The word volunteer, as defined by my reliable friend – the Webster dictionary, is when a person “freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.” About once a year, mainly during the holiday season, the act of volunteering or giving back is at the forefront of many people’s minds. But who, you may ask, is dedicated to helping the pervasive number of families in need all year round? The answer is simple: Volunteers of America.
Volunteers of America held their 20th annual winter gala at the Plaza on December 1, 2015. The marriage of this philanthropic organization with the generous support of its dedicated guests certainly cultivated a night that was to be remembered.
The evening commenced with over 400 guests gathered in the Terrace Foyer, one of the Plaza’s most timeless venues. Among the snapping of photos on the red carpet and in between bites of rare-seared tuna and Maryland crab cakes, guests bid on silent auction items that were generously donated from a wide range of companies and individuals. From Billy’s Bakery, a Plaza Food Hall favorite, to donated items from Christian Dior Couture – the auction was nothing short of a major success.
As guests made their way up to the Grand Ballroom, they were greeted with delicate Orchids and a Todd English inspired 3-course menu. The dinner began with fresh focaccia bread paired with a heartwarming truffle lobster soup, setting the perfect tone for the night. The silent auction, conducted by Sotheby's Hugh Hildesley, continued throughout the evening, allowing guests to support all of Volunteers of America’s programs, which aid struggling, sick and homeless individuals.
In between the ginger soy glazed tenderloin and dark chocolate s’mores with a toasted Italian meringue, Today Show and Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist made a special appearance on stage and RXR was honored by the Volunteers of America organization. When the night finally ended, guests departed with gift bags in hand that were filled with delicious goodies. The combination of the magnificent décor with the vivid devotion and kindness of the staff and guests, not only cultivated a sense of “philanthropic spirit,” but also allowed for this to truly be a special night at the Plaza.