Officially, spring begins tomorrow. In actuality, it will be yet another 40-degree day in what now appears to be an endless stream of borderline freezing days. The ongoing chill is enough to sap the energy and optimism from even the most cheerful of hearts. The Observer, whose own heart is not in this category, will almost certainly lose another pair of gloves before the end of the week in an act of forgetfulness/subconscious rebellion against the never-ending winter. If the gray skies and finger-numbing conditions continue, we may well start absentmindedly leaving our coats and sweaters behind on the subway as well.
But perhaps we can all learn a lesson from the Central Park Conservancy, an organization that not only believes the seasons will change someday soon, but started acting on that belief sometime ago: planting, hauling mulch, testing sprinkler heads.
Last month, more than 700 tuxedoed and ball-gowned revelers gathered in the Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life for the annual S.L.E. Lupus Foundation gala. As the attendees feasted on black American caviar, Margaret Dowd, the foundation’s executive director, was marveling at something else: the size of the crowd.
The foundation had not seen so many people at its annual gala since 2007. “It’s been very tough the last few years, and we had to cut expenses drastically,” she said. “In 2009, many of our donors said, ‘Our portfolios were really harmed and we have to cut our donations, but we’ll be back.’ And they did come back. This year has been much, much better.”
The benefit raised $2.5 million—a significant jump from the $2.2 million raised at last year’s. Things have not returned to the 2007 level, when the gala’s $3.2 million haul set a national record, which has yet to be topped, for lupus research funds collected at a single event, but the foundation is on track to raise 10 to 12 percent more this year than the previous one. Ms. Dowd added that the nonprofit’s spring luncheon saw such a dramatic spike in attendance this year—a 30 percent increase—that next year they plan to hold it in the Plaza.
It’s common for celebrities, athletes and politicians to talk about “giving back” to others in recognition for the support they received as children or young adults.
Sometimes they actually do it. Sometimes they do it in ways that are absolutely inspiring. Such is the case of John A. Paulson.
You know John Paulson: He’s the hedge fund manager who scored biggest betting against mortgage-backed bonds ahead of the subprime crisis, and while it hasn’t been all champagne and roses since, that’s hardly stopped the guy from loosening the purse strings. In June, he paid $49 million for a 90-acre Aspen, Colo. ranch previously owned by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
Today, the hedge fund billionaire announced a $100 million gift to the Central Park Conservancy, the largest donation made to the organization charged with the physical management of the park.
“The Conservancy is responsible for transforming and sustaining Central Park as the celebration of culture, nature and democracy that it is today,” Mr. Paulson said in a press release issued by the Conservancy. “It is my hope that today’s contribution will help it endure and flourish and inspire others to join me in ensuring that the Park continues to receive the support it needs to be this city’s greatest asset.”
New Yorkers who live on Central Park certainly reap the benefits of parkside abodes, especially when it comes to resale values, but they’re less than generous about giving back.
Only 17 percent of parkside denizens have donated to the Central Park Conservancy since 2010, according to a recent story in Crain’s by Michael Gross. And Mr. Gross, chronicler of luxury New York real estate and the author of consummate building biography 740 Park should know. Not only does Mr. Gross seem to have his eye on every move that uptown dwellers make, but he’s also a parkside resident himself.
The Women’s Committee at the Central Park Conservancy has appointed socialite and philanthropist Gillian (pronounced with a hard G) Miniter as its new president to succeed the incumbent, Betsy Messerschmitt, in October. The presidency, which has a two-year term, is a coveted seat. The organization accounts for a little over 20 percent of the park’s Read More
“You stopped me right before I could walk in and get too liquored up!” prolific restaurateur Danny Meyer told the Daily Transom as he arrived at the Central Park Conservancy’s “Taste of Summer” benefit on Wednesday night, June 3.
An estimated crowd of about 1,000 had Read More