The 2017 Eagle Hill School Annual Benefit
The theme at this year's Annual Benefit may have been "Cold Days and Warm Hearts," but Mother Nature decided to have the last word, as temperatures soared to an unseasonable 70 degrees on that February evening. Even though it felt like spring, many guests donned Aspen-chic apparel—fur hats and vests, a few in head-to-toe ski wear—befitting the atmosphere at the Doral Arrowwood in Rye Brook, NY, which had been transformed into a cozy ski lodge.
Lit lanterns surrounded the cocktail area, a wall of birch branches acted as the Giving Tree, faux fur throws were tossed on couches and chairs, and hot chocolate was handed to guests as they left later that night. This year, the focus during the cocktail hour was on a Wine Grab Bag—which sold out in the first half hour—and the Wine & Whimsy silent auction, an offering of select wines and libations (also a crowd pleaser).
In the ballroom, tables were covered in beautiful brown plaid taffeta topped with centerpieces of logs, candles, and greenery. Parents were thrilled to see a continuous slide show of photos of Eagle Hill students pop up on the large screen at one end of the room, a gentle reminder of the mission of this event.
The highlight of the evening was the honoring of Dr. Lydia H. Soifer, the founder and, for its highly respected 25-year tenure, director of The Soifer Center for Learning and Child Development. In her introduction to Dr. Soifer, Honorary Co-Chair Amy Jo Frischling—who chaired the event with her husband, Bill Frischling—stated that "Lydia is a rock star in the field of language learning disabilities." She continued by reading out some of the testimonials of those who have been fortunate to work alongside Dr. Soifer, including the former Head of the Windward School, Dr. Judith Hochman, who said, "... the disabilities you deal with are the invisible ones; the ones that afflict people who are called shy, slow, stupid. You have explained these misunderstood individuals with insight, fierce intelligence, and even humor. You've taught teachers how to listen, how to question, how to change their practice and give their students the courage to take risks and learn to express themselves more effectively. Every school should have a Dr. Soifer."
As Dr. Soifer rose to the podium, the room, which was filled with current and alumni parents, friends, colleagues, faculty, and staff, erupted in applause, a moving testament to Dr. Soifer's warmth, expertise, and experience. Reflecting on the event a few weeks later, Dr. Soifer said, "I can never thank Eagle Hill enough for such an incredible acknowledgment of the work I simply love to do, made during a most extraordinary evening. To be surrounded by the love of family and dear friends, as well as the respect of one's colleagues, is a truly rare gift. The looks of pride on my sons' faces will stay with me forever."
No Eagle Hill School event is complete without an auction. This year, a new auctioneer, John Heffernan, amused guests with his quick banter as he played bidders against each other for the Live Auction's wintry offerings: an amazing Skier's Paradise trip to Park City, Utah; a Quintessential NY Package with an overnight stay and tickets to Hamilton; the coveted on-campus parking spot; a fabulous Bloom for All Seasons package; and the always-popular Head of School for the Day. The paddle raise following the live auction earned $125,000 for the purchase of additional transportation vehicles for the school. Thank you to the many volunteers and guests who made this event a success.