The Spirit of Giving

For years, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has been at the pinnacle of style, class and design. What people may not be aware of is the company’s dedication and connection to art. The iconic luxury car company continued its expansion into the art world for a good cause in September, teaming up with famous British artist Marc Quinn.


The production line of Rolls-Royce in the founding location of Goodwood, West Sussex, England provided the stage for the company’s “Evelina Art for Allergy x Dine on the Line” philanthropy event where a generous £1.7 million was raised through an auction to support allergy research by Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

“Rolls-Royce was introduced to the charity Evelina London via connections in the art world,” says Jessica Persson Conway, manager of Art Programme & Philanthropy. As the largest allergy service of its kind in Europe, Evelina London provides specialized care to children across the country who suffer with an allergic condition.


De Pury led the successful night featuring Quinn’s mesmerizing work. ©2019 David M. Benett.

“Marc is a world-renowned contemporary artist,” Conway continues. “Rolls-Royce has great respect for his work and particularly admire his Iris paintings, which is the subject chosen for this collaboration.”

Everyone locked eyes on the big prize of the night, a Phantom designed with one of Quinn’s pieces from his collection entitled “We Share our Chemistry with the Stars.” The ongoing collection features large, colorful paintings of irises from eyes.

Art auctioneer Simon de Pury, who led the vivacious auction compared the artwork to that of the psychedelic Phantom V owned by John Lennon, calling it “the 21st century equivalent.”


Phantom is the apex model of Rolls-Royce and the company, encompassing the luxurious experience of driving and owning a Rolls-Royce.


“The car has been the canvas of some of the most extraordinary expressions of bespoke craftsmanship,” Conway says. “The Rolls-Royce Bespoke Collective work hand-in-hand with patrons around the world to bring unique and highly personalized creative visions to fruition.”

The prized Phantom featuring Quinn’s artwork. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. 

The winning bidder of Quinn’s creation won the opportunity for the artist himself to create his own bespoke artwork featuring the iris of the bidder’s daughter, using the Phantom as the canvas. The drivable work of art raised an outstanding £888,000.

Rolls-Royce’s affiliation with art stems from its beginnings as a company, with the different models of cars becoming an “expression of creative will.” Conway noted that for over 100 years the bonnet, or front-hood, of each car is “graced with the Spirit of Ecstasy, a figurine created by sculptor Charles Sykes.”

The “Spirit of Ecstacy” by sculptor Charles Sykes. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. 

In 2014, the company founded the Rolls-Royce Arte Programme, an initiative made up of commissions with leading artists and institutions. Recently, the company announced a new vision for the program called Muse.

“Muse will further Rolls-Royce’s relationship with art through two new biennial initiatives, the Dream Commission and the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge,” Conway says.

The company also prides itself with its devotion to philanthropy, emphasizing how events, such as “Dine on the Line,” bring important attention to charity organizations.


“Patrons of Rolls-Royce are often highly successful, noteworthy individuals, many of whom are major philanthropic donors,” Conway says. “It gives us great pleasure to introduce the Rolls-Royce network to such a worthy cause.”

Are you looking for a way to help out this new year? Rest easy with these new sheets. 

The Good Sheet, a luxury bedding brand based in Tasmania, Australia partnered with non-profit organization, One Tree Planted, is planting five trees in its home state of Tasmania with every bedding set sold.

The ability to allow customers to make a positive environmental impact with their purchase is in harmony with a recent change in business direction towards sustainably produced bedding, which draws inspiration from the beauty of Tasmania’s nature.

Founder of The Good Sheet, Kamila Scholz said, “We are absolutely thrilled to have found a partner in One Tree Planted who shares our values and helps make our business a force for good. We’re very happy that beyond creating beautiful bedding, we can also do something positive for our local environment, right here in Tasmania. We want our customers to sleep even better knowing they helped plant a forest while they sleep.”

Over 80-percent of native species in Australia are not found anywhere else, and Tasmania is where many of the country’s threatened species can find refuge. Some, like the Tasmanian Devil, Eastern Quoll, Eastern Bettong and Eastern Barred Bandicoot are virtually extinct on the mainland so protecting their last remaining habitat in Tasmania is critical. The Good Sheet will work together with One Tree Planted to help restore vital wildlife corridors in the midlands region of Tasmania which has experienced significant habitat depletion.

