New Yorkers For Children Parties Past Bedtime

by Wendy Sy Photographed by Matteo Prandoni and Joe Schildhorn/
Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April may bring showers, as it certainly did last night, but it also brought flowers—well, inside the Mandarin Oriental, at least. Tables with cherry blossom centerpieces filled the dining room as guests arrived to celebrate the New Yorkers For Children’s “A Fool’s Fête: Enchanted Garden” annual spring dance, sponsored by French fashion house Chloé

During the cocktail hour, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, one of the honorary chairs, revealed how another April-related adage relates to the organization’s history. “The first annual spring dance fell on April Fool’s Day, thirteen years ago,” she says, explaining the meaning behind the event name. And with the unofficial holiday, comes a bit of mischief, of course. Apparently, the guests’ names on the place cards of each table were switched with A-list celebrity names, resulting in excited and confused faces all evening. “I love pranks,” says Olarte de Kanavos, who is also the founder of Friends of New Yorkers For Children, a committee who helps to support, raise awareness and participate in programs for children and young people in foster care. 

Artist and Instagram superstar Donald Robertson (aka @drawbertson) was busy sketching colorful portraits of guests, which went for $500 each to benefit the organization. When asked about his inspiration during the creation of the pink floral event invitations, he says, “They were very specific and knew exactly what they wanted. I don’t mind when people know what they’re after and it worked out well.” The father of five moved from New York to California last year, and was back in town because he “couldn’t say no” to the opportunity to be involved in the charitable evening.

Additional honorary chairs included Amy Crate, Susan Shin and Vanessa von Bismarck. Event chairs were Alina Cho, Erika Bearman, Hana Bitton, Nicole Esposito and Elisabeth Jones-Hennessy. “Of course, this is a glamorous night and everyone likes to get dressed up, even in the torrential rain, but it is about helping New York City’s foster children. People don’t realize how much help they need right now,” says Cho. “What this organization does is provide support through scholarships, other academic support and even emotional support. We’re very happy to be raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for children tonight.”

After dinner was served, Jones-Hennessy delivered a welcoming speech and introduced two of New Yorkers For Children’s Nick’s Scholars, Tenesher Young and Vanessa Louis, who read heartfelt poems on their experiences as foster children and how education has changed their lives. Following, Jennifer Wright of Christie’s took the stage to start the live auction. “We’re going to start big—I know it says $5,000 on the card, but I’m going to push it a bit because the NASDAQ is breaking records. I’m feeling rich, you’re feeling rich, let’s start with a $10,000 donation,” she says. Paddles were raised to bid on the Back-to-School Packages, which provides college-enrolled students with laptops, gift cards to purchase books and Metrocards.

DJ D-Nice turned up the music and the evening continued with dessert and dancing to tunes such as the Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling.” Jokes aside, it was indeed a good night.


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