Woodlawn Friends Help Raise $11,500 for Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

The Ivory Party organizers, Jazz Neary, Cassie Wilkins, Liz Prendergast and Anna McNeilis

May 28, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

A group of friends living in Woodlawn held a large fundraiser Saturday that generated a whopping $11,500 for a charity that helps bring the remains of loved ones home to Ireland.

The friends, who are all Irish immigrants, hosted the event called The Ivory Party on May 22 at Sherwoods Restaurant in Larchmont, New York, to raise money for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust.

Around 80 people attended the glitzy get-together and were all dressed in the color ivory – with some rather unconventional outfits adding to the fun and glamorous occasion.

Irish immigrants came from around the city – including a busload from Woodside in Queens which is another notable Irish enclave. The owners of The Wild Goose organized the bus ride.

The outdoor marquee area at the rear of Sherwoods was draped in ivory colors and balloons, string lights dazzled the ceiling and the champagne was in full flow – all for a worthy cause.

Organizers Cassie Wilkins, Liz Prendergast, Jazz Neary and Anna McNeilis said the amount of money raised surpassed even their wildest expectations. All four decorated the venue.

“We were just blown away with the response,” Wilkins said. “It was a magical night and we never thought that it would turn out the way it did.”

A contribution of $25 per ticket sold was going directly to the event kitty but many who couldn’t attend made donations to the fund anyway.

Businesses also chipped in. For example, construction companies J.T. Magen and Archstone donated $2,000 and $1,000 respectively while estate sales firm Attic to Basement also gave $1,000. Orla Quinn, who recently set up her own decorating company, provided the arch entrance frame free of cost.

Wilkins, who appeared on The Long Hall Podcast last week to preview the event, said that a number of attendees dug deep and made cash donations on the night.

“It’s been an eye-opening experience to learn about the Trust and learn about how the Irish community comes together and shows up for events. Thank you so much for everyone’s generosity.”


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A post shared by Cassie Wilkins (@cassie_wilkins_)

The four friends said they came up with the idea for the Ivory Party during lockdown. They were dreaming of a return to normalcy and wanted to mark the reopening of the city with an Irish gathering. The get-together was a twist on the famous Hamptons White Parties where everyone dresses in white.

As plans took hold they decided to turn the occasion into a fundraiser and chose the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust based on the compassionate work it has done and continues to do.

The Trust was set up nearly eight years ago by the family of Kevin Bell, a 26-year-old County Down man who was tragically killed in a hit and run accident in Woodlawn, the Bronx, in 2013.

Irish people at home and abroad have developed a deep affinity with the Trust which has repatriated nearly 1,100 remains to date. The outpouring of support toward the Ivory Party was a testament to its high regard.

Kevin Bell, who the Trust is named after

The Ivory Party has proven such a success that the four friends are already looking ahead to a repeat event next year, according to Prendergast.

“Hopefully this will be a yearly thing and we will see lots more people and even bigger donations next year,” said Prendergast, who also spoke eloquently to the crowd Saturday.

“The Trust is such an unbelievable charity and we can’t thank people enough. It was a gorgeous night and everyone looked brilliant.”

Donations to the Ivory Party are now closed but contributions to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Fund can be made via the charity’s website by clicking here or via its Facebook page.

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Watch or listen to Wilkins’s appearance on The Long Hall Podcast below. Shares are appreciated.

Attendees who travelled on a bus from Woodisde. The owners of The Wild Goose organized the trip.