David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

April 22, 2011

A few blocks in the Sun

This past Wednesday night, the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House hosted its Spring Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street. The evening which was underwritten by Rolex Watch USA, and honored Elizabeth Rohatyn who is a past president of the Neighborhood House’s board and a longtime volunteer of the organization.

There were 700 for cocktails and 450 attending the dinner. The evening’s theme was “You’re The Top,” as in the Cole Porter song, and it served as inspiration of the table decors which were splendid, fabulous, and even, in some cases, “over” the top.

Diana Quasha was the Gala Chair. In her speech she pointed out that “You’re the Top is a very fitting description of Elizabeth Rohatyn.” 

She told us how Elizabeth Rohatyn had spent a large portion of her adult life serving Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. “A number of years ago, she joined the Board, and at that time, helped to lay the foundations for an annual Gala -- the prototype for tonight’s evening. But she went much deeper into the work of the House, as she herself said, ‘I wanted to be hands-on. I felt it was no longer enough to make charitable donations, no matter how generous they might be.’

“Twenty-five years ago when I was thinking of joining the board of the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House,” Diana continued, “I met with Elizabeth who was on the board. She asked me what I did. I talked about my numerous children, blah, blah, etc., whereupon she said to me, ‘I meant, what do you do for the community?’

In her years at Lenox Hill, Mrs. Rohatyn established the Elizabeth Rohatyn Awards to honor those individuals or organizations who have made an important impact in the social services. The Neighborhood House’s first computer room was a gift from the Rohatyns.

Diana also pointed out that Mrs. Rohatyn had gone on to create other charitable organizations, including the New York Public Library’s Teaching Matters, the Technology Empowerment Collaborative. “She even shared her talent with the French -- not just content to be Madame Ambassador -- founding Frame, a venture between American and French Museums.

Diana concluded, “She is part visionary, part pragmatist, and as gutsy as she is glamorous.”

In closing her introduction of the honoree, Diana quoted Winston Churchill who once said: Tonight, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Wednesday night’s Gala was a big success. They raised They raised $945,000 and there’s more counting.  Honorary Chair was Sydney Roberts Shuman. Dinner Chairs were Ingrid and Thomas J. Edelman. Dinner Partons: Audrey and Martin Gruss, Arthur Loeb, Mariana and Juan Sabaater. Honorary Design Chairs were Bunny Williams and John Rosselli. Design Chair was Christopher Spitzmiller.
The Design Committee responsible for all those You’re The Top tables were: Ashley Whittaker Design, Carleton V. Ltd and Eddie Ross, Chestnuts in the Tuileries, Christopher Spitzmiller, Danielle Roberts Interiors, David Duncan Antiques, de la Torre Design Studio, Dennis Rolland, Ellen Hanson Designs, Etos, Francis Palmer Pottery, Grace Kaynor, Harry Heissmann,  Jonathan Berger, Kristen McGinnis Design, Libby Cameron, Lindsey Coral Harper, Lucca & Co., Lynde Easterlin Interior Design,  McMillen, Inc., Nancy Swiezy Events & Sugar Flower Cake Shop,  Noland Interiores, Inc.w/ Kathryn C.Greeley, P. Allen Smith, Patrik Lönn, Robert Farrell, Rod Winterrowd Inc., Roric Tobin for Geoffrey Bradfield Inc., Scott Snyder Inc, Tobi Fairley Interior Design, Todd Schwebel, Tyler Taylor Interiors.

Galas and encomiums aside, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House has been operating for 117 years and is New York's premier neighborhood house offering a wide-array of integrated human services which significantly improve the lives of 20,000 people each year, from ages three to 103. As distinguished as its past is, its future is even more dynamic, strengthening the community. These are hard times for many many New Yorkers as well as other Americans. Places light LHNH not only provide need care and services but also offer with it hope, strengthening the community. If you think you might like to volunteer and join your community, visit this link:

Michel Witmer and Alison Minton