Event season is back and we couldn’t be more excited! It’s always great to cover New York City events and highlight the work of the many charities that are doing a great job raising funds and raising awareness for those in need. We had the opportunity to sit down with Michele Hall Duncan, President & CEO of enCourage Kids Foundation. We certainly enjoy covering their events throughout the year and we look forward to covering enCourage Kids 37order Annual Gala on Wednesday, May 11.
Social Lifestyle: How Great Events Are Back and EnCourage Children’s Fund has 37order The annual Gala will take place May 11 at Cipriani South Street. Can you tell us what the store has in store for the night?
Michele Hall Duncan: We are very excited to be planning a Live Gala Dinner on the 11thorder. We have over 400 guests expected, the food is going to be amazing, and we are delighted to host it at Cipriani South Street, which is truly one of the most beautiful event venues in the city. This will be a very special evening for us as we are honoring the legacy of our late director of the board, Jay Anderson of the Feil Foundation, who passed away last year. We have planned a special honor and then will present him with the Jeffrey Gural Leadership Award, named after our Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors, which recognizes outstanding individuals who reflect on it. the humanitarian and philanthropic values of Jeff and those committed to bringing joy to children and their families.
Social Lifestyle: What program will the funds raised from the show support?
Michele Hall Duncan: Well, Jay is a huge supporter of our foundation program, the Pediatric Hospital Support Program (PHSP), so the proceeds from the Gala will fund that program, we will renamed the Jay Anderson Children’s Hospital Endowment Fund in his honor.
Social Lifestyle: Can you tell us a little bit about Jay Anderson and how he supports the enCourage Children’s Fund?
Michele Hall Duncan: Jay has a heart of gold and the best sense of humor. He has served on our board of directors for 20 years and, more recently, on our Board of Directors. He really loves our Children’s Hospital Support Program and the impact it has on enhancing the level of care our hospital partners can provide. Since 1996, PHSP has provided more than $16 million in grants for projects and programs such as creative therapy, pet therapy, playroom renovation, and technology for distraction entertainment and education. diagnostic education — many of which would be completely unfunded without our support. We are delighted to have this opportunity at our Gala to interact with our sponsors and appreciate the invaluable contribution Jay has made to our organization and the impact of his support. it for many years to come.
Social Lifestyle: Do you see the difference with hospitals and support staff as COVID is almost behind us?
Michele Hall Duncan: Most of our partners are no longer in a state of crisis, which is a huge relief, but for many, the effects of the pandemic may have changed, but the impact is still being felt. receive and have far-reaching influence. We’ve seen a dramatic shift in their focus on addressing the mental health challenges and concerns that children are facing right now because of the pandemic. With so much interaction happening in cyberspace, children are missing out on the social and emotional benefits that come with going to school and social interactions. Distance learning in particular amplifies disparities that previously existed in underserved communities and minority populations. The National Institute of Mental Health says that suicide is the second leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 20. That statistic is startling and disturbing. As a result, hospitals are struggling to meet new and diverse needs.
Social Lifestyle: What have you done recently with the hospital children’s fund?
Michele Hall Duncan: The pandemic has kept us busy. We work with more than 300 hospitals nationwide, including 130 in the NYC Metro area. Our focus from the beginning has been to engage and help flooded communities, providing the support and vital resources they need only, when they need it. Our relationship with the children’s life community puts us in a unique position to be the organization they can contact when they need help. With one of the clear realities that have come to light over the past year is the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and social development of children, we are working with our hospital partners. themselves to address these needs. Thanks to funding from the Cabrini Maternal Health Foundation, we are working on a program to provide pediatric patients with custom activity kits that we call Mental Health Comfort Kits. specifically designed to address some of the special needs of this growing population, including adolescents at risk of self-harm. Through social media and fundraising campaigns, we have been working to shed light on some of the challenges our pediatric partners are facing in addressing the need mental health services and to amplify the work enCourage Kids is doing to provide support and resources.
Social Lifestyle: As we near the end of Autism Awareness Month, what role do Child Incentive Programs play for hospitalized children with autism?
Michele Hall Duncan: We find that many of our hospital partners are looking for resources to help this population of children that has grown dramatically over the past few years. Last year, through our Pediatric Hospital Support Program, we funded the Sensory Information Care Task Force at Children’s Hospital New Orleans to deliver the Information Care Kit Sense for all pediatric units and clinics off-site. The kit contains various sensory items that children with those needs have a taste for, helping to soothe them and help them have a better hospital experience. We funded that project because the new director of children’s lives there discovered the hospital served a large number of children with autism and other related disorders, but there were disparities in what they give them compared to other children in their care. Feedback from childcare staff and parents has been overwhelmingly positive. Parents and family members are surprised and grateful that the hospital has the right kind of tools to help their child through the often traumatizing and worrying experience.
Social Lifestyle: What would you like to see from the guests at the upcoming gala?
Michele Hall Duncan: We are really looking forward to interacting with sponsors after having to cancel the 2020 Gala and not be able to hold it in 2021 due to the pandemic. There will be a mix of new and long-time donors participating, and we feel it’s important to provide them with the opportunity to feel connected to the mission. We think the program of events we have planned will do just that.
Social Lifestyle: In what ways can our readers get involved with the organization?
Michele Hall Duncan: The best way to learn more and get involved is to visit our website and follow us on social media so you can see the kids we serve and how we work with them. hospitals across the country. Take a look at the key programs we’re sponsoring and see which ones interest you. If you are in the New York City area, consider volunteering or joining our Council of Young Professionals.
Social Lifestyle: Still planning on hosting the annual enCourage Kids and Serving Smiles event this year?
Michele Hall Duncan: It’s correct! We are really looking forward to hosting Golf Outing and Serving Smiles events this year again! Serving Up Smiles will take place on October 18order at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, a beautiful waterfront space with views of the Hudson River. Since we started the event 7 years ago, it has grown into one of our most anticipated events. Our vision is to bring together some of the best chefs and restaurateurs the city has to offer. We will also feature excellent winery representation and craft cocktails. This will be a great opportunity for our community to support the work of the enCourage Kids Foundation and sample food from some of the city’s best dining establishments while enjoying live music and a chat. Interesting silent auction. Our annual golf tournament will take place on Monday, July 18order at the Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Now at the age of 19order Every year, the event attracts participants from the construction, utilities, engineering, building maintenance and services industries, which are the backbone of the real estate industry. We’ll be sharing details on our website and social media channels for both events as we get closer to the date, so stay tuned!
Social Lifestyle: Thank you for speaking with us and we look forward to seeing you at the Gala.
Michele Hall Duncan: Nice to meet you there!