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Art By: Chris Muzzio

Matter of Taste 2012 Press Release

Despite hurricane setbacks, annual gourmet gala thrives

Proceeds will benefit people with autism and other developmental disabilities

HAWTHORNE, NY – December 3, 2012 - Arc of Westchester Foundation held its annual “A Matter of Taste” event on Tuesday, November 27 from 6 to 9 pm at the historic CV Rich Mansion in White Plains. Over 320 guests attended the gala. The event raised over $166,000 - a record breaking amount for the annual affair. Proceeds will support Arc of Westchester programs for people with autism and other developmental disabilities that have been affected by drastic budget cuts.

Hurricane Sandy added to the organization’s already stressed budget and cost $385,000 in emergency equipment, structural repairs, fuel and transportation costs and lost revenue.

The annual fundraiser was originally scheduled for the day Hurricane Sandy hit. It was rescheduled repeatedly but the dedicated staff at Arc of Westchester Foundation didn’t let that deter them from making this year’s event a resounding success.

Anne Sweazey, Executive Director of the Arc of Westchester Foundation, says, “We are grateful to all the guests and culinary talent who made this such a memorable evening. After all the recent stress and anxiety caused by the hurricane, we enjoyed this opportunity to celebrate with friends and supporters and raise critically needed funds for our programs and services.”

The event offered delicacies from some of the area’s premier restaurants (full list below) accompanied by fine wine, beer and spirits Local entrepreneurs donated all food, beverages and culinary talent. Event attendees participated in a live and silent auction, a raffle, and a wine pull containing over 100 bottles of unique wines.

The annual event honored the Ferguson Family, formerly of Sleepy Hollow, NY, with the Family Partner Award. The Ferguson’s have been dedicated supporters of Arc of Westchester since the birth of their daughter Beth, over 40 years ago (See bio below)

The foundation also honored Sabrina Wirth, a student at Scarsdale Middle School, with The Youth Partnership Award. Ms. Wirth created a community service project to raise funds for Arc of Westchester on behalf of her friend who has autism. (See bio below)

Adrienne J. Arkontaky, Esq., Cuddy Law Firm, and Peter Herrero, Jr., president and owner of the New York Hospitality Group, co-chaired the event.


List of Participating Restaurants and Beverage Providers:

Abigail Kirsch Catering Relationships
An American Bistro
Artuso & Sons Pastry & Café
Caperberry Events
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company
Cathy’s Biscotti
Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
Eastchester Fish Gourmet
The Grape Exchange
G & K Sweet Foods
Great American Barbeque
Guapo Cocina Mexicana
Johnny Gelato
Licor 43 Liqueur
The Grape Exchange
The Melting Pot
Zuppa Restaurant and Lounge

Bios for Event Honorees:

The Ferguson Family - Family Partner Award Recipients
The Ferguson Family has been involved with Arc of Westchester for over 40 years. Douglas and Cynthia’s dedication was initiated with the birth of their daughter, Beth. They turned to Arc of Westchester to find a sharing community, companionship, and nurturing programs that would aid in her development. They looked towards the future for programs that would support Beth as she turned into an adult.

Beth attended several schools as she was growing up, including the Highland School. It was a proud day for the whole family when Beth participated in the Elmsford High School graduation, marching in cap and gown at the ceremony. 
Cynthia describes her daughter as having a strong, unique personality. “There isn’t much that gets past her,” Cynthia says. “Beth is keenly observant and recognizes unexpected details. She enjoyed Arc of Westchester’s Camp Echo and always notices the exit to Camp Echo when we pass the exit on the highway.”

Cynthia and Doug were part of a group that started the Mid-Hudson League out of Irvington. Members of the League undertook projects to raise funds to benefit Arc of Westchester programs. The League also ran a summer day camp for kids with developmental disabilities. 
Doug served on Arc of Westchester’s Board from 1982 to 2000- serving both as Treasurer and President. He was also an active member of NYSARC’s Board of Governors. Cynthia has been an active member of the Matter of Taste and Gala Committees for many years. Beth’s brothers Jonathan and Keith contribute their financial expertise to the agency’s Budget and Finance and Investment Policy Committees.

Beth resides at an Arc of Westchester group residence, Mamaroneck Manor, in White Plains with five other women. 
As for the family’s long commitment to Arc of Westchester, Cynthia says, “It’s who we are. After all, if we don’t support these programs, why should anyone?”

Sabrina Wirth - Youth Partner Award Recipient
Sabrina Wirth is a student at Scarsdale Middle School. She is the daughter of Lynda and Michael Wirth, and has an older brother, Harrison. As part of her recent Bat Mitzvah preparation, Sabrina undertook a community service project to raise money for the Arc of Westchester, setting a goal of $5,000. 

Sabrina’s interest in the Arc of Westchester arose from her family friendship with Alex Masket, a 25 year old with severe autism who lives in one of Arc of Westchester’s supervised residences. Their special connection was forged through art - Sabrina and Alex are each talented artists and creating art is an important aspect of their lives.

To accomplish her fundraising goal, Sabrina started the “A” Project. The “A” represents Autism, Alex, and the Arc of Westchester. She created a two minute video appeal with Alex, in which she highlights their similarities, but also acknowledges that unlike her, Alex will never live an independent life and is reliant on services from the Arc of Westchester. The video generated hundreds of views through various websites and social media outlets. Sabrina is also selling autism awareness bracelets to raise funds.

Sabrina was a frequent attendee at A Matter of Taste Committee meetings and intends to stay involved with the Arc of Westchester. As she said in her video, “Knowing Alex has taught me that people with developmental disabilities deserve a life that’s happy and full. They just need more help getting there.”

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