Over 200 attendees toasted Scarsdale and Edgemont Family Counseling Service (SFCS) and honoree Sheryl WuDunn at the Gourmet Galaxy at Westchester Country Club on Wednesday May 2, 2012. The much-anticipated evening featured a tempting display of silent auction items contributed by local retailers, restaurants and friends, and food from 29 area restaurants and purveyors who generously donated drinks, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dessert.
Representatives from a wide swath of the community turned out in support of SFCS and their programs that assist residents of all ages, from families, to teens and senior citizens. We spotted the Mayor, Village Trustees, School Board members, realtors, PTA leaders, SFCS members of the Board of Directors and Gourmet Galaxy Committee in the crowd. Though partially funded by the Village of Scarsdale and the Scarsdale Board of Education, SFCS relies on funding from donations and fundraisers to meet their budget.
A group of hardworking volunteers took on a multitude of tasks to make the evening a success. An impressive array of silent auction items were displayed throughout the room and included jewelry, gift baskets, books, toys, and certificates for restaurant dinners, spa services, tutoring and more. During the cocktail hour, a representative from local brewery Captain Lawrence Brewing Company served free glasses of beer while sushi and hors d’oeuvres were provided by Haiku, Kirari, Kyo Sushi and Sakanaya and Standing Room Only.
Restaurants provided samples from their menus for dinner. We tasted polenta and osso bucco from Caffe Azzurri, Chicken Cacciatore from Lusardis, seared duck from the new Bistro Latino, and meatballs with fried onions from an American Bistro before we were too full to eat more. We heard that the sliders from the Tap House, baklava from Nikos , beef from Benjamin Steakhouse, salmon from Eastchester Fish Gourmet, pasta from Enzo’s, and dumplings from the new Noodle+ on Main Street in White Plains were good too. On hand for dessert were yodels from Lulu Cake Boutique and more sweet treats from La Renaissance, Patisserie Salzburg and Imagine Candy. We couldn’t taste everything but did note that the 808 Bistro, Club Car Café, Pagoda, and Zaza’s also fed the crowd.
The program was brief but informative. Highlighted was The Girls Center, a new program launched this year to build self esteem and empower girls in the Middle School. Tina Henderson and her colleague Lori Albanese both took the podium to describe their progress and thank the group for their support. Henderson said, “we have been entrusted with the town’s daughters, “ and reported that this year, the program included 23 girls who “emerged and grew and found their own voices.” The girls “wrote stories and scripts, did dramatic role play and explored both safe and scary places.”
Geraldine Greene, Executive Director of SFCS introduced Scarsdale’s Sheryl WuDunn and presented her with the Open Door Award for her work to ”illuminate challenges and problems women and girls face worldwide.” She called WuDunn, “ a powerful voice advocating for education and empowerment of women.” She is the co-author of “Half the Sky, Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which she wrote with her husband, N.Y. Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The book focuses on the challenges facing women around the globe and the struggle for gender equality. The Kristof’s have three children, two who attend Scarsdale High School and one in college.
Speaking without notes, it was evident that WuDunn is comfortable in front of a crowd. She explained that even though her work focuses on women in remote places, the lessons learned in countries such as Uganda or Kenya can be applied here and the methods we use to help one another in the U.S. can be transported abroad. She encouraged everyone to contribute their time to helping others and to integrate giving into their lives. She believes that charity alone is not enough – instead, she believes we need to find ways to give people livelihoods and empower them to help themselves. Though she said the world’s problems are daunting she told the audience to “build from your own strength,” and “in your little corner you can find a way to make a difference.”