continued to honor him with the gala each year.
The mission of Have A Heart is to provide direct relief to East End residents in times of individual and/or family crisis. A request for "emergency" funding, from either them or one of their partner organizations, the individual/family seeking assistance or an interested third party, is made to Have A Heart in the form of a Grant Request Application (GRA). Rose and John Dios were among the group's original founders.
Seasons of Southampton provided a lavish hors d'oeuvres buffet complete with steam ship rounds of beef and an open bar while guests enjoyed a full evening of colorful and exciting entertainment for a good cause. With the purchase of each ticket for $60, guests received $100 worth of casino chips to try their luck, many choose to participate in the "Texas Hold 'Em" tournament while still others bid on the fabulous items during the Chinese Auction, or partook in the 50/50 Raffle. Many chose to shop the silent auction featuring numerous works of art and sports memorabilia provided by RSI Charity Auctions.
Ivy Dressler, Sonia Gemayel, Karen Ruggiero and Bianka Lefferts. (John Wegorzewski).