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Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Annual Summer Party Reinvented As A "Gala In Your Garden"

Lee Fryd

Bob Chaloner had a vision: "I wanted us to look back and always remember how we did the summer party in the middle of the Covid crisis," he said. "Our party is a big deal for us, not only to raise money, but to gather with the community and have a little fun." The expansive gala has always been a summer signature event. How to make it memorable this year while preaching social distancing? Change it from "Gala in the Garden" to "Gala in Your Garden." So, on August 1, a string of table purchasers all over the Hamptons will host a catered spread on their own grounds, linked by a "7 Minutes at 7 p.m." virtual toast given by Liev Schreiber, Bob Chaloner, and others. They will honor our healthcare heroes: the hospital employees.

The event is also a nod to the local businesses that have supported the hospital during the past tough months of the pandemic. Restaurateurs sent catered meals for hospital staffers. The community gave to the Healthcare Heroes Fund.

"We're especially grateful to all the local businesses who donated food and supplies during the toughest months," Chaloner told us. "We struggled with a way to hold our gala responsibly. And our Director of Special Events, Mirella Cameran-Reilly, came up with an unbelievably creative way to do it: virtually, in small groups, outdoors, that people could tailor to their own circumstances."

"It was a team effort," Mirella said, "to bring us back together and do something for the community that did so much for us."

Guests who purchase a 'table' will receive all they need to host a cocktail hour or dinner party for up to ten guests, all provided by local East End vendors and artisans. Expect good wine, because the Hospital (SBSH) Annual Summer Party's Title Sponsor is Wölffer Estate Vineyard. Expect good food from some of the areas best restaurants: The Stone Creek Inn in Quogue, 75 Main and Tutto Il Giorno in Southampton, Calissa in Bridgehampton and Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor. (menus: southampton.stonybrookmedicine.edu)

Joining virtually will be host committee members Donna Karan, Gabby de Felice, Liev Schreiber, Georgina Bloomberg, Joey Wölffer, Jean Shafiroff, John and Margo Catsimatidis, Andrea Correale, Kristen Farrell, Maria Fishel, Jim and Hollis Forbes, Francine Le Frak, Fern Mallis, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, NYS Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren, Cindy Willis, Laura Lofaro-Freeman, Martha McCully, Lynn Scotti, Anetta Nowosielska, and Nina Rumbough.

Table hosts will get a delivered party box created by Janet O'Brien of Events Hamptons and handcrafted by florists and designers, Kim Jon Designs. Inside will be a selection of rosé, red or white wines from title sponsor, Wölffer Estate Vineyards; local tequila brand Montaukila, hors d'oeuvres, cookies and a margarita mix by Janet O'Brien; and gifts from Hamptons Handpoured Candles, Amagansett Salt Company and Southampton Soap Company. Sag Harbor Florist, Kim Jon Designs and Anchor & Bloom are among the local florists to provide table centerpieces.

As always, the gala will benefit the Emergency Department, and this year, also the future East Hampton Satellite Emergency Department and the Healthcare Heroes Fund, established during the onset of Covid-19.

"We went through a very difficult several months with the pandemic climbing, but we are on the other side of it," Chaloner said. "The hospital saw and cared for a lot of people. We functioned well and our clinical results were absolutely spectacular. Right now, things are very quiet. We still have a one or two Covid-19 patients on a daily basis. Interestingly, most of them are coming in for other reasons and we find out they are positive for Covid-19 when we test them prior to admissions. But, I don't want to give anyone a sense of confidence that it's over. It's still in our community. And I can't stress enough that we have to continue safe practices. I'm really proud of the community response so far, because the Hamptons thrives on partying. In fact, we're party central. So, if we can do it anybody can."

We're really proud to learn no one came into the hospital for one health issue and left with Covid, as has happened in Dade County, for example. "I feel safer inside the hospital than I do outside it," Chaloner continued. The statistics prove his point. The percentage of people testing positive for antibodies are higher for the community at large than for the 80 percent of hospital workers who volunteered to be tested.

And Chaloner walks the walk: "I'm not just hunkering down in my office," he said. "I move around the hospital, talking to patients and workers. We are following really, really careful guidelines."

"I know this is a long haul, but we're going to get through it. Please keep wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing. It's working."

For more information about Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and the "Gala in Your Garden," visit southampton.stonybrookmedicine.edu.

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