Members of the charitable organization All For The East End held a gathering at the Dodds & Eder store in Sag Harbor on Tuesday night, to raise awareness and inform interested parties on the current status of the organization. Among those attending were AFTEE board members, from he left, David Okorn, Myron Levine, Danielle Cardinale, Claudia Pilato, Dottie Simons and Bob Edelman. Photo by Michael Heller.
By Stephen J. Kotz
To celebrate what has become known as “Giving Tuesday,” All for the East End, or AFTEE, a grassroots charity that was formed just two years ago with the goal of keeping charitable donations local, held a reception at Dodds and Eder in Sag Harbor on Tuesday, December 2, to celebrate the grants it awarded this year and get a kick start on raising money for 2015.
And what a start it got. After it was announced that Bruce and Luke Babcock through their Pope Babcock Foundation and Bridgehampton National Bank would donate $10,000 each and Myron Levine, one of AFTEE’s founders, would give $7,500, Dan’s Papers chief executive officer Bob Edelman said the company would give $12,500.
With $40,000 already in hand, Mr. Edelman and Claudia Pilato, BNB’s marketing director, who are both on AFTEE’s board, both pledged personal donations of $1,000, an amount Kevin O’Conner, BNB’s CEO, matched.
Soon, another half-dozen pledges from the audience had brought the unofficial total raised for the evening to $47,000.
That’s nearly as much as AFTEE distributed this year when it provided 20 different nonprofit organizations with micro-grants of $2,500.
“We’re hoping it can be a model around the country,” said Mr. Edelman of the idea of targeting local nonprofits with meaningful donations.
“There is a great need, and every organization is doing really valuable work,” added Ms. Pilato.
Mr. Levine, who has become an active fundraiser for a number of causes after the death of his son, Josh, in an accident at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett in 2010, said he hoped that East End residents with the means to do so would consider making bequeaths in their wills to AFTEE so an endowment could be established to allow the organization to become self-sustaining.
“If they are passionate about the East End, they should consider leaving something to AFTEE,” he said.
To demonstrate firsthand the impact the organization has had, Ms. Pilato asked recipients of this year’s grants to tell the audience what they had done with the money.
Theresa Roden, the founder of i-tri, a program that focuses on raising the self-esteem of middle-school girls by having them complete a youth length triathlon, said her organization, started a nutrition program. Girls in the program and their families were able to learn the importance of eating a healthy diet, she said.
Sarah Benjamin, the director of Community Action Southold Town, said her group had used the money to set up a program to encourage parents of young children to both read to them and play with them, basic activities that help children get a head start in school.
Angela Byrnes of East End Hospice said her organization had recognized that children are often overlooked in the grieving process. To raise awareness, the organization held a conference that was attended by more than 100 representatives of schools, hospitals and other community organizations to discuss ways to provide better services for children who have lost a loved one.
Zona Stroy of Open Arms Care Center in Riverhead, an organization which over the years has found its niche as a food pantry, said her all-volunteer organization used its grant money to buy food.
“We decided people should eat all year long, not just at the holidays,” she said.
AFTEE received 82 applications this year. The task of determining where that money should go fell to the Long Island Community Foundation, whose executive director, David Okorn, said he established a committee with one member from each of the five East End towns to make the decisions.
They learned, he said, that it is difficult choose one organization over another because all of the applications were for well-deserving programs.
AFTEE is a registered nonprofit organization. More information about making donations or applying for a 2015 grant can be found at aftee.org.