On April 5th, Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Italy (BGTI) hosted their Annual Spring Gala at The Pierre and raised over $400,000 to help refugee, migrant, and at-risk youth in Italy and Ethiopia.
BGTI’s President and Executive Director Mr. Gabriele Delmonaco joined Gala Chair Contessina Francesca Braschi and dinner Co-Chairs Sharon Marantz-Walsh and Bernadette Milito to welcome guests including BGTI Chairman Dr. Mauro Romita, and designer Carlos Arturo Zapata who created the Gala Chair and Co-Chairs gowns for the evening.
The gala was themed “Building on Solid Foundations.” Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Italy was founded by Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing in 1945 to help thousands of war-orphaned children struggling in Italy at the end of World War II. Seven decades later, BGTI’s unique approach of self-government has given a chance in life to more than 30,000 young people, from more than 20 countries. In September 2015 BGTI founded Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Ethiopia to support 400 children, primarily girls, in one of the poorest countries of the world.
Following cocktails, the 460 guests joined Camille Gucciardo to sing the national anthem before Father Peter Palmisano performed the invocation. A video demonstrated the work the BGTI does before Mr. Delmanaco took to the stage to announce that due to their expansion into Ethiopia and other poverty stricken areas around the world; they will be renaming the organization to A Chance In Life to better reflect the scope of their work. Contessina Braschi started the award ceremony by recognizing Jan Chipman and Raymond Gucciardo with Honor and Merit Awards.
“The Queen of Versailles” Jacqueline Siegel presented the Woman of the Year Award to Karen King, a singer and businesswoman. Assemblyman Hon. Joseph Saladino presented the Man of the Year Award to Charles S. Gucciardo, Esq. Vice Consul of Italy Isabella Periotto presented the Global Citizen Award to Dr. Maurizio Forte, the Director of the Italian Trade Commission in New York and Executive Director for the ICE USA offices. Monsignor Donald Sakano presented the Humanitarian Award to John Salvato, the President and CEO of Talent Spectrum. Fellow Soprano’s actor Dan Grimaldi presented the Celebrity of the Year award actor Vincent Pastore who played “Big Pussy” in The Soprano’s. Sharon Marantz Walsh presented the Celebrity of the Year award to Mercedes Ellington, the granddaughter of jazz legend Duke Ellington.
Following the award ceremony Karen King performed a selection of songs from her new one-woman show. Charles Gucciardo then sang a few Frank Sinatra songs before Alexis Chevalier performed the song made famous by his great-uncle Maurice Chevalier, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” from Gigi. All guests were given bags stocked with produced from Karen King’s store, Alleva Dairy as they left.
Additional guests included: Tina Radziwell, Beth Shak & Fox News presenter Rick Leventhal, Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin & Rafael Feldman, Jamie de Roy, Jean Shafiroff, Margaret Butler, Nicole Noonan & Steven Knobel, R. Couri Hay, and Randi Schatz.