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The Hamptons, with all of its elegance and lush green landscapes, was the perfect backdrop for the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) annual Summer Benefit.

On Saturday evening, the New York UNCF chapter hosted a gala under the stars and closed the weekend with a brunch on Sunday.

This year UNCF honored the work and accomplishments of two great Black innovators and leaders, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole and Edward Lewis. Cole is the former president of Spelman and Bennett College and was also the former director of the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Lewis is one of the co-founders of Essence Magazine. Funds raised for Saturday and Sunday’s events will go to support underserved teens from the east end of Long Island.

CNN anchor Don Lemon served as a MC for Saturday night’s gala and opened his speech with the importance of the evening’s efforts.

Several notable celebrities were in attendance including fashion designer and celebrity stylist Ty Hunter, Yandy Smith-Harris, a businesswoman and star on VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop, model and actor Broderick Hunter and Sarunas Jackson from HBO’s “Insecure.”

Cole and Lewis gave rousing speeches during the evening, thanking UNCF for the honor while also dropping serious gems on the power of education and Black women and their influence on the culture.

Saturday’s gala concluded with a speech by a med school student who received funding from the UNCF. Her presence was an immediate reminder of the UNCF’s famous slogan, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Several prominent hosts in the Hamptons community were instrumental in supporting the UNCF New York chapter in raising awareness and fundraising for the event. One of the weekend’s main benefactors, Jean Shafiroff and Gregory Lowe II, spoke to the importance of philanthropy and the necessity of giving back

On Sunday, over 100 guests gathered at the Bay Kitchen Bar to enjoy brunch overlooking the water. Shafiroff and Diego Aviles, Vice President of Fund Development for the northeast UNCF chapter thanked the guests for attending and shared the wonderful news that over $200,000 was raised as a result of fundraising efforts.

“If you want to go fast, go alone,” Cole said as the brunch closed. “But if you want to go further, go together.”

A great cap to a special weekend, invigorating and encouraging guests to band together in the name of philanthropy.

The UNCF’s Summer Benefit Was A Weekend To Remember  was originally published on