FSW’s STAR Gala Honors Three Loyal Supporters

ABC’s Bob Woodruff Serves as Emcee

Without assistance from volunteers and corporate and foundation donors, Family Services of Westchester would not be able to offer its 50 mental health and social service programs to thousands of Westchester residents each year.  This year’s STAR Gala, FSW’s major fundraiser of the year, is recognizing three outstanding supporters of the organization. A “Red Carpet” theme for the Gala, which is scheduled for 6 pm on Thursday, April 25th at the Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle, will add an element of glamour and fun to the event.

Another highlight of the evening will be this year’s prominent emcee, ABC correspondent and Rye resident Bob Woodruff. In 2006, Woodruff was shot in the head while on assignment in Iraq. Miraculously, just 13 months after this traumatizing brain injury, Woodruff returned to work at ABC. He and his wife Lee, who was the emcee of FSW’s 2011 STAR Gala, coauthored a successful memoir about Bob’s experience in Iraq called In an Instant. The family has established The Bob Woodruff Foundation to assist injured veterans.

FSW is honoring an extraordinary volunteer at this year’s STAR Gala, Scarsdale resident Leslie Chang. Leslie has spent many hours in the agency’s Development office as the force behind many marketing initiatives including the agency’s website redesign, social media launch, email campaigns and graphic design projects.  Leslie also serves as Chair and is a Founder of the organization’s Junior Board, a group of philanthropic young professionals living in Westchester who raise funds and awareness for FSW.  In just two years, the Junior Board has raised $40,000 and has handed out nearly $20,000 in grants to FSW programs through its Youth Enrichment Fund. Under Leslie’s leadership, the Junior Board has funded more than a dozen grants, providing a trip to Washington, D.C. for a group of emotionally challenged adolescent boys and funding a Teen Women’s Peer Group that culminated with a trip to Broadway to see “Bring it On: The Musical,”  a show with positive messages about race relations, trust and self-acceptance.

Innovative philanthropist Laura Scherr Saggase of Armonk is also being honored on April 25th. Through her family’s foundation, The Vera and Walter Scherr Family Foundation, Laura has helped pioneer and underwrite FSW’s highly successful “I Believe, I Achieve” mentoring initiative  through FSW’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Now in its third year, “I Believe, I Achieve” is helping students from Yonkers, along with their families, develop the skills and determination they need to be successful in life. Through workshops, mentoring and field trips, students who participate in the program have learned about robotics and martial arts, have written and published books and a magazine and have been to Broadway, Ellis Island, the Liberty Science Center and other educational and cultural sites. Maurice Stanley, a former Big Brother and member of FSW’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Advisory Board, has created a video of the many accomplishments of the “I Believe, I Achieve” students that will debut at the Gala.

Con Edison, a loyal corporate partner to FSW since 1990, is also being honored at this year’s STAR Gala. Con Edison is currently supporting two youth leadership programs through the agency’s Westchester County Youth Councils, which consist of approximately 100 teens from all over the county who are interested in social activism and leadership. These community-minded teens join the Councils to advocate for their peers and organize educational workshops for them as well. Recently, Con Edison has worked with the teens to launch a Go Green environmental initiative, enabling the adolescents to work with Hudson Riverkeeper to assess water quality and learn about conservation and wildlife in local bodies of water. Through this Con Edison outreach, Youth Council members are also learning about green job opportunities and the importance of careers in the STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

“All three of our honorees have done so much to assist and support FSW programs,” notes Susan B. Wayne, President and CEO of FSW.  “We are also honored to have Bob Woodruff, who has given so much to veterans and to his craft, as the emcee for this year’s STAR Gala.”

Music for the Gala will be provided by Junior Board member Nizam Singletary, also known as DJ Niz of Shepard Entertainment. Michael Weissman, who did such an outstanding job highlighting FSW’s Hope Fund at last year’s event, will be serving as Auctioneer at this year’s Gala as well.  Auction items this year include luxury trips to Disney and the Caribbean, as well as one-of-a kind cultural and sports events and memorabilia.

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