From the Editor: The Reality of It All
At least once a year we here at the magazine get a call from a network producer type scouting Greenwich for reality show contestants—from bachelors to housewives to even pampered pooches. But as you can imagine, we don’t have a huge list of people who are interested in having their every move exploited on “reality” television (air quotes intended). When the spiritual director of Trinity Church, Ian Cron got a call from the producers of a new reality show called Oprah’s Big Give (yes, as in Winfrey), it was a completely different story. They were looking for philanthropic-minded contestants seeking to change the world. And when the venerable Ms. O calls, well, you call back. Ian had the perfect candidate, his longtime friend Stephen Paletta. Little did Stephen know that he was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime that would earn him $1 million to help him help others. Read his story, “The Ultimate Oprah Moment” (page 52).
Stephen is not the only person featured in this issue who has had a life shaped by a major influencer of our time. Jennifer Bresler’s passion for helping others came at a young age when she was living in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Jennifer’s parents, together with humanitarian pioneer Dr. Jane Goodall, saved a countless number of chimps from certain death. As a result, Dr. Goodall became a close family friend and Jennifer, developing a strong sense of social justice, would come to view the naturalist as a mentor of sorts. Today Jennifer has brought Dr. Goodall’s message to students in our town by founding a Greenwich division of Roots & Shoots, a network of clubs started by Dr. Goodall herself. The club has helped to build schools and wells in Africa, has raised significant funds for disaster relief and has brought the message of compassion to students in other parts of the country. These young people are the Jane Goodalls of tomorrow. Meet Jen and her band of inspiring kids in “Join the Club” (page 72).
I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Goodall last spring at a lunch hosted in her honor at a private home here in Greenwich. She had everyone captivated. This woman with such a slight frame and quiet demeanor has changed long-standing scientific beliefs and challenged governments around the world on topics ranging from deforestation to the inhumane treatment of animals and human beings. She is a true force.
Isn’t it funny how two very different stories can have such similar outcomes? Makes you realize that you really never know who or what will change your life.