The Metropolitan New York Chapter of The Doll League, Inc. members (Standing/L-R) Jennifer Taylor Smith, Dale Booker (gala co-chair), Lorraine Matthews, Linda Gowie, Charlee Taylor-Hines (president), Irene Jones Cates, Barbara B. Marsan (journal chairperson), Carole Brantley-Pines, Ann Guillory (gala co-chair) (Seated/L-R) Tijuana Johnson, Margaret Hunter, Sheryl Hilliard Tucker

*The Metropolitan New York Chapter of The Doll League, Inc. attracted over 300 resplendent invitees to its 52nd annual benefit on Saturday, December 4, 2010 at The Palisadium located on the beautiful cliffs of New Jersey overlooking the tranquil waters of the Hudson River with a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline.

The tony venue provided the perfect setting for an enchanted evening of dinner, dancing and music to the old school, soulful sounds of The Brothers 2+2 Band.  Award winning TV personality Cheryl Washington returned as Mistress of Ceremonies.  Beautiful Dolls Dale Booker and Ann Guillory served as gala benefit co-chairs; and Doll Barbara B. Marsan did a superb job as journal chairperson.

The Dolls dazzled guests in their choice of stylish silvery dresses which set the tone for a sparkling evening.  Their radiance did not go unnoticed by guests who were amazed that they were able to find a place that matched their graceful beauty.  These ladies truly redefine beauty.

The party for a purpose honored The Harlem Symphony Orchestra (HSO), featuring African American graduates of the nation’s top conservatories, and The Barbara T. Jacquet Scholarship Fund, providing scholarships to academically outstanding high school graduates who demonstrate a need for financial assistance to pursue college degrees.

In her eloquent president’s message, Charlee Taylor-Hines welcomed guests to the festive yuletide gathering.  “Good evening and welcome to the Doll League, Inc.’s 52nd Annual Benefit Gala.  We wish to express our gratitude for your support, and sheer joy for your presence.  As with all of our efforts, tonight’s event takes its inspiration from two ideals – Promise and Potential.  Imagine a world where hopes and dreams are dulled before they even have a chance to blossom.”

In her salute to the evening’s honorees, Taylor-Hines expressed how her group drew inspiration.  “Where young people cannot conceive of what they can truly do or become.  Unfortunately, this world exists for many of our youth every day.  In or efforts to combat this reality, The Doll League can draw inspiration from the achievements of two organizations we honor tonight.”

Doll League President Charlee Taylor- Hines (3rd left) presents check for $10,000 to Amadi Azikiwe, music director, Harlem Symphony Orchestra as Doll members look on (From Left to Right): Tijuana Johnson, Barbara B. Marsan, Dale Booker, Linda Gowie, Carole Brantley-Pines

In making the presentation, Taylor-Hines heralded the impressive work of the orchestra and the scholarship fund and honored these community agents for their positive change.  Taylor-Hines presented a check for $10,000 to Amadi Hummings, conductor, artistic director and founder of HSO to further its important work on behalf of African and African American composers.

HSO was created in 2001 to call attention to the historic contributions of classical instrumentalists of African descent.  The orchestra features African American graduates of the nation’s top conservancies.

“The harmonious compositions and rare beauty of Classical music have sustained for centuries, stirring souls around the globe.  Yet many urban youth have never heard classical music, much less imagined that they could create it.  The Harlem Symphony Orchestra exposes diverse communities to symphonic music,” Taylor-Hines stated.

Taylor-Hines also applauded the orchestra’s exemplary outreach programs.  “It also encourages urban youth to pursue careers in the field of classical music.  Their community outreach includes many of the usual venues such as recreating centers, schools, and churches.  However, they go far beyond the usual reaching out to young lives in juvenile detention centers and homeless shelters, venues with little reason to hope, and few resources for artistic development and expression,” she concluded.

Taylor-Hines also presented a check for $10,000 to the scholarship fund.  Jacquet was a longtime member of this chapter.  “The Barbara T. Jacquet Scholarship Fund battles for our disadvantaged youth on a different front.  This organization recognized the power of education to open doors, to expand minds, and to change lives.  Established in 1998, it faithfully seeks our talented minority high school students and awards them scholarships for four years of college.”

Taylor-Hines also laid out the outstanding club’s agenda going forward.  “As we move forward, The Doll League, Inc. will remain steadfast in helping disadvantaged youth.  We will continue to champion Promise and Potential; we will always believe that it can be encouraged, extracted, and molded for powerful results; and we will help realize Promise and Potential in as many young lives as we can touch.”

In her inspiring closing remarks the pretty prexy thanked the dressed to the nines guests and their sponsors for their “generous and continued support in achieving our goals.”  She also thanked her fellow Metropolitan New York Chapter comprised of 13 hardworking women volunteers who also maintain professional careers, including Charlee Taylor-Hines, Dale Booker, Irene Jones Cates, Linda Gowie, Ann Guillory, Margaret Hunter, Tijuana Johnson, Barbara B. Marsan, Lorraine Matthews, Carole Brantley-Pines, Jennifer Taylor Smith, Sandy Tate, and Sheryl Hilliard Tucker.

The Doll League, Inc. is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York, with chapters in the New York metropolitan area and Detroit, Michigan.  The original members were installed by the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

This glorious group was founded in 1958 by Ethel Sissle, wife of renowned musician/lyricist Nobel Sissle.  The name was inspired by the group’s first and most enduring activity – collecting, repairing and distributing dolls and other toys to children living in orphanages.  The Dolls continue the tradition with its annual Children’s Holiday Party every December at a local hospital, church, or shelter complete with gifts, a holiday meal and entertainment.  (Photos by Charles Wilkinson)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.