Charles and Clo Cohen, the New York City Fire Department, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a 90-year-old Reader and others to be honored at Lighthouse International Volunteer Recognition Event

June 10, 2011…Twenty two outstanding volunteers, two corporations, a city agency and two organizations were honored last night by Lighthouse International at its fifth annual Lighthouse Volunteer Recognition Award Ceremony. Lori Stokes, morning news anchor for WABC-TV Eyewitness News was the Master of Ceremonies at the event which celebrated the dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers who support the Lighthouse mission of enabling people who are visually impaired to live productively.

According to Mark G Ackermann, President and CEO of Lighthouse International. “The talent, spirit and dedication of these extraordinary volunteers inspire us every day and help sustain the organization and our clients.”

The recipients were:

The Winifred and Edith Holt Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service Clo and Charles S. Cohen are two of our most generous philanthropists and volunteers. They donated more than $1 million last year to renovate our in-house Academy Theater. The stunning renovation greatly enhances our facility and our revenue potential. A member of the Lighthouse Board of Directors, as well as several Board committees, Charles has helped us refinance our mortgage and negotiate with tenants. His astute leadership and savvy business skills have saved millions of dollars for the Lighthouse.

Partnership Award: Ethel LeFrak and Somers Farkas. Somers Farkas Director of Special Events at Lighthouse facilitated a very generous multimillion dollar contribution by noted philanthropist Ethel LeFrak – to help improve the facilities or our renowned Child Development Center, a nationally recognized program where children who are visually impaired learn with their sighted peers for an enriching educational experience. The substantial gift from the Lefraks will enable us to have more teaching space and updated technologies, as well as future expansion.

Community Partnership Award: Fire Department — City of New York (FDNY) The FDNY was the perfect partner for our riders to rest when we began Double Up 4 Vision 2010 with a 24-hour 125 miles tandem bike relay through all five boroughs. Firehouse officers and firefighters were terrific hosts and ambassadors for the world’s busiest fire department. We extend our deep appreciation to Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, Deputy Commissioner Frank Gribbon and Director of Special Events Lenore Koehler for their support and all the officers and firefighters we visited.

Special Events Awards: Carol Giustino, Stephen Pearlman, Dale Simpson and Carolyn Zonino. Forming a terrific tandem bike procurement team they exceeded their goal and located more than 75 tandem bikes — despite the limited availability of these special bikes — plus 15 tagalongs for children and ten bikes with baby seats. This feat made it possible for more than 200 participants to ride together and share the experience.

The Judy Van Nostrand Leadership Award: The Calvo Family. In honor of two-year-old Lauren Calvo — daughter of Tom and Kim, granddaughter of Rita and Joe, niece of Joseph and Mimi, and sister of Matthew — the tight-knit Calvo family created “Lauren’s Heroes,” a truly dedicated Double Up 4 Vision team. Their commitment stems from their gratitude for the help Lauren, who was born with a rare eye condition, has received from the Lighthouse Early Intervention Program. She has blossomed in so many ways since receiving vision and physical therapy, inspiring her family to give back. With great enthusiasm they exceeded their goal and raised $21,000 from over 100 donors, including family, friends, corporate colleagues and neighbors from their Staten Island community.

Philanthropy Award: Mark Carhart and Artie Elefant. As members of Double Up 4 Vision’s exploratory committee, they helped assess the feasibility of the event and then they solicited family, friends, colleagues and former business partners for their financial support. They raised $20,000 for Lighthouse services. Then, they teamed up to help kick off the event in the 24 hour ride.

Professional Services Award: Bil Donovan. This year our major fashion fundrasier POSH® Sale relocated to the Plaza Hotel. To give it a new look, Bil Donovan, did not hesitate to offer his talent and his services. An artist and gifted fashion illustrator, Bil’s prestigious clients include Christian Dior — where he is the first artist-in-residence for Christian Dior Beauty; Givenchy; Yves St. Laurent; and Vogue and Elle magazines. He donated $25,000-30,000 worth of his professional time. He drew 12 glamorous images within a mere 24 hours! We used this series on all marketing and event materials, including invitations, ads, the POSH® website and signage.

Reading Services Award: David Judson. For more than ten years volunteer reader David Judson — 90 years young — reads mail and newspapers to his longtime clients and helps her pay bills in a timely fashion, filled out myriad forms — and even organized her records during a stressful tax season. She deeply appreciates his dedication and continuous service and says, “David prevents me from being buried under a mountain of mysterious paperwork!” David is very reliable and arrives earlier early to fit in an extra half hour of reading and has a wonderful sense of humor and generosity. David is an extraordinary volunteer and has made a real difference in her life and she always looks forward to their sessions and lively discussions. She considers him to be a valued friend.

General Support Services Award: Virginia Holloway. A volunteer for 17½ Virginia Holloway is one of our “unsung heroes.” Every week she generously gives ten hours of her time to Volunteer Resources and four hours to Reading Services. Known as the “official” timekeeper, she collects records and updates data, compiles monthly timekeeping reports and does much more. Virginia, who never fails to smile, is also a self-starter who takes the initiative to solve problems.

Corporate Partnership Award: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For more than ten years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has shared its film resources and audiences with us. This wonderful corporate partnership has greatly enhanced our Conference Center rental offerings — and, since opening, has generated more than $500,000 in support of the Lighthouse mission of fighting vision loss. Last year we partnered with them again during the theater renovation project to install new projection and sound technologies, including 3-D, further enhancing our ability to attract rental clients and increase revenue.

Good Neighbor Award: Christoph Schmidinger, Regional VP and General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel, New York. Our friends at the luxurious, five-star, five-diamond Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street are renowned for their fine cuisine Under the leadership of Christoph Schmidinger, Regional VP and General Manager, the hotel caters our events with delicious delicacies and has made number of other in-kind contributions to our Volunteer celebrations. Including a complimentary weekend stay at the hotel.

President’s Lifetime Service Award: The Women’s Committee of Lighthouse International. The Women’s Committee of Lighthouse International has been an influential force since the early 1940s. Founded by incredibly dedicated women whose foresight helped to bring public attention to vision impairment, and created extraordinary events, such as POSH® — our signature fashion fundraiser — the Women’s Committee is the jewel in the crown of Lighthouse volunteerism. President Carol Dudley Katzka continues in this the tradition of leadership to help the people we serve. The Women’s Committee continues to be a valued and powerful philanthropic partner.

About Lighthouse International
Founded in 1905, Lighthouse International is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to fighting vision loss through prevention, treatment and empowerment. It achieves this through clinical and rehabilitation services, education, research and advocacy. For more information about vision loss and its causes, contact Lighthouse International at 1-800-829-0500 or visit



Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   Watch us on Youtube   Email   Visit our Flickr