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Community Fundraisers With Heart

Originally Posted: October 09, 2008

It began with seven Hamptons women chatting about philanthropy, but it didn't end with talking. Now they are walking too with a new not-for-profit organization already making strides in the community - Women In The Hamptons Care, or WITH Care, is a new group that strives to help women and families on the East End.

WITH Care Founders - Lois Beekman Oliveira, Delaney Oser, Darra Goldstein, Kim
Stengel, Jennifer McLauchlen, Carol Price, and Giny Poveromo. Photo by Sheila
Cosgrove Baylis

The organization's founders, Lois Beekman Oliveira, Delaney Oser, Darra Goldstein, Kim Stengel, Jennifer McLauchlen, Carol Price, and Giny Poveromo felt that too much of the money raised in the Hamptons left the area, with almost nothing remaining for the needs of the community. "So many charities take money out of the Hamptons while using its infrastructure," said Beekman Oliveira. To skeptics who say there is little need in this wealthy area, Oser argued, "There's a misconception that the Hamptons doesn't have any families in need. At the end of the day, the year-round community is a community like anywhere else."

The group's first fundraiser was on Friday night at Beekman Oliveira's home, where they garnered 48 new members. The group has already raised enough money to sponsor a needy family, which was chosen with the help of the Southampton Fork Breast Health Coalition. A single mother with stage-four breast cancer, mounting debt, and medical bills will receive a full Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings, decorations, and gifts.

Through an already existing not-for-profit, WITH Care plans to donate 25 percent of what it raises to individual families in need of assistance, 25 percent to local children's organizations, 25 percent to women's health, and 25 percent to member education.

WITH Care members will benefit from lectures and classes, such as a self-defense course. Membership is the cornerstone of the organization, and the founders see the intermingling of women of all ages and backgrounds to be an essential piece of WITH Care's success. Also important is teaching philanthropy to the next generation. "We want our kids to understand what giving is really about," Oser said.

When nay-sayers told them that starting a new non-profit was a bad idea in the midst of a financial crisis, Beekman Oliveira disagreed. "That's when you start," she said. "That's when charities and families are struggling and going to need help."

Fishstock founder Gene Hamilton at the Gann Road docks for Fishstock 2008.
Photo by Eileen Casey

Switching gears and heading for the docks, the commercial dock off Gann Road in the Springs to be exact, for Fishstock 2008 on Saturday. Coordinated and produced by Montauk resident and local musician and songwriter, Gene Hamilton, all proceeds will go to the East Hampton Town Hatchery, Shellfish and Scallop Restoration Funds. The event was also sponsored by East Hampton Point, Bostwick's, The Harbor Bistro, and Michael's Restaurant.

At $30 a ticket for adults, attendees were treated to performances by many well-known and local favorite bands and musicians, including Haim Mizrahi and his band of drummers, Mamalee Rose & Friends (Lee Lawlor and daughter Rose Lawler with their band), Gene Hamilton and The Island Blues Band, and concluded with The Chuck and Jake Experience (Chuck Wadd and Jacob Hamilton). All performers were ably assisted by the talents of John Havlicek of Crossroads Music who operated the soundboard.

Hamilton stated that, "I have always been interested in conservation efforts, and this event is to promote local musicians as well as raise funds for a local worthy cause." Hamilton elaborated that he founded Fishstock in 1998, and held three events up to 2000 - Saturday's event was the fourth concert. The most successful year to date was $3,340 raised in the event's third year in 2000.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages were provided by Claws on Wheels, with a variety of seafood delights, including mussels, scallops, shrimp, and delicious clams shucked on site by one of the co-owners Michael Bunce. Bunce has owned the business since 1996 with partner Bruce Sasso. While Gus Thomas manned the grill for hamburgers, hot dogs, and fish sandwiches, the beautiful weather contributed to an entertaining afternoon for this undertaking which was postponed due to weather from its original date of Sept. 27.

A disappointing turn-out did nothing to hamper the spirit of the performers who treated the audience to lively, foot-stomping rock 'n roll, R&B, blues and island flavored music. Seen enjoying themselves with sated appetites in the warm weather and beautiful location were Hamilton's family members Carol Bodine (who sang back-up for the first time with her brother and his band), Linda Hamilton and 12-year-old Rebecca Hamilton-Levi, Jeanette Goodstein and Jack Dougherty, John Wood and Gerry Nelson, Sheila Bath and Kim Xenakis, as well as David Miller, Victoria VanVlaanderen, Clara Korsberg, and Dean DeMar.

It seemed as if half the East End turned out at some point on Sunday for the Elks sponsored benefit for the family of Andrew Reister who was brutally murdered while handling security at Southampton Publick House. The event brought literally hundreds of folks with kids in tow for a great day of bouncing on castles, rolling in the hay, face painting, marching bands, pipe and drum corps, dancing to the tunes of Vivian and The Merry Makers, and delectable food from virtually all our local restaurants, delis and caterers.

Jimmy Reister and Millie Fellingham at the Andre Reister Benefit at the Elks Lodge.
Photo by John Wegorzewski

It was a truly astounding display of community support for a family beset by tragedy and almost every business in the surrounding villages and hamlets, local firemen, police officers, ambulance volunteers, you name it, participated thanks to the leadership of the Elks of which both Andrew and his brother Jimmy Reister were members. As anyone in the town knows, The Elks have an exemplary record of being there in times of need and this time they all rolled up their sleeves to put on the biggest lawn party of this year with scores of volunteers touched by the sad event.

A highlight on the dining scene were the huge whole pigs, three in all, being roasted to perfection by Pitmaster Gino Weiss who, when not stoking the fire, drives for Home Town Taxi. The spicy pork, tangy baked beans, and the last and best roasted corn-on-the-cob of the season were all spectacular! Ditto the big groaning Italian buffet in the Main Tent. Abbondanza!

While the young ones vied for bragging rights of who could bounce higher, parents strolled through the enormous Chinese Auction with a super display of gift baskets, many made by The Hampton Bays Mothers Association, tailgate party fixings and gift certificates from over 50 local businesses. No surprise in these tough economic times of soaring energy prices that several $200 gift certificates from Berkoski Oil and others from Shell Gas Station were hotly sought after prizes.

Elks leaders Tim Daily and Dan Lachcik had rousted up plenty of volunteers to tend bar, serve up endless platters of goodies and keep the grounds clean in the process. No small feat this.

Such was the support it even extended to providing transport to and from the event for folks. Home Town Taxi and several of its drivers including Mike Dicecci shuttled people to and from their homes all day from 12 noon to 12 midnight for free! At the end of the day, one could only feel grateful and proud to live in such a compassionate and caring community. Three cheers for everyone who gave of their time and money to help a neighbor in need.

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