Luke Louchheim loves his ARF dogs. So much so, that he wanted to give back to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons for all the joy his bulldog, Buttercup, and pit bull-chihuahua mix, Sam, have brought him.
Last year, the 15-year-old Sagaponack resident came up with the idea to construct dog and cat houses and auction them off to raise funds for ARF. He presented Executive Director Scott Howe with a detailed plan of how to make it happen.
“When he approached me with this idea, he was so organized — he had a full proposal. It’s something you would expect from an adult in this business,” Howe said. “It was more than, ‘This is a good idea, you should do this.’ He said, ‘I’m going to do this.’ And he did.”
Now, Louchheim is on his second year of the project. Fashion icon Donna Karan and Gabby Karan de Felice’s K9 Zen x Tutto Pavilion, interior designer Steven “S.R.” Gambrel’s Consoling the Pup, and theater and visual artist Robert Wilson’s Doghouse will be available to bid on through Friday, August 16, via paddle8.com/auction/arf. The functional and durable shelters for indoor or outdoor use are available for public viewing at The Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack until then. The project coincides with the Saturday, August 17, Bow Wow Meow Ball, honoring fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi for his longstanding partnership with the non-profit.
Much like he did the first time around, Louchheim partnered creatives with builders, but this time, broadened his reach from architects to interior and fashion designers, saying he wanted to be more inclusive.
Some of last year’s participants included Fred Stelle, Blaze Makoid, Maziar Behrooz, and Robert Young. The structures were auctioned off at ARF’s annual fundraiser in August 2018, and raised more than $30,000. Howe said that money is equivalent to 15 rescue trips to South Carolina; vaccines, health exams, and spay and neuter surgeries for 120 animals; or a month’s worth of food and supplies for all the cats and dogs in the shelter. So, when Louchheim voiced his desire to do it all again, Howe said, “Being part of a nonprofit, how can I say no?”
“It’s incredible,” the executive director said of what Louchheim — whose mother, Summer, is on the ARF of the Hamptons board — has been able to do. “Luke’s idea was a creative way to give back in a way that for everyone is very natural. It lets them take their talents and use them for a good cause. Luke is an incredible young person, and I think this really speaks well for his generation. Obviously, his family should be very proud of him.”
He solicited designers and builders, got free supplies, followed up once he received plans, gave the go-ahead, ensured a production schedule was followed, and found photographer Tria Giovan to capture the works of art. But the Sagaponack resident, who was also a standout on the East Hampton High School varsity tennis team, said it was his awe for all ARF has achieved that motivated him.
“They are so organized, and they do so much,” Louchheim said. “They get the job done.”
He’d just started taking lessons in architecture, thinking of a project combination would be a win-win for all involved, but had no idea the support he’d receive.
“I was really surprised with how willing everyone was to help their community,” Louchheim said. “I didn’t get anybody that said ‘No’ to the project, and it’s been really nice to see it all come together. This took a lot of time, but it’s all worth it.”
Fashion icon and philanthropist Donna Karan believes through creativity, collaboration, connection, and community you can change the world, which led to her involvement. She worked with Wainscott’s Men at Work Construction and Bonetti/Kozerski Architecture DPC to bring her vision to life. Gambrel had the help of Calverton-based Lido Stone Works and New Day Woodwork, while Wilson was paired with Blaze Makoid Architecture in Bridgehampton and Artisan Construction Associates in Water Mill.
Patrick Droesch, vice president of Florence Building Materials, which has locations in Amagansett, East Quogue, Mattituck, Medford, and Huntington, provided the materials for all 10 of last year’s and each of this year’s structures.
“He’s done such an amazing job,” Louchheim said. “He’s been really generous.”
Droesch said he thought pairing local builders and architects to help rescue animals was a unique idea.
“I was very impressed with Luke taking the initiative to begin this ambitious project,” he said. “Seeing the creative designs they came up with, too, was amazing, and it was fun to see the cat and dog houses come to fruition. Working with Luke and ARF enabled our company to serve a segment of the local population and gave us a unique opportunity to give back to the community which we have been a part of for many years. Luke has given his time, talent, and skills to help ARF, and I love that he was determined to keep this amazing idea going,” said Droesch.
Howe said what he’s loved seeing is the shift from dogs running loose every summer after Labor Day to now not being able to walk the streets without seeing a dog with ARF roots and an owner attached to it.
“We are entangled in the local community,” Howe said. “This just brings more attention to ARF’s work and ARF’s mission. It shines a brighter light on what we do.”