Tuesday, October 22, 2013 – Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion/ Ukrainian Institute of America – New York City

Liz Margulies Devorah Rose Mayas Hope

Liz Margulies Devorah Rose Mayas Hope

Maya Rowencak Elliott Sailors Mayas Hope

Maya Rowencak and Elliott Sailors, Getty Images

Elliott Sailors Mayas Hope

Elliott Sailors, Getty Images


This was the scene where New York’s young and hip converged to celebrate superstars at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion (Ukrainian Institute of America) on Fifth Avenue for the 2013 Hope gala to benefit Maya’s Hope.


This was the second gala for Maya’s Hope. Its theme: An Evening Celebrating Superstars. Maya Rowencak, the “Maya” of Maya’s Hope and founder, created an interactive evening that consisted of BidTec’s technologically advanced bidding systems with iPads, projected images of smiling and hopeful children above a Steinway grand piano, a classical pianist, and a DJ. Since last year’s gala, Maya and her volunteers have catapulted this humble charity from glitter cards to the Glitterati of New York City, bringing more awareness to the needs of orphaned children, children with special needs, and children who live in extreme poverty. Maya works tirelessly aiding orphans in Ukraine who have special needs and giving educational opportunities to malnourished and impoverished children in the Philippines.


She travels back and forth to hold these children and love them as if they were her own. It was the loss of her own mother that ignited in Maya the desire to make a difference in the lives of orphans. It is the love and appreciation that her “cutie pies” give to her that keep that flame glowing.


The efforts of Maya’s Hope go beyond the love and care that Maya shows these children. Through immense compassion for the children, the organization has raised funds from private sponsors that provide caregivers and fund surgeries and physical therapy for these kids. Despite the glamour and glittery sequins of her dress, Maya displayed her humility and down-to-earth personality by removing her heels and delivered her speech barefoot while standing on a chair and holding an iPad. Inspired by her favorite philosopher/writer, Alain de Botton, her moving speech about social anxiety made people raise their hands in agreement as people realized, “simply put, what if this could happen to you?”


The lights were shut off. With an eerie opening of Moonlight Sonata performed by Emi Nakajima, the guests were moved to tears as a video showed how a child, who doctors in Ukraine said simply “exists,” proved that she “exists” to change the world.   It indeed highlighted the simplicity of the cause – to show the value of this one child, despite the conditions to which she was born.  Massage therapists soothed six-year old Margarita who could barely move her own body. Though she spends most of her days confined to a crib and has a tube in her nose, her smile melted the hearts of the audience as she sweetly cooed when Maya pinched her cheeks. Every child in the images that flashed throughout the evening lit up when Maya was around. It’s not surprising that her contemporaries have the same reaction.


Co-chair Todd Harris Wolf introduced Maya. He related the story of a video he saw that Maya posted, which moved him to get involved. He saw Vlad playing ball with Maya in a room full of cribs.  “We all have so much, and here was this boy who was so happy just to get a ball.”


Tom Murro and Sonja Morgan Mayas Hope

Tom Murro and Sonja Morgan

Sponsored by BidTec, BrandBandit, GrubHub Seamless, Sisley and a list of supporters, the evening was, as Maya described, “magical.” Those who came out in support included: Elliott Sailors, Sonja Morgan of The Real Housewives of New York City, celebrity matchmaker Amy Laurent, Amanda Bertoncini and Chanel Omari of Princesses of Long Island, Robin Kassner of Millionaire MatchmakerKaren Gravano and Love Majewski of VH1’s Mobwives, Liz Margulies, celebrity stylist Julius Michael, The Von Boozier Twins, Matthew Berritt and Devorah Rose of Social Life Magazine; Tom Murro of Celebrity Magnet, Katherine Creag from NBC4 News, and Consul Zaldy Patron of the Philippine Consulate General in New York. Getty Images, Patrick McMullan Company and Alex Potemkin Photography captured the event.


Maya Rowencak Sister Bernarda mayas hope

Maya Rowencak and Sr. Bernarda

The main superstar of the evening was 91-year-old nun, Sister Bernarda Arkatin, who has devoted the past twenty years to helping Ukrainian orphans.  She has been an inspiration to Maya.


But in the end, the true superstars of the evening were the “cutie pies”. We all came together for them, along with Todd Harris Wolf and Maya’s Hope’s Chairman of the Board, Michael Meltzer, and created magic. As one follower on Facebook wrote, “Those kids will have a good year because of you.” Maya Rowencak is an example that a woman inspired by the needs of others is an inspiration for us all.


Writers: Tara Cushing of TBB Reality and Maya Rowencak of Maya’s Hope

Original Source:, edited by Maya Rowencak.



For Press Inquiries:


Maya Rowencak


Twitter: @mayashope


Maya’s Hope

P.O. Box 7439

New York, NY 10116

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