To the Rescue! NYC Gala
by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals, Causes.
Photo: Neilson Barnard / For the HSUS

Originally set for November 2nd, just days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast, the annual Humane Society of the United States’ ”To the Rescue” gala had to be rescheduled so they could focus on their real life saving work. Last night, a month and a half after Sandy, celebrities, supporters and activists all flocked to Ciprianis on 42nd street to celebrate the work of an incredible organization.

For the second year in a row, I was lucky enough to attend the black tie gala and get the inside scoop. (Detailed interviews will be posted over the next few days.) Attendees included the likes of Mayor BloombergGeorgina BloombergRose McGowanTricia HelferJill RappaportAmanda Hearst and many others.

Because most of us who attended are, in fact, New Yorkers, it felt like the event took on new meaning. President of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, told stories about how residents who were forced to leave their homes were giving their house keys to animal rescue workers and begging them to find their loved ones. Disaster response, whether it was during Katrina, Sandy or any of the other heartbreaking events that have occurred over the years, is something that HSUS specializes in. Last night felt like a big thank you for their work.

Of course, disaster response is just one part of what HSUS does to rescue animals. Whether it’s a raid on a puppy mill, rescuing animals from a hoarder, a dog fighting operation, neglect or any of the other dangerous situations humans inflict on animals, HSUS is on the scene to remove animals from danger.

Mayor Bloomberg, who was there to support his daughter Georgina (co-chair of the event) and to support HSUS, said about the organization’s recent efforts in New York City, “The Humane Society has been a good neighbor making sure that the area’s four legged citizens were cared for. The Society’s animal rescue teams did tremendous work in Sandy’s wake caring for animals in flooded areas and it’s just part of the live saving work that they do all year round across the country to help animals in crisis.”

While Rose McGowan and Tricia Helfer talked to the guests about their love for animals and the important work being done on their behalf, the rest of us indulged in a gorgeous four course meal prepared by celebrity chef Tal Ronnen. Since I know how much Ecorazzi readers love their food, I thought I’d give you the skinny on the menu.

We started with an arugula salad with pomegranate seeds, roasted pears, and candied walnuts with a herb vinaigrette. It was a really delicate and surprising mix of tastes that had me cleaning my plate. For the second course (and perhaps my favorite) we had a simple fusilli pasta bolognaise. For the third course the servers brought out Gardein marsala with morels, oven roasted brussels sprouts, pine nuts, cranberries with maple dijon sauce. I will say, while the texture of Gardein is generally a bit too firm for me, my husband (who used to love chicken before he gave up meat) said it was a perfect replica of the texture of actual chicken. He didn’t think an omnivore would be able to tell the difference. Incredible, right? Last but not least, for dessert we were served profiteroles with pistachio, coffee and vanilla ice cream. Phew. We were all so full we could barely go snack on the addition sweets that were offered a little bit later.

While good food and company were certainly a perk of the evening, everyone was truly there to raise funds for HSUS’s life saving work. And raise money they did. Before I left an HSUS staff member told me that they brought in over 1.5 million dollars last night! Just imagine how many lives those funds will save.

While the gala is called “To the Rescue” and the rescue work of the organization is highlighted, I’d like to echo what Wayne Pacelle said last night about going beyond removing animals from dangerous situations. If an organization only ever focused on rescuing animals who were already hurting, no one would be preventing the abuse from happening in the first place. Through advocacy and helping create stronger laws to protect animals, HSUS is saving lives before they are ever put in danger. That’s truly something to be thankful for.

Catch up with us over the next few days for video interviews with Wayne Pacelle, Tricia Helfer (who makes a great comment on the seal hunt), and Georgina Bloomberg. And consider coming next year to join in on the fun. You won’t regret it.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is a writer, teacher and activist. She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Ali is also a fiction writer. Her published work can be found on her website at aliberman.com. In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

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