This project will not only help protect and restore Tasmania’s biodiversity and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but also revitalize local farming and create jobs. “When you think about tree restoration, it’s not only about fighting climate change it’s also about maintaining ecosystems,” says researcher Jean-Francois Bastin from the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zurich.

Trees planted through this project are chosen for their suitability and benefit to the local environment. They include several types of Eucalyptus and Acacia trees and sometimes others, depending on the specific needs of the local habitat.

Photos courtesy of The Good Sheet

Therapeutic horseback riding is changing the lives of physically and developmentally disabled children and veterans.

Appreciating the profound relationship between horse and rider, Sissy DeMaria-Koehne founded Give Back for Special Equestrians in 2013 along with Dr. Heather Kuhl and Isabel Ernst. The organization raises money to provide therapeutic horseback riding scholarships for children and veterans suffering from physical or developmental disabilities — whether it be autism, cerebral palsy or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — so they can enjoy the benefits of horsepower that heals.

“I was approaching a milestone birthday, and even though I raised three wonderful daughters, I was thinking about how else I might want to be remembered,” says DeMaria-Koehne, president of Kreps DeMaria Public Relations in New York and Miami. “I’m proud to be a good mother and grateful to have enjoyed success in business, but I believe we’re called upon to do more to pay forward our blessings.” When DeMaria-Koehne, whose love of horses began at an early age, saw how individuals with physical or developmental disabilities responded to therapeutic riding, she knew she wanted to play a role.

DeMaria-Koehne, who reports equestrian therapy dates back to the ancient Greeks, originally named the organization “Give a Buck for Special Equestrians,” because her initial fundraising effort encouraged equestrians to give as little as a dollar every time they paid their boarding fees.

Give Back for Special Equestrians currently provides funding for therapeutic facilities including Good Hope Equestrian Center, Stable Place and Special Equestrians of the Treasure Coast in Florida, and Gallop NYC in Queens. DeMaria-Koehne hopes to eventually expand her organization nationally.

These remarkable facilities offer extraordinary services for special needs equestrians, but often do not have the resources for effective fundraising. DeMaria-Koehne’s organization holds regular galas in the Hamptons, as well as at the Winter Equestrian Festival outside Palm Beach, Florida each year. With influential board members like Georgina Bloomberg (world-class equestrian and daughter of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg), the organization continues to grow and attract high profile sponsors like Rolls-Royce.

Last summer, prominent real estate developer Don Peebles hosted a fundraiser at his Bridgehampton, New York estate that raised $50,000 for Give Back for Special Equestrians. Inspired by his daughter Chloe’s love of horses, Peebles reports, “She helped us learn about the compassion, strength and courage of horses and how horses having these qualities can heal humans and bring joy to their lives.” He adds, “Hosting a fundraiser for an effort with such beneficial outcomes is very rewarding!” According to DeMaria-Koehne, everybody in the organization, from graphic artist to accountant, is a volunteer. “Nobody takes a salary, and, beyond minor operating costs, all funds raised go right back to serve these special needs riders,” she says.

Some riders are children who are totally non-verbal, explains DeMaria-Koehne, but recounts moments shared by Dr. Peggy Bass, executive director at Good Hope Equestrian Training Facility, who has seen the miracles of this therapy at work when young riders, previously non-verbal saying the words “giddy up” to their mounts. She further reports, “After spending their life in a wheelchair, when they get onto a horse they feel like they’re on top of the world. They’re literally walking and standing tall!” Horses selected for special needs riders are quiet, docile and patient, and tend to be older. “People with autism are often non-verbal, but so are animals, who communicate through their energy,” explains DeMaria-Koehne.

“I still get excited about helping our clients succeed,” states DeMaria-Koehne about her highly successful career as a public relations executive, but says of her nonprofit work, “This is different … this speaks to my soul.”

Photos courtesy of Give Back for Special Equestrians. 

This story was previously featured in the Winter 2019 edition of Unique Homes Magazine.

Olivela, a luxury merchandise platform, allows consumers to indulge their excesses while making the world a better place.

Typically, shopping at fancy designer boutiques and contributing to the welfare of the world’s most vulnerable or neglected people are at opposite ends of the spectrum of human behavior. But the website Olivela allows customers to shop for luxury fashion and beauty products, knowing that a portion of all proceeds goes to designated charities.


