Spring officially arrives on the Upper East Side with Jean Shafiroff
On the first day of spring, under a bright Manhattan sky radiating with sunshine and hope of warmer weather to come, I arrive on Park Avenue across a busy two-way avenue in search of Mrs. Jean Shafiroff.
I know the setting well (it is the Upper East Side, the part of Manhattan in which I always imagined I could live), and perhaps it’s a function of the narrowness of my desire that I find it so incredibly kind to have been invited by Shafiroff to many of her lavish parties at her Park Ave residence. But here Jean is, her skin glowing and hair red as if touched by some distant sun, her petite, emotive limbs moving swiftly through the library where she conducts interviews, responds to email and sometimes giving her sweet dog, Rosita an affectionate kiss on the nose.
Wearing a blue Oscar de la Renta dress with a pair of black Christian Louboutin pumps she shares, “thank you again for attending the St. Patrick’s Day party, it’s always fun to mix it up sometimes with the guests.” It was also the night that it was announced that Shafiroff will be joining the board of the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, a place that is very important to her. “I and so many others on the East End have been extremely fortunate to receive phenomenal care and for a hospital that doesn’t turn anyone away, I am proud to serve on their board,” says Jean. If that wasn’t exciting enough, Jean and her doting husband, Martin will be honored at the upcoming gala in the Hamptons this summer for their continued support of the hospital.
But that is just one of the many honors Jean is sure to collect this year, she will also be honored at the 23rd Annual Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton for her philanthropic efforts especially for her work in the black community. She has previously received a slew of honors from the American Heart Association, NYC Mission Society, The Jewish Board of Family, Children’s Services, The Surgeons of Hope, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, the Pet Philanthropy Circle and Animal Zone International, just to name a few.
Last summer in the Hamptons, Jean co-chaired the 7th annual UNCF “A Mind Is…” Hamptons Summer benefit and raised over $200,000 at the auspicious event. “My father was a music teacher on Long Island and I went to Catholic school, I was taught the importance of education at an early age and it’s so important that everyone has a fair chance and opportunity to receive a decent education.”
In addition to her support for UNCF, she is a long-time board member of the New York Mission Society located in Harlem, NY. “It is so important the work that Mission does, not only does is supplement the learning of so many young children, it provides a safe environment for them to explore, learn new skills and challenge themselves,” says Shafiroff.
This year the annual Champions for Children Gala will be taking place downtown at event space, Capitale as opposed to the beloved Mandarin Oriental. “Change is good and switching things up is a good way to get some fresh faces involved in this incredible charity,” explains Jean. Tickets for the upcoming gala start at $1,000 and can be purchased here.
With a new gala season upon us and warmer weather on the horizon, one has to wonder…what will Jean Shafiroff be wearing on the red carpet this season. She was recently awarded the Daily Fashion Report’s Best Dressed in Ball Gowns. “I am like any other woman, I like to have fun and express myself through fashion. It’s a hobby of mine as spring comes along, I enjoy matching high-end pieces with affordable pieces from Zara or even H&M. I am not afraid to repeat a look and just like anyone else, I have a budget,” she says with a convincing tone.
She wants to make it clear that while she loves to have fun with fashion, her priority is to help bring attention to the charities and organizations that she is affiliated with. She works tirelessly to achieve her fundraising goals, attending board meetings, and responding to emails and telephone calls.
With a busy schedule such as Jean’s, we often how does she do it all? But one of the most important things that she always finds time to do…exercise. “Even if it’s just for ten minutes, I believe that everyone should do something active. I enjoy pilates and even when I’m on vacation or in the Hamptons I find time to fit it in. Your body will thank you later for it,” exclaims Jean.
Jean is viewed by many as a professional philanthropist, and she has definitely earned the title. She offers her time, resources and reputation to the several boards that she sits on. These include the boards of the New York City Mission Society, Couture Council (Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology), French Heritage Society, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (20+ years), Southampton Animal Shelter Honorary Board, and Southampton Bath & Tennis Club’s Charitable Foundation. In addition, she is an Ambassador for the American Humane Society.
Jean shared her tips for navigating the world of philanthropy in her first book, Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give. The book is an inspirational and comprehensive guide to giving. Jean aimed to inspire the future generation while redefining what philanthropy means.
As an established and notable philanthropist, Jean is hopeful for the new generation and is eager to see us find our voice and serve our communities. “ I find it incredibly inspiring to see young people find their philanthropic interests. I would like to see them participate in global as well as local efforts. Whatever they decide to do, they have to do their research, figure out what their passion is and what they can realistically commit to,” shares Jean.
As we welcome the start of a new season, one thing that is consistent is the generosity, compassion and warmth from the effervescent rose, that is Jean Shafiroff. “I’m a woman from Hicksville, Long Island and I’ll never forget that and I love New York and I remain most thankful for my blessings, friends and family.”