David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

10 April 2006

Kidding a Kidder

Friday night in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental at the Time-Warner Center on Columbus Circle, the Friends of New Yorkers for Children held their annual Spring Dinner Dance “A Fool's Fete” to benefit New York's children in foster care. It is rare that major galas are held on Friday nights but the Friends' “A Fools Fete” has become one of the most important Spring benefit galas of the younger set in New York.

New Yorkers for Children was founded by Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta to assist and improve the lives foster children in New York. Mr. Scopetta, who was brought up in foster care himself, is deeply aware of the need to increase the private sector's awareness of child welfare issues. One of the objectives of the “Friends” this year was to raise funds to assist foster children going off to college – supplying with some of the basic tools they will need – including an allowance for books and a laptop computer.

Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos chairs the Friends Committee that stages this event. The Friends Program Committee supports, in collaboration with the Administration for Children's Services (ACS), opportunities for sustained guidance and networking between young adults and members of Friends of NYFC. It develops a pool of needed resources (restaurants, gift in-kind donations, and volunteers, as needed) to be used to directly support Children's Services activities and efforts. They raised $300,000 for the cause.

There are almost 17,000 children in foster care in New York City. NYFC works with the City to provide them with comfort, support and guidance during this especially difficult time in their lives. If you want to get involved, there are all kinds of opportunities (including donating funds). Visit their web site:

This evening has become a fashion event. It is also another high profile social event where many women arrive unescorted either with other women friends or alone. Outside the ballroom there is a photographers' frenzy and the girls are ready for it.

This was the year of the backless dress, at least that's how this reporter saw it. It was a long cocktail hour, as usual, making it hard to seat a crowd of several hundred. Finally, Mrs. Kanavos brought me a hand mike and asked if I would announce that it was time to “sit.” A couple of announcements later they were settled in.

After the second course, the crowd took to the dance floor – which remained jammed and jumping for the next few hours.

Andrew Shore and Alison Minton