“Our reason for being is the good we’re able to do,” says founder and CEO Stacey Boyd, who previously founded Schoola, a second-hand clothing site that raises money for schools. “The way we were able to scale Schoola, from an initial five schools to more than 35,000 today,” was a model for Olivela, she reports. Her inspiration for the concept, however, was a visit to a refugee camp in Kenya where she met young Malala Yousafzai, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy of education for girls and young women in developing nations. “I reached into my handbag for my cellphone to take a photo and realized that the cost of that bag could send a girl to school,” recounts Boyd.


After launching last year with 12 brands, Olivela now offers more than 200 luxury brands — iconic labels like Givenchy, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Valentino, and Burberry — and a portion of every purchase goes to one of the company’s affiliated charities. Olivela’s giving is focused on the Malala Fund, CARE and Too Young to Wed, all committed to ensuring that girls at risk of child marriage stay in school.

Boyd is pleased to see more companies asking themselves how they can contribute to urgent social causes without compromising their commercial success, and cites the example of Toms shoes, which donates a portion of profits to improve lives around the globe. “There’s an opportunity through commerce to do an amazing amount of good in the world,” says the entrepreneur, who genuinely believes in the power of giving. Olivela may, in fact, prove to be a model for a diverse range of ventures, whether Internet-based or brick-and-mortar.

Every piece of merchandise on Olivela is listed with the actual impact its purchase can affect, such as the 28 days of school funded by a $995 Ferragamo wallet. The shopper can learn which organization each purchase is funding, the nation the donations will be sent to and even the specific girl being assisted. “You’ll know, for instance, that you’re helping a 15-year-old Syrian refugee named Joury and will receive notice of her first day of school and see her report card,” explains Boyd. By allowing customers to monitor the progress of the individuals whose lives are changed by their purchases, a culture of accountability and connectivity is created.


“Educating one girl can help transform an entire village,” suggests Boyd, who insists education not only keeps young girls out of unwanted wedlock but helps them and their families overcome poverty. “When a customer is wearing a beautiful necklace she purchased from Olivela, she’ll be reminded of the impact it’s having on the life of a young girl, her family and community,” says Boyd.

Photos courtesy of Matthew Alland – Schoola

This originally appeared in Unique Homes Ultimate Issue 2018

A percentage of revenue from The Chef’s Table at BLACKBARN restaurant will go toward the Heavenly Harvest Foundation, a charity that creates nutritious and quality meals for those in need.

The Chef’s Table, open to the general public on Saturday nights, provides the opportunity to watch the restaurant’s renowned chef-owner John Doherty and his team in action and taste five distinct courses made from the season’s freshest ingredients. With a specially crafted menu that changes monthly, the $150 meal includes a selection of five wine pairings to present an affordable journey into New York City’s dining scene.
“We are thrilled to turn an evening out into an opportunity to give back for our guests, as proceeds from each dinner can provide a child in need with nutritious meals for an entire week,” says Chef John Doherty. “Like every detail of the BLACKBARN experience, from the decor to the tableware, the fully curated dinner leaves an impression of comfort and luxury while now sharing our passion for philanthropy.”
A personal dining experience that invites guests to have a front-row view of the action at long tables overseeing the exposed kitchen, The Chef’s Table offers a performance that is as elegantly simple as the dishes Chef Doherty creates. The April menu featured flavorful and unique combinations like a rich and round foie gras terrine cut with a tangy rhubarb and ginger conserve, and seasonal stars like ramps, white asparagus, fennel, and figs.

A local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fights cancer by setting sail on San Francisco Bay.

By Roger Grody

The Greater Bay Area chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recently hosted the Pacific Union Leukemia Cup Regatta on San Francisco Bay, the centerpiece of a fundraising weekend that has raised more than $7 million for cancer research over its 12-year history.

In addition to the Regatta, the weekend of October 21-22, 2017 featured the third annual Perkins Challenge sailing competition launched from San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club, a Poker Run for non-racing powerboats and a $1,000 per ticket VIP gala. Yachting has become a major theme for LLS nationally, with more than 45 Leukemia Cup Regattas now held across the country, from St. Petersburg to Seattle. In the Bay Area, the prominent San Francisco-based luxury real estate firm Pacific Union International is the Regatta’s title sponsor.

Jennifer Daly, campaign director for the Greater Bay Area Leukemia Cup Regatta, reports, “Since Pacific Union plays such a large role in the Marin County community, they’re a natural fit to be the title sponsor.” Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin reinforces the natural attraction of supporting an organization close to home. “This is a community event, and we’re part of the community,” says the chief executive, whose own sailing background makes this corporate sponsorship all the more rewarding.

