On The Avenue

Giving up Gowns for the Mission Society on Eve of Lent

by Ben Diamond Photographed by Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Upper East Side’s upper crust was out in full force last night at the home of Jean and Martin Shafiroff. The occasion was the kickoff party for The New York City Mission Society’s annual gala, to be held at The Mandarian Oriental on April 5. Chaired by Ms. Shafiroff and Katrina Peebles, and honoring Diahann Carroll and Don Peebles, the gala looks to be one of the social events of the season. But the kickoff was no slouch either.

The New York City Mission Society has been fighting poverty for two centuries, and it helps struggling children throughout the city with tutoring, counseling, internship opportunities and so much more. Like all great charities, the Mission Society is motivated by the selflessness of its volunteers. “They’re not there because they want someone to tell them how great they are. They’re there because they care,” said Edward Ankudavich. “And for these kids, sometimes it’s just a matter of somebody telling them something nice.”

The Shafiroffs are among the Mission Society’s biggest boosters. “I saw children who should have been out of school or in the country, and instead were in an inner city summer camp,” said Ms. Shafiroff, explaining what initially attracted her to the charity, “and my heart went out to them.”

The mood at the party was convivial, as guests put aside petty politics in the spirit of charity. Mr. Peebles, a longtime Democratic donor, put his arm over the shoulder of New York GOP chair Edward Cox for a photograph, a rare fraternal gesture in these partisan times.

Such was the goodwill in the room, in fact, that a nearly impossible-to-conceive suggestion was made. “Anyone who was planning on buying a new dress,” implored Ms. Peebles, “think about giving that money to the Mission Society and wearing something you already own!”

“We can change the color in the photos afterwards,” said Ms. Shafiroff, who is as well known for her wardrobe as for her philanthropy.

Over a hundred guests attended, including Geoffrey Bradfield, Lucia Hwong Gordon, Alex Donner, Maggie Norris, Angela Chen, Elena Ayot, Flo Anthony, Tony Bowles, Rosemary Ponzo, Elsie McCabe Thompson, Tanja Dreiding Wallace, Leah and Stanley Rumbough, Henry Buhl, Victor dE Souza, Michelle Herbert, Margo LangenbergJoseph Fichera, Adele Nino, and Frederick Anderson.



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