Margo Catsimatidis helped her husband, John Catsimatidis, turn Gristedes into a supermarket empire before starting her own businesses in print advertising and publishing. But the philanthropist said what drives her is knowing what it is like to have less.
“My philosophy is never forget where you came from. I grew up in a poor family, but even though we were poor, I knew there were people with less than we had,” said Mrs. Catsimatidis, 59 years old, who first came to New York as a teenager to dance with the Bolshoi Ballet. “And I always told myself if I got into the position where I could help, I would.”
At the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s annual gala Tuesday night, Margo and John Catsimatidis, 64, will be honored with the nonprofit organization’s Strength of Our Society award.
The couple have committed a donation of $50,000 for the evening.
The Strength of Our Society award “honors those who are helping us make a better New York,” said the president of the organization, David R. Stack. The award is customarily given to individuals new to NYSPCC.
“We knew of their generosity and their involvement in a number of charities, which is just the kind of thing we’re looking to recognize and honor,” Mr. Stack said. The hope is that honorees then continue a relationship with the organization. “It’s been pleasing to us, that those we’ve honored who hadn’t had connections to the society before have stayed involved.”
Mrs. Catsimatidis said she actually wasn’t aware of the organization before she and her husband were asked to get involved. “I said to them, ‘I’m involved in so many things and I haven’t heard of you,’” said Mrs. Catsimatidis. “My husband and I said yes immediately. We try to do everything to help kids in every way that we can.”
That the society, though it’s been around since 1875, remains under the radar is “one of our great anomalies,” said Mr. Stack.
“Though we’re not a huge organization, we are the first and oldest [of this kind] and certainly within the universe of child protective services, I think we’re well-known nationally,” he said. “In the City of New York, when you’re competing with museums and artistic organizations and high-profile charities, it’s not a name that comes to mind right off the bat. But we’ve always been pleased people like the honorees that have come along have stayed committed.”
Now that she has this connection to the society, Mrs. Catsimatidis said, she’s “certainly trying” to bring attention to it.
“I’m going to bring a lot of people [to the organization] that are in the position to help,” she said. “I did go down and see their operation and I met everyone on the board. My heart is very happy to be able to at least help a little bit, bringing it to the front.”
Giving Back to Help Protect Children in N.Y. – WSJ.com.
credit: Kimberly Chou