How Notable East Enders Give Back for the Holiday Season

By Emily Weitz | December 24, 2018 | Lifestyle

For many bold names in our community, giving back is the ultimate sign of living successfully.

gabby-karan.jpgGabby Karan De Felice and husband Gianpaolo connect with guests over dinner in Sag Harbor.

From the soft white walls to the driftwood fireplace, from the ethically sourced baskets to the delicate candlelight, ambiance has always been Gabby Karan De Felice’s forte. But her desire to take a beautiful space and infuse it with people who do beautiful work is what lit up the family-style dinner at Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor on a crisp autumn night. As the first chill of the season descended on the village, Karan De Felice started to think about the holiday season to come. Instead of consumerism and jam-packed schedules, she wanted to connect the holidays to what really counts: giving back.

“Especially during the holidays, I want to inspire our children and loved ones to give back,” said De Felice as founders and employees of some of the most hardworking organizations in the business trickled into the bustling restaurant. The conversations around the dinner table were indeed inspired. As people passed plates of burrata and tuna tartare from one person to the next, they talked about why they were passionate about what they do.

For Max Bonbrest, who started the company AYR (All Year Round) with her two partners in 2014, creating sustainability in the fashion industry was a driving force. “Denim is one of the biggest producers in the fashion industry,” she explained as a waiter placed a grilled branzino between us. “And it is a huge waster of water. We make our jeans with hydrogen and oxygen, but no water. We focus on reducing waste in fashion.”

samantha-angelo.jpgSamantha Angelo is illuminated by the warm glow around the table at Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor.

Ayr is also interested in working with women-led organizations. This resonated with Leilani Bishop across the table, whose organization, Women for Women International, has helped provide microfinancing for women in war-torn countries.

“Women are the nurturers,” she said. “When you educate a woman, she will look out for her whole community.”

The conversation flowed freely. Lincoln Pilcher, co-owner of Moby’s Restaurant, talked about his love of horses and how his not-for-profit, White Shire, will be doing good work on horses’ behalf from Saratoga to California. Sarah Halweil, a nurse and yoga teacher who works with Urban Zen Integrative Therapy, pointed out that doctors at Southampton Hospital have come to depend on the work of UZIT therapists to make patients’ healing process more holistic. Austin Chandler and Jennifer Mabley, local interior designers, gushed about the hard work of volunteers at RSVP in Riverhead and Flanders to help reduce animal cruelty. Lilly Hartley, a documentary filmmaker and actor, talked about film as a catalyst for change.

For Samantha Angelo, the creative force behind, the evening inspired her to think about what she can do to give back as her circle of influence grows.

“That might be the ultimate success of life,” she said. “Getting to a point where you are able to give back.”

nicole-delma.jpgCandlelight creates the perfect ambiance for Nicole Delma and friends to discuss what they are passionate about.

Nicole Delma, who has worked with many nonprofits and helped to develop the environmental films category at the Hamptons International Film Festival, the overall vibe of the evening was a testament to that idea.

“This seems like a happy group of people,” she said. “When you’re doing something you care about, it changes your whole disposition. It’s so much more rewarding.”

By the time the tiramisu was cleared away and the last hugs were going around, De Felice was beaming, if not slightly exhausted.

“This is what it’s all about,” she said. “If I can create a platform to raise awareness for all these wonderful organizations, maybe we can all inspire each other to do good in the world.”

Photography by: Photography by Eric Striffler