april sparklers: those who choose to shine
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Sparklers is a monthly series that highlights people, groups and institutions who have recently spread light in the world. Every day, people choose to shine in ways large and small. These moments of grace and generosity don’t always get reported on, and unfortunately they can be quickly forgotten. So we’re sharing some of their stories. Because sometimes good news and kindness are the sweetest luxuries of all.
From protecting our planet to taking care of others in need and overcoming the impossible, here are some of the stories that touched and inspired us this month.
1. Following the devastating loss of his restaurant in an electrical fire last year, on May 9th Chef Bruno Serato is reopening his acclaimed restaurant Anaheim White House to its tony clientele. But the establishment opened its doors a month early to some younger patrons who look to Chef Bruno for one of their only regular meals of the day. For over a decade, Serato has been feeding thousands of kids in Southern California every day through his charity Caterina’s Club, named after his late mother. Despite dealing with the loss and rebuilding of his restaurant, Serato never gave up his charitable project. He made a solemn promise that the children would be the first ones to dine at his refurbished restaurant. Good to his word, on April 10th Serato served pasta, chicken and dessert. If that were not enough, the proceeds of his new cookbook The Power of Pasta also benefit Caterina’s Club. Food for the soul. Thank you, Chef.
2. A night in a hotel is, by definition, single use. After each visitor, the sheets and room are cleaned, the toiletries and mini bar are restocked and a new key card issued – each action leaving its own impact on the environment. Ian Schrager’s boutique luxury hotel chain, EDITION Hotels, is trying to change that. In honor of Earth Day, they’ve pledged to eliminate single use plastic from all of their hotels by this time next year. The campaign was inspired by recent anti-plastic activism in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Four of the brand’s existing properties in London, New York, Miami and Sanya, China have already begun radical reductions in plastic use in their minibars, straws, toothbrushes, food containers and coffee cup lids. Key cards and bathroom amenities are areas where EDITION is still seeking to find viable solutions. Each of EDITION’s seven planned property openings during the next 18 months will from the start be plastic free. EDITION is also leading a committee of influential hoteliers to look at industry wide solutions to the plastic problem. Nice work!
3. Joan Hart of Queens, New York has cuddled over 10,000 NICU babies. Joan, 81, is neither a nurse nor a parent nor a relative. She is a volunteer “cuddler” at New York-Presbyterian’s NICU Cuddler Program. Joan has volunteered at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital for nine years and was the hospital’s first cuddler. On Tuesday mornings she travels from Queens to the Washington Heights neighborhood in Manhattan, where she spends hours walking the halls offering comfort to the smallest of patients. For parents like Johanna Vidal, whose son David was born 8 weeks early, Joan has been like a grandmother – her cuddles have been a huge help to the working mother. According to Joanna, Joan “showed him love and support when I couldn’t be there. She has such an amazing heart. You can see she’s selfless and has such love and compassion. I’m so thankful for her.” So are we.
4. In honor of Earth Day, The RealReal and Stella McCartney have joined forces to foster industry-wide change in the fashion business regarding how consumers dispose of unwanted items. Their new initiative is called The Future of Fashion is Circular and it’s based on a “Make Well, Buy Well, Resell” model. The pair hope to get people to start thinking differently about fashion’s impact on the environment. This marks the first time a luxury brand is actively pushing for items to be consigned – doing so increases the product’s lifespan significantly, and also avoids disposal in landfills. The effort includes an incentive for shoppers: if they consign any Stella McCartney item to The RealReal, they will receive $100 to shop at Stella McCartney stores. In addition to the campaign, The RealReal is also hosting a charity sale benefiting Thames21, the U.K.’s river/waterway charity, featuring select sustainable pieces from Stella McCartney’s archive.
5. Having beaten cancer three times, Bostonian Mary Shertenlieb signed up to run in the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the renowned treatment and research center where she had been a patient. It was her first marathon, and due to the rain and cold winds, it was tough going. Around mile 13, Mary ducked into a medical tent, where a nurse told her that she was on the verge of hypothermia and should stop running. Still determined, she headed back out, but eventually called her husband to come pick her up, as the going was just too hard. But he had a different idea: she should come home and rest, and then they would go back and finish the last 15.5 miles together. After beginning the race at 11:15A on Monday, Mary crossed the finish line at 12:18A on Tuesday, and friends and race volunteers were there to greet her. Once news spread about her determination to go the distance, donations poured in. She has now raised more than $41,000 for Dana-Farber. Bravo! Boston Strong.
6. Outdoor brand North Face has been focusing on improving its sustainable manufacturing and delivery practices for the past few years. In that spirit, this year in honor of Earth Day the brand launched a new collection of t-shirts and tote bags made from cotton and recycled bottles sourced from the Yosemite, Grand Teton and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. With the sale of each shirt and bag, $1 goes back to the National Park Foundation to directly support sustainability projects such as bear-proof recycling bins and reusable water bottle filling stations. This project, known as the Bottle Source program, has already re-purposed more than 160,000 lbs. of plastic bottles. Epic.
7. Three million Italian honeybees were delivered to Bryant Park in New York City last week. This has become an annual springtime ritual: beekeepers come to the park and collect boxes of them to bring back to hives across the region. Bees work within a three-mile radius of their hives, so these emigres will help pollinate community gardens, rooftop installations, local bee yards and restaurant apiaries. Surely the sweet taste of summer can’t be far behind.
That’s all for this month. Choose to shine.