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INTERVIEW: "An Evening Of Enchantment" Honoree Jodi Wasserman On Giving Back, The Ellen Hermanson Foundation Gala, And More

Nicole Barylski

Jodi Wasserman is being honored this year. (Courtesy Photo)

The Ellen Hermanson Foundation is presenting a magical affair on Saturday, July 28 when its annual An Evening of Enchantment Summer Gala returns to the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.

This year's fete will feature cuisine by Jean-Georges, a live auction with Nicholas Dawes of Heritage Auctions and PBS' Antiques Roadshow, a special appearance from Illusionist and Mentalist Alex Voz, music by DJ Double S Productions, a Mirror Photobooth NYC, and more.

We caught up this year's honoree, Jodi Wasserman about the importance of giving back, the gala and more.

How long have you served as a member of the Board of Directors of Lucia's Angels and the Coalition for Women's Cancers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital?

JW: I would say about eight years.

What initially made you want to be a part of these wonderful organizations?

JW: I had a dear friend of mine and she passed away - this August will be 11 years - and she had breast cancer and at that moment I said, "I have to volunteer" - just knowing what she needed and being there for her - whether it was cooking meals for the family, holding her hand, taking walks, whatever she needed. I thought, what if somebody didn't have a relative or somebody around that could be there for them? So, I wanted to volunteer. Well, I never did and six months later I was diagnosed myself, with stage 2. I thought this is a message from God saying get your act together because I'm giving you another shot. After my treatment I looked where to volunteer and I had known about Lucia's Angels through La Carezza hair salon. I asked them to guide me on where to go to volunteer. I went to the Hospital and I met Susie Roden, who is the patient navigator, and she turned me onto these groups. I knew nothing about the Coalition for Women's Cancers. She took me to a meeting and then asked me to jump on board, which I did. From that point on it was Lucia's Angels and Ellen's Run.

And you've witnessed firsthand the amazing work that the Ellen Hermanson Foundation has done. What are you most proud of?

JW: I think what I'm most proud of is the idea that I've been able to instill in family of how important it is to help other people.

Could you speak a bit about that and why people should get involved?

JW: Lucia's Angels is for those with stage 4 and their families. The Coalition helps women with all cancers. I believe from the time you're diagnosed, cancer it's not just about the patient. Of course, 99.9 percent is about the patient, but people tend to forget the family and how important it is to be there for the family and their needs. Not everybody is fortunate enough to have a spouse, sibling or friend that would be able to drive them, we supply that - a volunteer who drives them to chemo or radiation or we give money for cabs. When one gives, it's unbelievable how much you receive back. You learn so much from these women. The other thing is we all have problems - no matter how big or small. When you reach out and help a woman that's sick like this, all of the sudden the tapes in your head stop and you're like, "You know what? Breaking a nail isn't so bad today." In my case, I have a daughter that is in and out of my life. Even that, which can be very traumatic, it's not so bad. I'm healthy today, the people around me are healthy. If anything you become extremely filled with gratitude for your own life and health and everything you do have. It's also taught me to be happy about everything I do have, not what I don't. That's all come out of being around these women.

Have you ever been to An Evening of Enchantment? If so, what are some of your favorite aspects of the benefit?

JW: The camaraderie of it. There you'll see Susie Roden, Stacy Quarty of Lucia's Angels and the Coalition, Ellen's Run and the Foundation, the President of the Hospital, and the women that work at the Breast Center. Just to have one night for everybody that's involved and helps these women, that's my favorite part.

An Evening of Enchantment Summer Gala will take place from 6:30 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $600.

Proceeds will support The Ellen Hermanson Breast Centers at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, as well as satellite locations in Hampton Bays and East Hampton and Ellen's Well, a free psychosocial support program. The Ellen Hermanson Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that East End residents have access to state-of-the-art breast health care and empowering those impacted by cancer. No patient is ever denied treatment at The Center because of lack of insurance or lack of funds to afford for treatment.

Topping Rose House is located at 1 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit www.ellenhermanson.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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