About 300 people dressed to the nines for an evening of glamour and fun at the Garden City Hotel for North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center’s annual Dancing With Our Stars gala on a recent November evening.
Len Berman, former NBC sportscaster, acted as emcee while former New York State Parks Commissioner and CEO of Castro Convertibles, Bernadette Castro, was the live auctioneer. The Dancing Stars included Frank Castagna, owner of Americana Manhasset; Charles Chan, from Harvest International; Wayne Grosse, from Bethpage Federal Credit Union; Jo-Ellen Hazan, past president; Tracy Kupferberg, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty; and Sandra Schoenbart, Sandra K. Inc.
“My function here is to extract lots of money from everyone tonight,” said Castro. “I do three live auctions a year for wonderful groups and it is really fun for me. Rita and Frank Castagna are close friends of mine and she is on the board, so I was happy to do this when I got the call.”
Berman joined Castro at the cocktail hour and looked back on being a part of this event for the past five years.
“This is a great organization and in a way flies a little under the radar here on Long Island,” he said. “They do a great job helping so many people. I am so excited that 300 people showed up tonight to support this organization. When you hear the stories of how they help families, it’s really touching.”
Steve and Sharon Cuchel of Roslyn Harbor came as guests of the Castagna’s.
“I know they do wonderful work and I am happy to be supporting them,” said Sharon.
Executive director and CEO of the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center Andrew Malekoff said the purpose of the vent, to raise money for children’s mental health, is so critical in today’s world.
“We see families and children that have Medicaid and commercial insurance that pays out of pocket. We turn no one away for inability to pay,” he said. “In order to fill the gap for lack of funding and low reimbursement rates, fundraisers make all the difference in the world. Mental health is a difficult issue for families because there is stigma and shame attached to mental health. When a child has a physical ailment parents don’t hesitate to make a call for help, but when it comes to mental health it can take, weeks, months, sometimes years to make that first phone call.”
President of board of directors of the organization, Nancy Lane, has been involved with the organization for years.
“If we can help families deal with mental health issues through early intervention we can really make a difference,” she said. “Our most experienced people can identify children who are highly at risk, suicide, cutting, bullying and situations that families don’t know how to handle. Some have to be hospitalized and we have a wonderful association with the local hospitals. Our organization has helped turn the stigma of mental health around. Nights like tonight are a celebration of the work we do and it heightens awareness of what is happening in our communities. We are an outpatient mental health facility but we deal with the whole family.”
Port Washington’s Cynthia Rubinberg and her husband Michael attend this event yearly.
“I think it’s very important to support this organization,” she said. “Mental health is a major problem and we need a lot of funding and a lot of help. It’s a wonderful organization and I am happy to support it and be a part of it.”
The guests were ushered into the grand ballroom, which was filled with tables adorned by two-foot centerpieces of roses, hydrangeas, amaryllis, black and white ostrich feathers and candelabras. Legal Analysts and CNN host Sunny Hostin was honored for her work.
After the speeches were given, money raised and dinner complete, the stars came out and did their best foxtrot, waltz and salsa. Castagna waltzed gracefully around the dance floor while president of Americana Manhasset Deirdre Costa Major enjoyed the show.
“This is a really fun event,” she said. “It’s glamorous and a fun way to raise money for a really good cause and I am here to support our star Frank Castagna.”
On Long Island, one in five children suffer from mental depression and only one in 20 get help. If you know of someone who needs help, contact the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center located at 480 Old Westbury Rd. in Roslyn Heights or call 516-626- 1971.