Saratoga Hospital Foundation and the Important Business of Goodness
Photos by Matthew J. Campbell and Arthur Gonick
The Cause is Vital – The Experience is Worthwhile
Carrie Rowlands Johnson
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The soft pads of my fingertips prickle, brushing against rough canvas as I pull back a flap of the fabric. Simultaneously, my other hand touches on a warm, fuzzy pillow. I toss it back onto the air mattress, the small red square coordinating with the cozy plaid comforter it lands on, seemingly quite content to be at rest.
I stretch one bare leg out, then the other, my feet clad in blue chunky heels.
As I climb out of the tent, my mouth immediately waters in sync with my brain.
I am gazing across picnic tables expertly decorated with bright pink lobster tails and shrimp, green salads, juicy roast beef and seasoned pulled pork. It is the perfect summer picnic, Adirondack style; the glamping tent prop I’m exiting an intricate part of the elaborate decor.
My saratoga.com blogging partners greet me with wide smiles bursting with perfect white teeth. I wrap my arms around a carved bear, curious on its girth. Fashionable Lisa Champagne joins in for another photo opp.
We stroll over to a vintage, restored green truck, five metal letters catching our attention.
The side of the vehicle has been carefully sliced off, a brick pizza oven installed where a window once held residence. Its owners and partners in Classic Crust Mobile Catering are Julie and Greg Carioto. It warms my heart to catch up with old friends.
Julie and Greg drove the truck up the Northway and parked it on the Polo Meadow grounds at the Saratoga Casino Hotel to help add to the vibe, generously donating a catering package to the silent auction.
As I absorb the ambience (in theme with an Adirondack Summer); sample the foods (complete with hand-fired S’mores); sip my champagne and catch up with friends new and old, I am struck by the uniqueness of this, the Saratoga Hospital gala. My saratoga.com partners and I are fortunate enough to attend many events such as these throughout the summer. My challenge oftentimes is finding a fresh angle.
My goals are always: 1) shower attention on well-deserved charities and 2) share details with readers, helping you decide which galas to add to your list for next summer. My breadth of reporting knowledge, gleaned over 25 years (not to reveal my age, but ok, I may have started writing at the age of ten) of writing for television, print and digital mediums, does not include anything within the financial realm. I won’t pretend to possess an expert opinion on how to make it work for your budget.
My experience includes: thousands of interviews with people of all walks of life; thousands of events, things to do with and without kids, places to eat, etc; stories of heartache; stories of joy. From those experiences, I share this: add at least one of these events to your list and find a way to incorporate it into your budget. These are not exclusive, Saratoga-who’s-who-only events. Most are not even invite only. The causes are vital and the experience worthwhile.
This is absolutely one of my favorite galas. The committee doesn’t disappoint, traditionally selecting a unique theme and decking the halls until it the grounds are “on fleek.” You’ll find amazing energy vibrating between the guests. I’m not certain why that strikes me here, perhaps because many are doctors, nurses, chiropractors, pharmacists, surgeons, radiology technicians. They dedicate their lives to helping others. Plus, as my paid job places me in the role of pharmaceutical representative, many are my friends. The monies raised benefit Saratoga Hospital’s Saratoga Community Center (the only facility in the Capital Region, by the way, to provide high quality, routine healthcare to individuals regardless of their inability to pay).
We are more than halfway through the gala season. To date, favorites have been the Saratoga Hospital Gala, the Ballet Gala and Siro’s Cup. My advice is this: attend at least one. Don’t let life pass you by without getting out there, without getting involved. Whether you are on the gala committee (kudos to the group from the Saratoga Hospital gala, outstanding job!), or a ticket holder— you matter. Your money matters. Your energy matters. And let’s just be honest and tell it like it is, dolled up faces and pretty dresses matter. Furthermore, I assure you, it’s a fabulous time.
I bite into a S’More as I wave goodbye to new friends. Turns out I’m not glamping tonight. I re-join my saratoga.com crew as Joe Putrock (wouldn’t be an event without him) snaps one last photo. Memories: must add that to my list. Turns out I already have “time with friends” covered.
Photo Interlude One
Good Old-Fashioned Fashion Fun!
