On a chilly Wednesday evening in New York City, a group of advocates, researchers, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs gathered together at the historic Altman Building for WELL/BEINGS’ sixth annual full circle benefit. The charity was founded in 2018 by Amanda Hearst Rønning and Breanna Schultz with a mission to help the environment.
The evening (accompanied by a hearty plant-based dinner) was dedicated to those working to save the mangroves, one of WELL/BEINGS’ key initiatives. For those unfamiliar with the plant, the night’s emcee Nimesh Patel provided attendees with a brief explainer. “Mangroves are plants that grow in brackish water that absorb carbon and help stop global warming,” he said. “They also prevent the damage of climate change and coastal erosion.” In other words, conserving and restoring these precious trees is a life-saving endeavor.
Rønning and Schultz further echoed the aforementioned sentiments. “Every being deserves to belong and thrive in a safe environment,” Rønning said. “After years of working in animal welfare and conservation, we’re more convinced than ever that these two issues cannot be treated separately.”
Four individuals who are committed to the cause were honored a throughout the evening: Sylvie Chantecaille (a conservationist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist), Katie Sturino (an advocate and founder of MegaBabe), Nia Jeffers (a student and mangrove researcher), and Hatuey Connelly-Molina (a student and field researcher).
“It’s really easy to care about a dog or a cute little kitten,” Sturino said, following a glowing intro from her longtime friend Hunter McGrady. “But it’s really hard to get people to care about the mangroves. Once [I started learning] more, I couldn’t believe that we were just letting these plants and structures be ripped out of the ocean and along the coastline. I felt really passionate about getting involved and educating my followers.” She ended her speech with some kind words for WELL/BEINGS’ co-founders. “Thank you guys for making people care about plants.”
After a brief dinner break—guests were served a delicious root vegetable bordelaise—the night continued with a live auction, where $600,000 was raised for the nonprofit’s “Save the Mangroves, Save the Ocean” campaign. All of the proceeds will provide support to conserve the mangroves in Vieques, Puerto Rico, and the British Virgin Islands, as well as provide grants for student scholarship and education. And to end the night, the Grammy-winning artist Common stopped by to deliver a surprise performance.
For an inside look at the sixth annual full circle benefit, click through the gallery below.
Amanda Hearst Rønning, one of WELL/BEINGS’ co-founders.
Comedian Nimesh Patel gives opening remarks.
Sylvie Chantecaille receives her award from Breanna Schultz and Amanda Hearst Rønning.
Common ends the night with a performance.
The scene at the benefit party.
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