Got Tennis
  | By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

Town & Country magazine and Longines, the Swiss watch company, have partnered for the second time in as many years to celebrate extraordinary women who have made an impact on children’s lives. The second annual “Women Who Make a Difference” Awards will be bestowed upon three individuals, nominated either by their peers or themselves, who have changed the lives of children. They will be recognized at an awards dinner at Hearst Tower in New York City on Friday, Sept. 1, hosted by tennis legend, philanthropist and Longines ambassador Stefanie Graf and Town & Country Editor-at-Large Pamela Fiori. As part of the honor, the organizations of the three honorees will be featured in the magazine’s February 2011 issue.

“Last year’s event was an incredibly inspirational and moving one, and we’re thrilled to once again recognize women who are making such a difference,” said Fiori. “Philanthropy takes many forms, and Town & Country is pleased to celebrate those who are changing the lives of others.”

“Longines, much like brand ambassador and tennis legend Stefanie Graf, has made a commitment to aid in the development of our nation’s youth, and we are delighted to be part of the ‘Women Who Make a Difference’ Awards,” said Jennifer Judkins, U.S. brand president of Longines. “It is a perfect opportunity to recognize women who are making positive contributions to society and affecting the lives of young Americans in a positive way. We commend their efforts and encourage others to follow their lead.”

The 2010 “Women Who Make a Difference” honorees were chosen from more than 100 entrants, each of whom is making an extraordinary impact in children’s lives within her community. This year’s three award recipients are:

►Dr. Margaret Martin, founder of The Harmony Project: The Harmony Project is an award-winning research-based program for at-risk youth in Los Angeles. It promotes positive youth development through ongoing year-round music lessons and youth orchestra participation, and provides students with instruments and after-school music classes. A skilled Parent Programs Coordinator provides orientation and ongoing educational programs for parents (at monthly “potluck dinners”) to help parents learn how to better support their kids’ progress, and to improve fundamental family dynamics. Further, a scholarship program supports the students’ transition to higher education – and requires them to give back by mentoring younger students, assisting teachers, or by helping out in the administrative offices.

►Kristen Malfara, founder and director of The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project: The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project, which stands for “Making Opportunities Reality Granting Assistance Nationwide,” is a non-profit organization established by Robert & Kristen Malfara in Melbourne Beach, Fla., in honor of their son Morgan, who has a very rare form of Leukodystrophy. The volunteers of The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project provide support to parents/caregivers and act as a reference source for information, financial resources, used equipment exchanges, research and clinical studies, and support groups. The organization tries to consolidate, and then disseminate, all the tools available to caregivers, from sources such as the internet, newsletters, parenting organizations, support groups, etc. Most caregivers just don’t have the time to look for needed assistance on their own. The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project also makes small individual grants (products & services only) to parents/caregivers of special children for travel expenses to attend medical conferences they would not otherwise be able to afford. In addition, they give small individual grants (products & services only) to parents/caregivers of special children for things like positional seating, adaptive car seats, durable medical equipment not covered by Medicaid or Insurance, and other non-covered items that make caring for these children easier and help to improve their quality of life.

►Valerie Sobel, founder and president of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation: Valerie Sobel’s inspiration for the Los Angeles-based Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation stems from her own staggering loss – that of her teenage son Andre, who died of a malignant brain tumor. Within that same year, her husband took his own life. Ms. Sobel realized that through her ordeal, she had never needed to worry about finances or the lack of any other resource. Then the question hit her: What is the plight of mothers without her resources? How do they possibly cope? When no other resources are available, social workers at affiliated children’s hospitals send the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation urgent requests on behalf of single-parent families in financial crisis. The team responds immediately and without additional paperwork because the social workers have already verified the need. The variety of requests range from essentials, such as food, transportation, utilities and medications not covered by insurance, to funds to protect a family from eviction or foreclosure. The Foundation responds to each request within 24 hours because “compassion can’t wait.”

To be considered for “Women Who Make a Difference” honor, participants were asked to submit either a 200-word essay or a five-minute video detailing why their nominee is “a Woman Who Makes a Difference.” The nominees were collected by Town & Country, and the three honorees were chosen by a panel of judges from the magazine and Longines. The nomination period began on May 12, when the June issue hit newsstands, and ended on July 26. Promotional advertisements for the “Women Who Make a Difference” awards ran in the June, July and August issues.

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