A week of celebrations


| vschneps@queenscourier.com |

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At the Futures in Education fundraiser were (from left) Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, Vicar for Development; Richard Grasso; Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn; honoree Raymond Kelly, NYC Police Commissioner; Most Reverend Raymond Chappetto, Vicar General.

What an extraordinary week. I got to kiss and hug the mayor, the governor, the police commissioner, the bishop, the former first lady, two bank presidents, multiple friends, and the best of the best, Joe and MaryAnn Mattone.

It was a wondrous week of galas and events. I’m glad I’m awake enough to write this after all the nights out.

It ended with a bang on Saturday night when I was sitting a table away from the Mattones and their old friends Mario and Matilda Cuomo. Because the senior Cuomo was late, his son, the governor, stood in for him and delighted everyone in the room of 800 people by mingling and taking photo after photo.

The party at the Waldorf Astoria ballroom was to celebrate the Columbus Citizens Foundation’s annual fundraising event that honors people who have given generously to the community. This year my friend Joe Mattone was honored alongside William Freda and the Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day parade, Joseph Perella. What a grand night it was.

The Mattone family and their friends have known what an extraordinary man Joe is as the patriarch of his large family of seven children and 29 grandchildren. He is a man who is adored, respected and generous, helping so many important causes, with his wife MaryAnn at his side also working tirelessly to benefit multiple organizations. The Columbus Citizens foundation that honored him has distributed millions of dollars in scholarships, grants and gifts to many charitable organizations.

It’s under their sponsorship that the Columbus Day parade has become one of New York’s signature events, drawing millions of people as the marchers make their way down Fifth Avenue.

Earlier in the week I was delighted to join the board member MaryAnn Mattone as the Queens Public Library held its annual fundraising gala at the stunningly beautiful Water’s Edge on the waterfront of Long Island City overlooking the sparkling lights of the Manhattan skyline. The mayor came to congratulate the library on its extraordinary service to the people of the borough. I got my kisses as he left, on his way to the next event. He appeared buoyant and joyful as he winds down his term. He will be missed. What a night!

Then there was another night out at the Waldorf Astoria on Wednesday night with Futures in Education, the fundraising arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, gathering pledges and funds for scholarships at the annual gala. It drew what appeared to be 1,000 people and raised $2 million. WOW!

I was delighted that honoree, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, got a standing ovation when he was brought to the podium. Anthony Bonomo, CEO of PRI-Administrators for the Professions, the other honoree, was also applauded.

Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello is a genius at raising the money needed to help keep parochial schools viable and provide millions of dollars in scholarships. I’m so happy to have been at the glamorous Waldorf ballroom with the Mattones, who generously support Futures.

On Friday night an important institution in Jamaica honored two of my favorite people, Helen Marshall, our beloved borough president, and Carlisle Towery, who has devoted decades of his life and career to building Jamaica as a viable business hub.

The event was the first gala of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning at its performing arts center, JPAC. It was a dress-up night that was the creation of board members Philippa Karteron and Peter Magnani, with the help of interim executive director Carl Fields, who was acknowledged during the event with a surprise award of appreciation.

I was extremely impressed by the jazz band that performed for the VIP audience, which was followed by a show of talented dancers, singers and musicians all performing in the handsomely redesigned church now, a stunning theater.

It was a week of wonderful celebrations from start to finish! And of course a visit to the LIC Flea to meet friends and family for a fun-filled lunch. It doesn’t get better than this.

Governor Andrew Cuomo helped pay tribute to this year’s Columbus Citizens Foundation honorees Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day parade, Joseph Perella; William Freda; and Joe Mattone. (Photo by Anita & Steve Shevett)

MaryAnn and Joe Mattone

Dr. Guy Bello, his daughter, Dr. Danielle Bello and Julie Mattone Bello.

Matilda Cuomo helped honor Joe Mattone at the Columbus Citizens Foundation’s annual fundraising event.