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Hetrick-Martin Institute's "School's Out" Has Recording-Breaking Donations - With Support From Phaedra Parks, Tracy Anderson, Thom Filicia And More

Sydney A. Braat

Phaedra Parks. (Photo; BFA)

The 21st annual Hetrick-Martin Institute's (HMI) School's Out proved to be a record-breaking evening on June 8. This marked the 40th year of service for HMI, the oldest running metropolitan LGBTQ youth support center, which offers education, counseling, housing, healthcare, food, and many other services for youth who may be struggling with their home lives and social equality.

The evening's co-chairs were Benjamin Dixon, Daniel Ennis and Rod Grozier, with event co-hosts including Joseph Altuzarra, Tracy Anderson, Shelly Brown, Lisa Cohen, Fernando Garcia, Ryan Kaplan, Garrett Neff, Brian Sawyer, Kevin Sharkey, Sydney Sadick, Bill Wackermann, Paul Weinstein and Thom Filicia.

Cocktails were held at the East Hampton beach-side estate of Lisa and James Cohen, who have graciously hosted the event many times in the past and once again opened their gorgeous home.

Tracy Anderson. (Photo: BFA)


"I think it's more of an honor for me than HMI to welcome this handsome group for such a special evening," remarked Host Lisa Cohen. "The Hetrick-Martin Institute gave me a new purpose, a new passion for being a part of a helpful community, and I can't wait for the years to come where we all end up on my front lawn talking about our success as a true 'School's Out Family'".

Phaedra Parks, who has starred in Bravo's The Real Housewives of Atlanta, authored several books, is represented by Wilhelmina Models, and also works as a mortician, attorney, and meditator, graced the audience with her vivacious presence. The Southern Belle helped lead a successful fundraising effort on-site at the event.

We caught up with Ms. Parks who was eager to speak to and take photos with everyone at the event.

"So, in lieu of it being pride month, what does this event mean to you?" we asked.

"I am so excited to be here because I think it's important for people to celebrate our differences," Parks told Hamptons.com. "As a black woman, I understand what it means to be discriminated against. To see all of these beautiful people who are accepting of everyone's differences, it's unbelievable. This organization is incredible that it helps so many children who have been viewed as outcasts. As a mother of two boys, I have to support education and organizations that make the world better."

Garrett Neff, Lauren Gaudett, and Ben Dixon. (Photo: BFA)


Guests were incredibly generous this year and a handful of individuals offered to match $40,000 of donations in honor of HMI's 40th year. It was evident that the attendees surpassed that number with flying colors.

Following cocktails, guests were transported via Range Rover shuttles to the home of Joe Hall and Martin Dagata where they were treated to live Bossa Nova and a candlelit dinner courtesy of STK. During dinner, host committee member Tracy Anderson awarded Lisa Cohen with a humanitarian recognition piece of art, and thanked her for her continued support and involvement with the institute. Later, Rod Grozier and television legend Thom Filicia held the paddle raise auction with great success.

To learn more about Hetrick-Martin Institute, visit https://hmi.org.


Sydney Braat is a Hamptons-raised and NYC-living journalist. She enjoys splitting her time between the bustling city life and relaxing atmosphere of the Hamptons. When she's not writing, Sydney is traveling. She thrives off of new experiences, cultures, cuisine, and languages. Sydney writes about the arts, philanthropy, food & wine, and shopping. https://www.sosydneyny.com/ sydneybraat


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