Wednesday, December 07, 2016

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Ripple of Hope Awards Draws Star-Studded Crowd to the Hilton

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
All photos Lieba Nesis
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The Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Awards took place at the Hilton hotel with cocktails beginning at 5:30 PM. The award celebrates leaders of the business, entertainment and activist communities who have demonstrated a commitment to social change. Tonight there was an epic red carpet to welcome celebrities: Alec Baldwin,  Lorraine Bracco, Tim Daly, Trevor Donovan, Danny DeVito, Harry Belafonte, Alan Alda, Rosie Perez, Joy Behar, Scott Wolf, Danny Glover, Michael Bolton, Kate Mulgrew and many others.

Ethel Kennedy, VP Joe Biden with wife Jill, and CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz

There was also a heavy Secret Service presence due to one of the night's honoree's being Vice President Joe Biden. Additional recipients of the Ripple of Hope Award included Scott Minerd, CIO of Guggenheim Partners, and Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. The emcee of the evening was comedian Kevin Nealon, who relied heavily on Donald Trump jokes saying that he [Nealon] was being considered for Secretary of State and that the first time Donald Trump got to say it's over to a woman without having to pay millions in alimony was with Hillary Clinton. Kerry Kennedy, who is President of the organization, encouraged the audience to hug each other during these tumultuous times.

Honoree Scott Minerd

Ethel Kennedy, looking fantastic at the age of 88, received a standing ovation, and presented the award to Scott Minerd and Joe Biden. Minerd, has the build of a football player with the brains of a mathematical genius, and had the audience enraptured with his moving speech on the importance of helping others and commenting he felt unworthy of the award since acts of altruism should be done in private.

Danny Glover

Minerd, who works tirelessly with the homeless and indigent, urged the audience to touch the world where they live. When I had the opportunity to catch up with Minerd later in the evening he told me that the "democratic process had worked fine in the election" and that the economy will do well because of Trump's supply side tax cuts and building of infrastructure - both highly stimulating to the economy. However, the risk of trade wars and deporting undocumented workers were issues that Minerd felt could be "highly regressive."

Danny DeVito

Someone highly active in the election was Joe Biden who received his award and said this was the "single greatest honor" he was ever given and that Robert Kennedy was his only political hero. Biden recounted losing his wife and daughter in a car crash and Ted Kennedy being the first to show up at the hospital and Rose Kennedy being one of the first to call. Biden also remarked that he had campaigned for Hillary at 84 different events and that he tries to listen but "it is so damn hard to do." Biden recalled that when he got elected to the Senate he was so young that he was the first Senator he ever knew.

Actress Lorraine Bracco and singer Michael Bolton

The evening had a morose undertone with the audience lamenting the recent election and a number of actors including Baldwin and Alda reciting a serious play and Michael Bolton singing a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." The Harlem choir enlivened the crowd with their beautiful tunes and the crowd got up from their chairs to sing and dance cathartically.

Hilaria and Alec Baldwin

After dinner was served, Alec Baldwin tried to raise money without much success. Baldwin himself gave $10,000 and did a couple of Trump imitations exhorting the audience to give $5,000 with a promise that Baldwin would come to their town and pretend he was Donald Trump. I am not sure if this offer was sincere, however, Baldwin seemed inspired to raise as much money as possible.

Jean Shafiroff in Oscar and Rachel Hirschfeld

At the late hour of 9:45 PM, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, was introduced by Senator Bill Bradley. Schultz gave a moving speech about growing up in a housing project in Canarsie and how the importance of optimism and giving back had driven him. Schultz spoke without notes and ended off by saying, "your station in life should not and will not define you."

Advocate Andrea James and actress Rosie Perez

Schultz, who will be retiring in April, came to Starbucks when the stock was at $8 and is now leaving with the stock at an adjusted basis of $115. He has sent more than 6,000 Starbucks baristas to College, with a goal of 25,000, and hired more than 8,000 military veterans - while still maintaining a stellar bottom line. At the conclusion of the evening, there were small petit fours served outside - a delightful conclusion to an important evening.





- Lieba Nesis

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