Bloomberg News

Scene Last Night: Rosanne Cash Helps Keep Ex-Cons out of Jail

October 03, 2011

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Everett Schenk, chief executive of North American operations at BNP Paribas SA, spent Sunday afternoon at an estate in Greenwich.

The occasion was the nonprofit Family ReEntry’s luncheon and concert, which for 13 years has taken place in the garden of Bydale, the home of Joan Warburg.

Schenk and his wife, Sally, former board chairman of Family ReEntry, were co-chairmen of the event. BNP Paribas and Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, were sponsors.

The organization helps formerly incarcerated men and women in Connecticut build new lives.

“The main selling point is that reducing recidivism saves money,” Schenk said as 480 guests found their seats for a quinoa and turkey salad.

Moments later, Sally Schenk was on stage citing the exact figures: It costs $44,000 a year to keep someone in prison, she said. Family ReEntry spends about $2,300 a year helping former inmates stay out of prison.

“It’s the easiest economic argument I’ve seen in any charity,” said Gary Halloway, retired chairman of Five Mile Capital Partners and a Family ReEntry donor.

Individual donors account for $324,000, or 9.5 percent of the organization’s annual budget. The bulk, about 75 percent, comes from federal and state funding, but cuts in those areas are pressuring the group to find more individual contributors.

“We need one hedge-fund guy to make an anonymous gift,” said board chairman William Galvin.

Bringing in Rosanne Cash and her husband, John Leventhal, to perform boosted ticket sales, at least. The 480 guests were a record for the event.

Good Listeners

“John and I have played a lot of charity benefits, and no one has listened as well as you,” Cash said in the middle of her set, which included “Motherless Children” and “Sea of Heartbreak,” from her latest album, “The List.”

Leonard Tow, chief executive of New Century Holdings LLC, an outdoor advertising firm, and chairman of the Tow Foundation, listened to the concert from a table in the back with his grandson James and George Thompson, a Family ReEntry client who works for its Beacon Mentoring Program.

“What Family ReEntry is about is creating health, pride and a capacity to earn a living,” said Tow. “It’s about shedding the cloak of the ex-con, getting society to accept these people.”

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

--Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Laurie Muchnick.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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