On The Avenue

Its Mission is also Diversity

by Lee Fryd Photographed by Sylvain Gaboury/PMC
Saturday, April 28, 2018

In 2012, NYC Mission Society, approaching its 200th year, decided to raise its profile and throw a gala. Enter Jean and Martin Shafiroff, one of Manhattan’s emerging fundraising couples. Two years later, real estate entrepreneurs Katrina and Don Peebles came on board. And a new gala’s profile rose. Last night, at Mission’s Champions for Children Gala at the Mandarin Oriental, the Shafiroffs and Peebleses co-chaired with Leah and Stan Rumbough, who was effectively born into the charity.

The Rumboughs’ support dates back to the time when Dina Merrill (a Hutton and social eminence whose parents sold Mar a Lago to you-know-who) married into the Colgate-Palmolive family. A married lady had to have a cause, Dina was told. Her mother-in-law promptly brought her into NYC Mission Society. Today, the presence of fourth generation Cole and Siena Rumbough keep it a family affair.

These days, Mission supporters are a more diverse group, but still great dressers. They follow the lead of the three Co-Chair clothes horses, who seemingly never met a dress they didn’t look good in. Sparkly evening gowns and slinky dresses were in abundance. No longer merely motivated by noblesse oblige, many in the room were, themselves, products of the uptown community that Mission serves, now giving back.

More than ever, education is the mission of Mission. Their after school programs get kids into college. Next, will be a charter school to give Harlem’s underserved the same opportunities — good teachers and small classrooms — that private schools afford.

“The week I paid off my student loans, I left my law firm and have been in public service full time ever since,” said Elsie McCabe Thompson, president of the organization since 2014. “This is my calling. With Mission, we have the ability to transform the lives of some of the neediest kids in the city, not only by giving them quality programs but by giving them hope and introducing them to opportunity.”

Heavy hitters from the worlds of real estate, finance and longtime white shoe firms filled the room. With the current national mood, there was a hint of politics. Elsie’s husband, Bill Thompson, a former Comptroller of NYC, made two Mayoral bids. Real estate entrepreneur Don Peebles’ name is often floated as a potential candidate. Of our governor and mayor feuding publicly, McCabe Thompson politically stated, “It would be wonderful if all New Yorkers, starting with our leadership worked together for the common good.”

“I love what everybody’s saying about leveling the playing field because our society is not going in the right direction in that regard,” said Susan Falles Hill, one of the donors the Shafiroffs brought in, contributing almost 20% of the evening projected $700,000 take.

Katrina Peebles’ bliss is being with the kids. “That’s the fun part, not the work,” she said, “where you walk away with a smile on your face, wondering, ‘Why didn’t I do that sooner? Why don’t I do that more?’ I think it’s called self actualization when you realize you’re really put on the planet to help people who are less fortunate that you are.” That includes bringing her own daughter’s 8th Grade class from Dwight-Englewood Private School to perform with the kids in Mission’s Page to Stage program. Last night, she beamed when son Donahue Peebles III came tp her side, lending his own marquee good looks and charm to the cause.

Cathy Hughes, the Founder and Chairperson of Urban One, Inc. (which includes TV One and Radio One); Mannie Jackson, a 2017 Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and President of the Mannie Jackson for the Humanities Foundation; Lieutenant Colonel Francis W. Kairson, Jr., Director Emeritus of NYC Mission Society; and BNY Mellon and International Flavors & Fragrances were all honored.

WABC News Anchor Bill Ritter, a longtime supporter of the Mission Society, emceed the event, and C. Hugh Hildesley, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s, served as auctioneer. Alex Donner and his Orchestra and students from Mission Society’s free afterschool GRIOT music program performed. The Gift Bag Sponsor was Molton Brown. Supporting the evening were: International Flavors & Fragrances; the Peebleses, Rumboughs and Shafiroffs; BNY Mellon; Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller, Yemi & Patrick Vatel, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP; MacFarlane Partners, and Stifel Financial Corporation.

Among the guests: Fourth generation supporters Cole Rumbough and Siena Rumbough, Ann-Marie and Yves Lawson, Brooke and Derek Steinhiser, Missy Kilroy, Jay Moorhead, Michele Herbert, Margo Langenberg, Larry Kaiser, Amelia Ogunlesi, Yemi & Patrick Vatel, B Michael, Valerie Simpson, Craig Dix, Dr. Penny Grant, Nathalie and Eric Ross, Ray Bouderau, Tanja Dreiding Wallace, Anthony Marx and Lucia Hwong Gordon.

“As you all know life is not equal,” said Jean Shafiroff. “Some people are born with more and some people are born with a lot less. Mission seeks to reduce that divide with educational opportunity.”



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