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Of all Saratoga’s BIG summer parties this year, I vote Saratoga hospital’s 35th Annual Summer Gala #1 for good old-fashioned fashion fun! The Polo Meadow at Saratoga Casino was the venue and despite the fact this particular event is one of the Capital Region’s largest charitable fundraisers– raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hospital’s Saratoga Community Health Center–the formal dress and stuffiness you might expect was eliminated when organizers chose an “Adirondack Summer” themed party. Thank you committee members! This was a breath of fresh air and nice change of pace for those of us who have a “bear” of a time 😉 deciding what to wear!
Speaking of bears, nothing screams “Welcome to the party” quite like the 7 foot black one we bumped into as Carrie and I made our way inside! Okay…it wasn’t a REAL bear but pretty scary nonetheless, and one of the many Adirondack themed props that made for a great photo op!
Inside the party tents, the décor was charming–all that you would imagine an Adirondack theme to be: Leafy tall trees and birch wood strategically placed heightened the woodsy feel. Outside, the 1940s style food truck display from Classic Crust Mobile Catering added to the casual yet classic ambience! The cuisine however, was anything but casual and if you had the opportunity to taste test you’d have been absolutely delighted. One taste of that jumbo shrimp and you were hooked!
Need I go into detail about the dessert bar? Okay, if you insist… dessert bar was a total hit! Tasty cakes, chocolate mousse, rock candies, and of course s’mores were just a few guest favorites.
Moving to my favorite part of the evening… Who wore what! Casual cocktail was the attire for this themed party and most everyone in attendance embraced it! Once again the gentlemen got it right! My favorite was Lance Meeson who donned a brightly colored floral print blazer from a store you would least expect (see below) Check out the wonderfully dressed party-goers and note our favorites!
Photo Interlude Two
Saratoga Hospital’s TCB Allows Goodness to Emerge
SARATOGA SPRINGS – In 2015, I landed what we in the reporter biz call: “A great ‘Get'”… an exclusive interview with a superior individual who rarely did interviews.
That man was Dr. Desmond DelGiacco. His name is one of two which appear atop Saratoga Hospital’s $10 million Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
The other name? Marylou Whitney.
At the time of the interview, the beloved caregiver – “Dr. Del” – had been at Saratoga Hospital since 1981, had seen all the growth, and had done much to help steward it. As I walked around the Polo Meadow on Wednesday, August 2, marvelling at the products of the so many people’s hard work and effort, and all the happy people who attended, what struck me was a simple quote from that interview with ‘Dr. Del.’ He was discussing the macro-economic trends (Corporate Healthcare, Big HMO’s and Insurance providers) that were driving many many Community Hospitals from the American landscape:
“But this community is different.” Dr. DelGiacco said, “It stepped up to support the Board and executive management. This community said it wanted an excellent hospital; it expects an excellent hospital.”
“And now they have an excellent hospital.”
And yet, getting from the ‘wanting’ and the ‘expecting’ to the ‘having’- is the result of the combined efforts of many people ‘doing’ – or perhaps, DOING! Doing many little things that add up to big ones. Honoring the people (tonight’s guests of honor were Ms. Whitney and Dr. Joseph W. Bell) who helped get you there.
As a member of the Gala ticket-buying public AKA an attendee, you have every right to ‘want’ to be at a perfect event; and ‘expect’ to show up dolled up, fully confident that every little detail has been checked and double-checked.
(Go back and take a look at the top two pics in this post.) These are the people, your neighbors and your friends, who help to assure that you ‘have’…
As in, have a magnificent evening.
Which you did, because Saratoga Hospital TCB’s like no other. Year after year.
Some might see the sub-head to this post, with the ‘Business of Goodness’ phrase, as crass or provocative, but I don’t see a thing wrong with saying it.
For Goodness – well, it’s always good, of course, but frequently goodness needs some ‘business plan’ type-help to fully emerge.
Lest you show up to another gala and see many nice people hugging trees and eating granola out of (bio-degradable) cups with their fingers, instead of the spectacle that laid before you on this evening.
No, Saratoga Hospital Foundation takes care of its business. which is The Business of Goodness. I sincerely bow to the Masters – No surprise, just my usual astonishment…
You’ve done it again.
August 9, 2017
Editor’s Note: When the totals are finalized, Mandy Mittler will have a follow-up with the details, and where your contributions go.