McLaughlin was initially drawn to the LLS Regatta by a friend who was personally committed to the cause, which Daly suggests is representative of many volunteers and sponsors. “Our committee and all our volunteers feel a special connection to the LLS mission and sailing,” she says, explaining that organizing the Regatta weekend is a year-round effort. “It takes a small army of folks to make sure everyone has a great time and comes back year after year,” she says.

Approximately 100 yachts participated in the recent event, and the weekend’s activities were expected to generate about $700,000 in proceeds. After a decade of sponsoring the event at various levels, this was the second year that Pacific Union International was the title sponsor of the Regatta, and several executives from the company participated as skippers. Cancer survivors were named honorary skippers, including actress Brittany Daniel, a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor who was joined by her husband Adam Touni, a Pacific Union real estate professional.

McLaughlin reports this collaboration with LLS is part of Pacific Union’s corporate culture of giving, represented by the company’s active Community Fund. “Each real estate professional donates to the fund from commission proceeds and each region has a team of real estate professionals that direct the fund’s donations,” he explains. Indicating a major milestone was reached this year, McLaughlin reports, “We celebrated $l million in total giving to local nonprofits since launching the Community Fund 25 years ago.”

Pacific Union and other contributors, large and small, are making a significant difference in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s pursuit of medical advancements, and the Bay Area chapter is a national leader. “We’re proud of the fact we’ve been the top fundraising regatta in the country for 10 years now,” says Daly.

Actress Brittany Daniel with husband Adam Touni

Pacific Union CEO Mark McLaughlin

Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey

Legrand, a company that brings power, light, and data to millions of spaces worldwide, aims to help wounded veterans with its charitable efforts.

By Sarah Binder

For the second year, Legrand, North America, a firm that specializes in electrical and digital building infrastructures, donated the proceeds from its national sales meeting fundraiser to Building Homes for Heroes, an organization that helps wounded veterans.

The funds — totaling $161,000 — stem from money raised by Legrand sales teams, executive leaders and partners, and matched by Legrand. They will be used to build new homes for veterans, and to install appropriate home automation technologies.

“Building Homes for Heroes is one of the national charitable organizations that Legrand supports as part of its Better Communities initiative,” says Brian DiBella, president of the company’s EWS division. “Our purpose in this initiative is to enhance community and employee welfare through programs that help people enjoy healthier, more productive and more rewarding lives.”

A portion of this year’s donation will support United States Air Force Captain Nathan Nelson, who was injured during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. Nelson was part of a special operations team that came under heavy fire in September 2013. He sustained a spinal cord injury in addition to multiple other traumas. As a result, Nelson has no movement below his chest and limited use of his hands. He was awarded a Purple Heart and other commendations recognizing his bravery and sacrifice.

In addition to the monetary contribution, Legrand will also donate home automation and electrical solutions to Nelson and other wounded veterans. The products include: Intuity home automation and radiant RF lighting controls, which allow residents to regulate the lights and electrical outlets in their home via smartphone apps, Wattstopper sensors that automatically turn lights on when an individual enters the room and turn off when the room is unoccupied, and Plugmold multi-outlet power strips for USB charging. Once construction on the new home in Florida is complete, Nelson will reside there with his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Eva.

“We’re really proud of the way Legrand stepped up and showed their support for our veterans, and for the wonderful work Building Homes for Heroes is doing on behalf of those members of the U.S. Armed Forces who return home with serious injuries,” says Paul Finnegan, executive vice president of sales at the Data Communications Division of Legrand.

Building Homes for Heroes is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that was founded in 2006. It builds or modifies homes to suit a veteran’s specific needs and gifts the home — mortgage-free — to them and their families.

“We are extremely grateful for Legrand’s support for our nation’s injured veterans,” says Andy Pujol, founder and president of Building Homes for Heroes. “Their generous contributions are critical in allowing us to advance our mission of giving back to those who have sacrificed the most to keep our country safe. Together, we are building homes and rebuilding lives.”

John Hoffman of Legrand, with Gonzalez and his family, Andy Pujol of Building Homes for Heroes, and Bob Bonacc of Legrand.

This story originally appeared in Unique Homes Ultimate ’17. Click here to see the digital version.

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