- The Independent Group Home Living (IGHL) held its First Annual Luncheon and Fashion Fling at the Westhampton Country Club on Sunday, Sept. 27, and what a smashing success it was.
Bob Policastro and Frank Lombardi of IGHL may have been outnumbered by the females in attendance but they held their own during registration and announcing winners of the Chinese auction.
IGHL hosts various benefits throughout the year to raise money for developmentally disabled people, faced with difficult challenges on a daily basis. IGHL is dedicated to helping these individuals live more independent lives.
, perhaps best known for her Academy Award nominated Best Supporting Actress performance in "Raging Bull," was part of the host committee that also included well-known sports talk show host and golf and tennis expert and author, Ann Liguori
, as well as Julie McCann Mulligan
, author of "A Year Full of Flowers: Fresh Ideas To Bring Flowers Into Your Life Everyday," (written in collaboration with Jim McCann
and Bo Niles
), and her sister-in-law, Mary Lou McCann
Others whose tremendous support and commitment to this organization made this event possible were Frank Lombardi
and Bob Policastro
of IGHL, Mary Beth Maag
, CFO, who has been with IGHL for 11 years, and Dori Geier
, Senior Director of Human Resources, who has been with IGHL for 13 years, and who stated "Our services extend from cradle to grave. We began in 1978, and have 50 group homes in 80 locations, and have serviced 5,000 people." Continuing she added "We have a waiting list, and are a 501(c)(3) organization, and residents must be 21 or older to live in the group homes."
Cathy Moriarty with her daughters, Annabella, 7 and Cathy, 9, expressed her happiness to be part of the day's events.
Among the generous sponsors were 1-800-FLOWERS, Aetna Life Insurance Company, Delphia Consulting, Jackson/Lewis, Attorneys, Jewels by Gare, Mutual of America, Napolean Monroe-Henry Schein, Inc., Optimal Nutrition & Wellness, Inc., Ortman & Sheff, Carra Polen, Seabrook Consulting, Team Technologies, Inc., Roger Testa-Herbert L. Jamison & Co., Tracy Cast of Arbonne, Wellness in the Workforce, and Willis HRH.
According to McCann Mulligan this organization has very special meaning to both she and her sister-in-law, as Mulligan's brother, Kevin (55), resides in one of the group homes in Eastport. "This organization has been the answer to our prayers. Before IGHL it was very difficult to find services to meet Kevin's needs that still allowed him to live a mature, independent life."
The same sentiments were echoed by McCann, married to Jim McCann, the CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS, who relayed, "This organization represents a family concern for us, and the programs, attention and devotion to residents in the homes is something our family respects and supports."
There was some serious surveying of Chinese auction items taking place during the cocktail hour.
The services offered by IGHL are substantial. The organization has 50 group homes in Suffolk County only, with a staff ratio of six to each home, available 24/7 to three to 12 adult men and women, in addition to mentoring work programs, medical resources including RNs and LPNs, health and nutrition programs, children's services, a nursing facility and pre-school, community programs, special services for AIDS and autistic residents, and above all stresses responsibility, self-discipline and awareness.
One of the many models wearing fashions from Renee's Womens Wear in Mattituck.
Moriarty, who attended with her two daughters, Cathy, 9 and Annabella, 7, enthused "I live in Southampton, and a friend told me about the work that IGHL does, and I simply fell in love with what they do. I think it is tremendously important and I am more than happy to be a part of this."
A very busy and community conscious Liguori commented "This organization is amazing, the homes are clean and staffed by professional and involved people who are committed to ensuring that the developmentally disabled are treated fairly, and with respect and opportunities to live more independent lives." This lady is to be commended for lending her time, name and efforts to a number of East End charitable organizations, and when asked where she finds the time she laughingly commented "Well, I am still a sports talk show host but I began my own [The Liguori] Foundation to be involved with cancer and health/nutrition organizations, and that has evolved to include other worthy organizations that benefit those living on the East End of which I am happy to be associated with."
Kyra McAlary, 13, and Katie Reesch, 13, made sure that all in attendance had the opportunity to purchase coupons for the Chinese auction.
During a lively cocktail hour attendees reviewed a myriad of items offered at the Chinese auction that included items from Tiffany's (a pearl necklace appeared to be the hot ticket item); hand-made wreaths, a year of haircuts, a Xerox laser printer, original art by Alma O'Neill
, a portrait session, Llardo figurine, baking goods, luxury spa items, Martha Stewart basket, Irish china, American Express gift card, and a number of restaurants and shops including Baby Moon, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Palm, as well as wine baskets and door prizes, among numerous other offerings.
According to McCann Mulligan the event was sold out "With approximately 180 tickets sold, and the wonderful part is that everything was donated so all proceeds will go directly to IGHL." Particular mention must be made to the absolutely beautiful floral arrangements adorning the tables and placed throughout not only the dining room, but the auction area and gracing a large table in the foyer of the Club where tiny ceramic pots of lovely single flowers were gratefully scooped up by attendees when leaving - all donated by 1-800-FLOWERS.
Following the cocktail hour, guests were treated to a delightful luncheon of carrot and ginger soup, followed by arugula salad with choice of grilled chicken, shrimp or filet mignon, and a dessert of peach and berry crustana with vanilla ice cream, as well as truffles. In addition to the nifty gift bags each attendee was given a small box of truffles at their seat to nibble on at home while admiring their lovely individual floral piece.
A beaming Julie McCann Mulligan expressed her personal gratitude for the work IGHL does that has assisted her brother who is a resident at a home in Eastport.
After the luncheon a Fashion show hosted by Debbie Gildersleeve
, owner of Renee's Womens Wear in Mattituck kept many ladies holding in their stomachs after such a feast while admiring both the traditional and trendy fashions on display, including everyday wear, evening and cocktail dresses, as well as full length gowns. Gildersleeve's husband and daughter were both enlisted to model junior and mens wear fashion as well. Able to keep the show moving briskly, the models were refreshingly realistic body types who were clothed in attractive, age appropriate fashions - from shoes to accessories - all from Gildersleeve's shop.
There was absolutely nothing about this delightful afternoon not to be enjoyed - from the attractive setting enhanced by those gorgeous flowers - to fun and interesting auction items and delicious food, door prizes and gift bags - to beautiful fashions, and great company - all for a most worthy organization whose representatives clearly conveyed their devotion to what they do for others, which simply made the afternoon that much more memorable.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.