Honoring Judy Collins At
Dinner For Mental Health
Story by Nina Boxer
Photos by Patrick McMullan
ORE than 300 guests helped raise $300,000 for Community Access, making the 30th anniversary celebration at Chelsea Piers Lighthouse a resounding triumph. The dinner’s success is also due in large part to Patricia Warburg Cliff, senior vice president of the Corcoran Group. Ms Cliff, who served as the evening’s co-chair, has been working to improve the lives of the mentally ill for many years.
It was quite appropriate that they honored legendary singer-songwriter Judy Collins who recounted her struggles with personal problems.
She said she grew up in Denver in a family troubled with alcoholism and depression – but nobody at that time talked about it. "Secrets make us sick. When we’re able to share, it gives us hope."
"I tried to take my life at 14," she said. "Nobody called a therapist. Nobody called the family doctor."
She came to New York in 1963 and started recording folk music. "I was extremely chaotic and totally depressed."
She traveled all over the country, sometimes doing three shows a night. She was burning out. When she returned to New York she tried to get help. "I could not afford it," she said, "but I knew I needed it desperately."
"Music has saved my sanity and given me peace of mind."
She praised Community for its extraordinary effort in helping people "reach out to find better days."
"We want so much to see parity of mental health with physical health."
President Steve Chase announced that Community Access experienced a growth spurt in its housing development. "Last March we opened our newest project in Brooklyn. In the next nine months we’ll open four more buildings in the Bronx and Manhattan."
The silent auction included a Francesco Scavullo signed photo book, a hot pink Marc Jacobs handbag, a Bernadette Peters poster, and a Mario Bedescu spa treatment.
Among the guests were Debbie Bancroft, Hermes’ Robert Chavez, Dan Rattiner and Chris Wasserstein, Sean Byrnes, R. Couri Hay, Leah McCloskey, Norma Jean Darden, Peter Smit and Mary Ann Richmond, Martin Snaric and executive director Steve Coe.