What started as an idea to make sick children happy has led to more than $4 million in funds raised for kids battling cancer at Ronald McDonald House New York, and nine wishes granted via the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Hudson Valley.
It all began in 2006 when Hilda Taveras, owner of the Eliza restaurants, decided to take a Landmark course in self-expression and leadership. As part of the program, Hilda was assigned a project that would take help to discover first-hand what it means to express her ideas in partnership with others, while also providing leadership. With the help of her sister-in-law, Marta Peralta, and the rest of her family, Hilda hosted a summer party for the families at Ronald Mcdonald House New York.
The summer party's success led to the organization of a Christmas party a few months later, where Hilda and her family invited friends and colleagues to chip in. Soon, the power of networking took over after Marta, who works at Century Management Services Inc., spoke with her colleagues David Lipson, senior managing director, and the late Patrick Dunne, resident manager. A company-wide email yielded numerous donations. David and Pat saw the impact of the team's efforts, the began to work on a plan to take things to the next level.
"The Children's Happy Faces Foundation helps families during the difficult and challenging times as they seek better treatments and cures for their seriously ill children," said David Lipson. "We strive to help create an atmosphere that allows for some happy moments and smiling faces to soften the stressful times."
So, one afternoon Pat & David decided to play golf at Van Cortlandt Golf Course together with Bret Reilly, a friend & tenant of David. On the third hole; the idea came to them that the best way to raise money for Children's Happy Faces was to do a Charity Golf Outing. When David approached the owners of Century [The Barry's]; the embraced the concept immediately and committed to supporting the endeavor.
"Century has been the proud title sponsor of each of the last nine golf outings and we are pleased to support this most important cause again for year 10," said Mitchell Barry, President of Century Management.
The next outing is planned for Tuesday, September 27, 2016. The event has experienced growth each year, having its start at Wykagyl Country Club in 2007, to now having a simultaneous presence at three of the most prestigious courses in American: Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Hudson National Golf Club & Saint Andrews Golf Club.
All three same-day events offer a day of golf with a gorgeous backdrop, while Sleepy Hollow's daytime participants also have the option of participating in a tennis tournament, domino match or horseback riding in a setting that overloops the Hudson River. At night, things get even more exciting. All participants come together at Sleepy Hollow for the evening festivities.
"It's an amazing night," said Jerome Kelton, development officer of Ronald McDonald House New York. "We have over 600 guests who learn firsthand about what the House means for families who stay with us." Supporters also enjoy live rock & roll music by the Parker Reilly Band, scotch tasting provided by the Conroy's of Mustang Harry's, chair massages by Oasis Day Spa & great prizes for the guests to bid on including live auction items such as a king size Dux Bed, a yearly donation by the NY Yankees of four tickets in their Delta Suite & a fur coat by Not Just Mink. One of the guests commented, "it's not just a golf outing, it's an experience."
In addition to the phenomenal support that is provided by the real estate industry for these one-of-a-kind Children's Happy Faces golf events as well as their Casino Nights (the next event at Fino Wall Street Restaurant on Friday, March 11th), there have been remarkable in-kind donations from big hearted supporters.
- Andrew May, president of Hercules, has provided a donation of 23 Maytag washer & dryer laundry machines with a lifetime service contract. "Andrew is also executive chairman of our Golf Search Committee, and with his deady leadership has enabled us to add a third course which he chairs at the Hudson National Golf Club," said Mr. Lipson.
- Another special supporter with a heart of gold is George Smith of Efficient Combustion, who donated his services taking exceptional care of an aging heating plant until co-generation plant was finalized.
- Children's Happy Faces Foundation Tennis Committee Chairman Joe Caracappa, who is a partner at Sierra Consulting, provides pro-bono services to the House as their elevator consultant.
- In addition to Century Management as title sponsor, the Children's Happy Faces scroll of honor also lists a full spread of the organization's many supporters. However special recognition is deserving of the following: the Goldman's from Bargold Storage; Rob Cecere of DNSC; Doug Fenniman of Gallagher-Bollinger; Zurich of America; Ed Howe & Mindy Goldstein of National Cooperative Bank; Andrew May of Hercules; Demar Plumbing; Golf Chair Adam Zerka of Century Management; Direct Energy; Joe D. at JAD; Graphic Service Bureau; Phil Myers of Morgan Stanley; Yonkers Firefighters; the NYPD; and GE General Counsel and Senior Vice Presidet, & Ronald McDonald House board Vice President Alex Dimitrief.
- Most recently, Andrew Klein of Assured Environments have also embraced the concept of donating services [pest management] to the House. "With these types of donations, the platform is set for future in-kind donations" said Rick Martin, director of development and acting COO of Ronald McDonald House New York.
- Mr. Martin has nurtured the relationship with this group from its beginnings and continues to do so with grace. "The support of this group is commendable and it couldn't come at a better time as our special little charity is in expansion mode with nine new rooms currently being built for children that have neutropenia and require round the clock isolation" adds Mr. Martin.
- When looking back at all that was accomplished in just 10 years, it truly is a magnificent show of support for the important work that is done at the House and it's just a small sampling of what so many industry leaders and their companies have committed to along with selfless individuals, who year after year dedicate a tremendous amount of their valuable time as Children's Happy Faces volunteers.
- One of Mr. Lipson's favorite sayings is, "many hands make light work." and it certainly holds true in this case with countless numbers of supporters & over 50 committee members between the golf and casino events.
David J. Lipson, Founding Member
Children's Happy Faces Foundation