Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory A. Booker & Doll League President Tijuana Johnson

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory A. Booker received The Metropolitan New York Chapter of The Doll League, Inc.’s “Living Doll Award” for his education initiatives from Doll League President Tijuana Johnson (Photo Credit: Edward Chase Images)

*During the Yuletide Season, one of the most spectacularly stunning places is New Jersey with lavish homes beautifully decked out in Christmas lights and festive holiday paraphernalia.  One of that city’s newest jewels is The Grove on 691 Pompton Avenue, Cedar Grove, NJ which is known for its mouth-watering catering and distinctive views.

Now, it has the added distinction of being known as the breathtakingly gorgeous place where The Metropolitan New York Chapter of The Doll League, Inc. held its fabulous biennial Winter Ball on Sunday evening, December 9, 2012.

Every two years the ladies dazzle their guests wearing the same color.  This year, the “Dolls” looked ethereally heavenly in “white” designer’s gowns as they greeted and invited the black tie guests to join them in an exquisite evening of dinner, dancing, silent auction for festive gift baskets, and lively dance music by Valerie Adams & The Dimensions.  The regal affair began with a convivial cocktail reception that is always all the rage because of its abundant and assorted selection of marvelous morsels of delight; impeccable service; and open bars serving premium libations.

Returning in her role as Mistress of Ceremonies was a doll in her own right donning a striking red gown, Cheryl Washington, who introduced the “Dolls” individually to booming applause.  Their presence lingered throughout the ballroom — an ethereal reminder of their presence.  At the sound of their name, one by one they floated through the crowd to deafening applause:  Dale Booker, Carole Brantley-Pines, Lesley Crosson, Ann Guillory, Tijuana Johnson, Irene Jones, Linda Gowie, Margaret Hunter, Barbara B. Marsan, Lorraine Matthews, Charlee Taylor-Hines, Jennifer Taylor Smith and Sheryl Hiliard Tucker.  Smith and Tucker served as gala co-chairs.

Washington then introduced Doll president Tijuana Johnson who presented the pristine organization’s coveted Living Doll Award to popular Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory A. Booker.  “Education is a major mission focus for The Doll League, and no one better personifies a commitment to providing educational options for young people, regardless of their family income, than Cory Booker,” stated Doll Johnson in presenting the award to Mayor Booker.

Mayor Booker has attracted national attention for his efforts to make educational reform a priority, not just in Newark, but for young people throughout the nation.  In the city he has gallantly governed for two terms Mayor Booker already is succeeding in significantly expanding high quality public education options for families and creating new educational and career development opportunities for Newark’s disaffected youth.

The Metropolitan New York Chapter of The Doll League, Inc. members

The Metropolitan New York Chapter of The Doll League, Inc. members (l – r) Charlee Taylor-Hines, Barbara Marsan, Ann Guillory, Carol Brantley-Pines, Margaret Hunter, Jennifer Taylor Smith, Tijuana Johnson, Sheryl Tucker, Dale Booker, Irene Jones, Lesley Crosson, Lorraine Matthews, and Linda Gowie (Photo Credit: Edward Chase Images)

The Living Doll Award, which has been presented just 12 times in the 54-year history of the women’s charitable organization, celebrates individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their fields of endeavor.

The very first Living Doll Award was presented to humorist, civil rights activist and social commentator Dick Gregory.  The most recent recipients — before Mayor Booker — were Alma Rangel, a Doll League founding member, and broadcast pioneer and WABC-TV talk show host, the late Gil Noble.

Founded in 1958 by Ethel Sissle, wife of renowned musician/lyricist Nobel Sissle, the name was inspired by the organization’s first and most enduring activity — collecting, repairing, and distributing dolls and other toys to children living in orphanages in and around New York City.

The Metropolitan New York Chapter of 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.  To date, these beautiful dolls have raised well over $10 million for the underserved.  Proceeds from the Winter Ball will benefit The Doll League scholarship funds and other needy organizations they have aided and abetted.

With a current membership of 13 women volunteers, these funds help fund college costs for outstanding high school students through its two scholarship funds, The Doll League/Barbara T. Jacquet Memorial Scholarship Fund and The Doll League/Mary Gardner Lopez Endowed Scholarship at Meharry Medical College.

The Doll League also provides financial grants to local non-profit organizations working to enrich the lives of youngsters.  Past recipients include the Center for Food Action in New Jersey, Gilda’s Fund of Northern New Jersey, Minisink Townhouse and Camp in New York, the Harlem Symphony Orchestra and Associated Black Charities of New York.

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

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Audrey J. Bernard