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Kelsey Grammer Takes A Turn As Host Of Retreat Gala

Originally Posted: June 30, 2009

Douglas MacKaye Harrington

Event hosts Camille and Kelsey Grammar. Photos by Douglas Harrington

East Hampton - Once again, and for the second time this season, The Retreat enlisted East End artists in another successful merging of art and altruism. Dozens of artists donated their talents and hundreds of attendees donated their means in support of one of the truly essential Hamptons non-profit organizations - The Retreat.

The Retreat Board President Richard Damato and Executive Director Jeffrey Friedman.

The 14th Annual Artists Against Abuse fundraiser was held in the gymnasium at the Ross School in East Hampton. The evening kicked off with a cocktail reception that provided the attendees the opportunity to browse the donated artwork, particularly to silent bid on the hand-painted plates which have over the years become a signature offering of this event.

A very special aspect of this year's gala was the presence of Camille and Kelsey Grammer, who donated more than just their time and names as hosts by purchasing artwork themselves and donating a visit to the Grammar produced CBS drama series "Medium" and a walk-on role in Grammer's new fall sit-com "Hank."

I asked Grammer, considering the numerous requests he undoubtedly receives, why he chose to lend his support to The Retreat, "Honestly, we have friends involved with this group and we think it is a good cause. When someone reaches out to us that is a personal friend, that has a particular passion for something, we try and jump in and do what we can, either by spending money, donating something or donating time." In the case of this evening's event, he and his beautiful wife did all three.

Retreat Board Member Barbara Olfon with husband Charles.

Grammer was clearly aware of the important work being done by The Retreat in response to the need during the difficult economy and their ability to respond to the rise in domestic violence as a direct result of it, "People are indeed holding on to their wallets a little tighter, it is hard to get them to crack them open. A bad economy probably spurs this phenomenon [domestic violence] even more. People are out of sorts with their abilities to cope, even pathological. They tend to act out their frustrations more. So surely people that are in harm's way are at an even greater position of threat."

I informed Grammar that, perhaps because of his and his wife's support, despite the bad economy, the turn out for this year's event was better than last year, "I am glad to hear it. We'll try and get some money out of them," he laughed.

Richard Damato, President of the Retreat's Board of Directors, confirmed the rise in attendance and expressed his excitement and gratitude, "Very excited, a lot of people worked very hard and we've beat our numbers from last year in a very down time through a lot of personal contact and outreach. Last year we had only 210 and today we expect to have 275 guests. Hopefully, we will do well in a very difficult time."

Honorees Steve and Louise Bergerson.

Asked to comment on the outpouring of support from the artistic community, Damato responded, "We do love it, but times are difficult for them too, so actually starting tonight we are going to give them the opportunity to, if they so choose, to keep a portion of the sale if it is a piece over $5,000. We want to make them comfortable, as we know they are particularly hit hard in this economy. We know what it means to give back, they have needs and we have needs."

The evening's honorees included Steve and Louise Bergerson, SCPD Sergeant Nancie L. Byrne and East Hampton Town Police Officer Grace LaFemina, all who have supported the work of The Retreat with their passion and professional expertise. All were genuinely touched by the recognition they received during the Hope Awards Presentation.

To lend your support to The Retreat call 631-329-4398 or go to: www.theretreatinc.org.

Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com Hamptons HamptonsOnline HamptonsOnline

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