It was anything but a staid and stuffy award dinner at New York’s Plaza Hotel on Monday, when a crowd of more than 300, were on their feet, twirling their napkins and singing along with Grammy Award winner Wyclef Jean in a tribute to Lisa Ellis, a towering figure in the music industry, now a partner of Fireman Capital Partners and Carnival House Recordings.
Ms. Ellis received this year’s Phoenix Rising Award from Phoenix House at the dinner. On hand, along with celebrated humanitarian Wyclef Jean, were Eli Manning and Shaun O’Hara of the New York Giants and a host of other well-known figures from the music and entertainment community. Chairing the event were Lisa’s colleagues at Fireman Capital Partners, Paul and Dan Fireman.
After a taped tribute from Shaquille O’Neal, Miri Ben-Ari, the Israeli-born, classically-trained “Hip-Hop Violinist” and Grammy Award-winning songwriter gave a stellar performance at the dinner, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
Proceeds from the event went to support the work of Phoenix House, and dinner guests heard from two young people who found and are finding their way to recovery at a Phoenix House treatment program.
Nancy Rosa was a good student before trying to fit in with the popular crowd. She was caught selling and using drugs and spent four months in jail. Arrested once again, she was given the choice of treatment at the Phoenix Academy residential high school instead of prison and opted for a new life, a ‘new Nancy’. “For me, the great lesson at Phoenix House was coming to know who I really wanted to be. I‘m not there yet, but I’m getting there, I finished up at the Academy last December. I’m making up the credits I need to get into college. I want to study Performing Arts. My dream is to become an actress.”
Nick Kapstatter took a different route to treatment. He was drinking heavily and came to Phoenix House after he blacked out at a subway token booth. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned at Phoenix House is patience. That was hard and still is. I learned the difference between what I wanted and what I needed and how to live life on its own terms. I came to understand that I was, deep down, a decent guy who had made a mistake, and could get past it.”
The evening ended with a very special performance by Wyclef Jean, who improvised a song dedicated to the life-changing work of Phoenix House that kept the napkin twirlers on their feet.
Stories of Recovery: Click here to read the remarks from the two Phoenix House speakers, Nick and Nancy.