The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation presents the 19th Annual Oceans of Hope Gala on Friday, May 31, from 7 to 10 PM at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.
This year’s gala honoree will be Anthony Esernio of TD Bank, who is the market president for suburban New York.
“Mr. Esernio did not hesitate when he was asked to serve as this year’s nominee,” Ellen Bissett DeRiggi, vice president of Riverhead Foundation, said. “He has expressed genuine appreciation for the important role our organization plays in the community by responding to such a high volume of calls from the public about seals and sea turtles that have become stranded on our shores, and our efforts to rehabilitate many of these injured animals. He has given tremendously of his time and resources to make this year’s gala our most successful one yet, and for that we are extremely grateful.”
The 501(c)3 non-profit, founded in 1996, protects the marine environment throughout the area through rescue, rehabilitation, education, and research efforts. It is currently the primary organization in New York State that is authorized to work with seals, sea turtles, small-toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
This year, the foundation launches its Sea Steward Award “to honor people, companies and/or organizations who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to environmental stewardship and support of marine conservation, education and research” with the award going to Canon USA.
“Canon has been a consistent supporter of environmental and sustainability initiatives and has supported the Riverhead Foundation for a number of years and we are excited for the opportunity to acknowledge their initiatives,” a representative from the foundation commented.
The Oceans of Hope gala theme this year is White Nights in Monte Carlo, a white party casino night. It will include food, drinks, live music, casino games, a silent auction, and raffles. The money will go to supporting animal response, rescue, and rehabilitation initiatives. As a donation-based organization, the foundation relies heavily on fundraising events, like the annual gala. Gala co-chairs are Brendan DeRiggi and Ellen Bissett-DeRiggi.
From January through April, the team of four full-timer staffers and three part-time staffers responded to 1459 calls from the public regarding seals, sea turtles and cetaceans, 42 field animals, and admitted 30 patients. Thanks to their efforts, animals of both land and sea are receiving the care they need.