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Supporters Rally At The CMEE Snowball

Originally Posted: March 25, 2009

Edward Callaghan

Stephen Long and Eliza Rand at the Snow Ball. Photos by John Wegorzewski

Southampton - Thanks to the efforts of a small group of loyal supporters who wanted to chase away the winter blues and help their favorite children's organization, The Children's Museum of the East End (CMEE) held its first annual "Snow Ball," an evening of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, DJ and dancing at 75 Main to benefit the museum which had weathered some hard times this last year like many of our local not-for-profits.

But the mood was very upbeat as prime organizer Karen Gluck and her dynamic working committee of friends Darra Goldstein, Jill Andrea, Maria Crolito, Kim Wei, Jeanine Nugent, and Jennie Magaro welcomed some 100 guests to the popular Southampton eatery.

Stephen Long, CMEE Executive Director, was delighted with the community response saying, "Karen came to me and said what can I do to help and she immediately mobilized her friends and the concept came together very quickly thanks to the fast response of the community. Within days David Nugent had designed the invitations and the posters. Everyone rallied."

Scanning the laughing crowd enjoying themselves, it was hard to believe how bleak the picture was for CMEE less than a year ago. Long noted somewhat wryly,"We're six months ahead of everybody else. Last tear we had to cut everywhere yet we were able to stay on track and still maintain our mission. Our plan worked and in November and December we saw our highest number of paid admissions in our history."

Long told us, despite the fact that the museum had to cut back its huge summer gala to a backyard cocktail party on the Museum's grounds, they were still able to retain a strong group of supporters that helped them over the hump. Looking ahead Long is "optimistic - we're in a very good place moving forward." Clearly, this is great news for the hundreds of families who rely on CMEE as a unique learning environment for their children while serving also as a community center.

Echoing his sentiments Lucy Muhlfeld, President of the Board, stated, "Where others organizations are just going through the agony of cutbacks, we are now in a good place and actually expanding via more partnerships with other groups." He pointed to several new projects a literacy program and a special program to combat childhood obesity.

Long's and Muhlfeld's words were backed up by a number of the guests who recalled the hard times and were grateful that the belt tightening removed the threat of shuttering the fledgling Museum.

CMEE President Lucy Muhlfeld, Karen Gluck, and Joanie Mackal raise a glass.

Throughout the restaurant, there were numerous displays of the work created by the children in their art classes at CMEE. Walls were covered with brightly colored watercolors painted by the students and even the table top and bar decorations were made in the art classes.

As the DJ cranked up the music, the crowd took to the floor and the party went slipped into high gear. Wearing heavy snow boots, we skipped the dancing and hit up the waitstaff passing Randy Reiss's fabulous sesame tuna and tempting treats. While foraging we ran into Eric Tilstra of Belly's Sno-Balls of Montauk. Eric was passing around traditional New Orleans Style flavored Sno-balls in little ice cream cups. A real New Orleansian, Eric grew up in the Big Easy and decided that Montauk would get off on his town's favorite treat - ice that has been shaved to a powder and drenched with bright syrup. The dense ice absorbs the syrup, making it more sorbet than slush. Yum! Even on a chilly day the sno-balls hit the spot. Like so many others, Eric had a simple reason for being there, "My daughter goes to CMEE and we love it." At least four other guests chimed in as they all had children, nieces and nephews, or grandchildren who benefitted from CMEE's creative programs.

Karen Gluck wanted to do an event that was affordable for all in the community was positively elated with the turnout. "I'm so pleased that so many people realize what an asset CMEE is to our area. It really is a life changing experience for many of the kids who participate. I am pleased that a lot of these folks made the sacrifice financially especially given the hard times. It's a real good feeling," she said with pride.

Among those raising a glass to CMEE - or a sno-ball cup - were artist Maggie Shively, Peter McWilliams, Rick Laspera, Kai-Kai Sandals Gabrielle Costanzo (waiting for the warm weather to get out of her boots!), Therese Benedict, Brad Gluck, Leslie Murdock, Susan Green, Anna Silverberg, Celeste Wecker, Ashley Dye, realtors Kristian Srb and Iris Zonlight, Peter and Tracey Koszalka, Richard and Jean Perello, Delaney Oser, Scott Smith, and Aubrey Peterson.


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