On Monday, December 3rd, our event for the day was the 2018 annual Philantrophia Luncheon, at which money is raised for close to 70 local non-profits.
Upon arrival, we spoke to Mr. Harlan Diamond and Ms. Melissa Marik, the President and Vice-President at Landerhaven, who told us that the Philantrophia program originated in 2001 due to the fact that, after 9/11, most of the charitable contributions that would normally go to Cleveland/Northeast Ohio organization were (understandably) directed towards New York. It was thus the mission of Philantrophia to raise very much needed funds for our local organizations which it has done very successfully; the latest figures showed that so far $2.1 million has been raised.
As for ourselves, we were there as guests of Ms. La Verne Nichols Boyd, the President of The Girl Friends Fund, Inc. which "brings dreams to life by providing scholarships and mentoring to high-achieving, African-American students who face significant financial obstacles in their path toward a college education."
We got to sit with Ms. Boyd at her table right next to retired Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Mabel Jasper who we loved visiting with. To be sure, Judge Jasper was very pleased and excited that her very good friend, Judge Melody Stewart was recently elected to the Ohio Supreme Court.
In the course of the program, Ms. Kristi Capel from Fox 8 News acted as emcee and graciously shared her schedule with us because there was no written program.
Very much in the spirit of unity, opening prayers were lead by Rabbi Rosie Haim, formerly of the Temple-Tifereth Israel, and closing prayers were lead by the Reverend Mark Rice, Associate Pastor of the East View United Church of Christ.
Among the important sponsors who were given time to talk about their organizations was Dr. Mona Gupta, the President of the Association of Indian Physicians of Northern Ohio (AIPNO) which we at Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC have supported over the years. Unfortunately, Dr. Gupta was unable to present a slide presentation but our good friend, Mr. Ramesh Shah, stepped in and held up informative placards as Dr. Gupta spoke effectively.
The format of the luncheon alternated between short talks/presentation and entertainment provided by the young dancers of the City Ballet of Cleveland, who did a masterful job of negotiating the relatively small stage, and the Singing Angels who sang all kinds of songs that fit the season including a Hannukkah song in Yiddish.
It was especially delightful when a member of the Singing Angels situated himself/herself at each table and lead us in the singing of a "carol-a-long" consisting of such numbers as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Towards the closing, it was announced that well over $149,000 had been raised for the local non-profits through ticket sales, where the ticket purchaser could direct the price of the ticket towards the organization of his/her choice.
Let it be said that we have always admired Mr. Harlan Diamond simply because we consider him to be a fine gentleman, but after this day, our admiration for him increased because we learned that Landerhaven bears the entire cost of this luncheon so the non-profits can benefit all the more.