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How to Support Autism Speaks for Less than the Cost of a Minivan

July 15, 2010 1 comment

This guest post is by Sarah Schaffer, an AS2YP event committee member and employee of BlackRock.

Manhattan is a competitive landscape for just about everything, from career path to sample sales to SoulCycle spinning classes (yes, I too have frantically refreshed my computer as classes for the coming week are released). When I embarked on fulfilling my New Year’s resolution last year to give back to the community, I found that even philanthropy in Manhattan was yet another application process.  As I sifted through applications and interview schedules and tentatively committed to Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m in business casual to help empower women in the community, I soon realized I could not maintain such a rigorous schedule and keep my day job. It became quickly apparent that I would never be able to compete with the ladies who lunch (who should really be rebranded as ladies who lunch and volunteer).

After taking a much-needed step back I realized I was approaching the process too scientifically. No one should need approval or admittance to give back to their community. The search should be far more organic. What do I care about? What cause needs attention, especially in my age group? If I barely have time to take my dry cleaning out of the plastic, do I have time to volunteer and where can I make a difference?

These answers are completely personal to the individual, but I soon realized I cared most about helping children – maybe because they cannot help themselves or maybe just because I know I will be a mother one day and have children of my own. As for a topic that lacks attention among my age group (for the record I am twenty-something, that’s all I will divulge), I found autism to be a perfect candidate. There are mothers and fathers who are pioneering for education, awareness, and support for autism today, but this is not a disorder that typically garners awareness among the youth of Manhattan. We are the parents of tomorrow and any disorder that is statistically growing this rapidly should be something we fight for today.

The Autism Speaks to Young Professionals (AS2YP) initiative gave me the perfect opportunity to help change my future. The committee provides different levels of volunteerism to ensure that everyone involved is able to give back whether it is weekly, monthly, or yearly. As a member of AS2YP I learned that some very hip and happening individuals in New York City have been touched by autism. This translates to us hosting our fundraisers at locales you generally cannot get into on a standard Thursday night (without buying a table for the price of a minivan). Or sometimes, events are hosted in a space so completely unique you could find yourself partying on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange – like our first event last year.

All AS2YP events generally end with droves of young professionals being slightly less professional on the dance floor. I expect no less from Round Two at the New York Stock Exchange on August 5.  Come join us from 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. for cocktails and dancing for this pertinent and fabulous cause. Some dance moves are better than others, but hey, it’s for charity!  If the DJ doesn’t stop taking my requests like last year, we will even play a little Britney for you (don’t lie, you love it).  Hope to see you all there.

Tickets are available online, starting at $75. Ticket price includes admission, passed appetizers, open bar, dancing and the opportunity to support Autism Speaks while meeting other New York-area young professionals.

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Young Professionals Winter Gala Raises Over $33,000

January 12, 2010 Leave a comment

More than 200 guests attended the AS2YP Winter Gala. Photo by Josh Wong.

NYC celebrity hotspot SL hosted more than 200 young professionals, on the evening of January 7, for the second in the Autism Speaks to Young Professionals (AS2YP) event series, raising over $33,000. The Winter Gala, hosted by event co-chairs Amanda Niederauer and Danny Ryan, offered guests an open bar, delicious appetizers by Abe & Arthur’s chef Franklin Becker and dancing to tunes spun by DJs Caleb Loftus and Nick Russo. The hundreds of guests complemented their fashionable attire, and raised autism awareness, by sporting the Autism Speaks puzzle pin.

The inaugural summer event, held at the Stock Exchange, sold out three days before the event and raised over $40,000. Danielle Yango, who attended both events, commented, “It was so great to be at events where everyone there was inspired by and engaged in the reason for being there – to raise autism awareness and to raise funds for Autism Speaks. Despite twenty-somethings not having a lot of money to spare, the event was filled with people wanting to do and give more. Change and improvement only happen when people take action, and this event is a prime example of people actively participating!”

Another guest, committee member Hallie Elsner remarked, “Despite the frigid temperature in New York City, it was amazing to see how many people made it out to support the first event of the year for AS2YP. It was a great way to kick off 2010!” Caite Kappel, another committee member in attendance, agreed, “It was great to have so many passionate people together in one amazing venue. The event went a long way to promote awareness of the disorder and I was thrilled to hear about all the money that was raised.  I can’t wait for the next event!” 

The event, described as “fun,” “hip,” and “trendy” by the guests in attendance attracted not only people who have a loved one with autism, but people who wanted to learn more about the disorder. Throughout the evening, a presentation on the television screens reinforced the CDC’s most recent findings that 1 in 110 children has autism.

Joshua Feldman, an active supporter of Autism Speaks and an ASY2P committee member  said, “After participating in both Autism Speaks and AS2YP events, I realize the attendees to both are instrumental in the future of autism awareness and research. I think the AS2YP Winter Gala was extremely successful, because while other events may raise more money near-term, this event opened the eyes of tomorrow’s benefactors who can support Autism Speaks and its goals in the future.” 

Event co-chair, Amanda Niederauer, hopes to expand the success of the Young Professionals events to other cities across the country. Amanda said, “I am so happy that the event was such a huge success. With the statistics so drastically increased to 1 in 110 children, our work is even more important. I think we have a terrific thing started with the Young Professionals series, and it is such an honor to be involved in spreading awareness to the next generation of parents.”

Special thanks to our co-chairs, committee members, guests, and sponsors – Manhattan Beer Distributors, Montecastelli Selections, RBS and Alacrity Financial.

Become a fan of AS2YP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/as2yp to stay up-to-date with events and check out event photos by Josh Wong. The AS2YP event series will return to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this August.

Check out coverage and photos from the event:

CharityHappenings.org

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Scene B Seen, llc

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