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People on the Move: Dorothee Volpini de Maestri-Gerberding
03/14/2008 - By Teja Anderson
Dorothee Volpini de Maestri-Gerberding
Dorothee Volpini de Maestri-Gerberding - Creating A Special Kind Of Magic
Growing up in the beautiful green hills outside of Vienna, Austria, did much to solidify Dorothee’s love of the outdoors. Open space is a passion she takes seriously while serving as a trustee for the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, but it is just one of the many causes for which she volunteers. Twenty-five years ago in Vienna, her older sister, Verena, volunteered at a children’s cancer clinic, leaving quite an impression on Dorothee, so when the Embrace Kids Foundation approached her to become a member, she jumped at the chance to do even more. As it turned out, she needed to create a fundraiser for a character-building education course she was taking with Landmark Education in South Plainfield, NJ. The Embrace Kids Foundation was founded in 1990 by families, friends, and medical professionals at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital to support the non-medical needs of children and their families with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other blood disorders. Of the money raised, 87% goes directly to the affected families providing them with social services, emergency financial assistance, tutors and supplies, and much more; most importantly, they provide families with the same caregivers they had during treatment who continue to treat the children through remission, cure, or even end of life. This particular charity spoke volumes to Dorothee – it was local, emotionally fueled, had immediate and direct impact. She also made sure her own children got involved, as well as those of some of her friends.
“I think it is so important for our children to realize that there are others…who are not so fortunate…that they can have an opportunity to make a difference in these children’s lives.” With the help of a dedicated group of volunteers and their children, Dorothee recently launched “Creating Magic – Children Helping Children,” an afternoon of fun, food, games, and crafts. Her inspiration was Cirque du Soleil, and she hired Doug Young from “Real Magic” to perform. She also enlisted the help of four student designers from Brookdale Community College to decorate the ballroom at Merri-Makers at the Water’s Edge (Sea Bright); they made the whole place feel like the inside of a fantastical circus tent. Best of all, 100% of the proceeds from the event went directly to the Embrace Kids Foundation!
If you think that Dorothee has a restful vacation planned after all this work, think again. This summer she‘ll travel to northern Italy to start training for her 2-week hike up Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2009! The small hiking group plans to attack the climb from Tanzania because of the political unrest in Kenya. To prepare, Dorothee does lots of walking and jogging in Bucks Mill Park, which adjoins her property. An avid skier, she remains hopeful for snow, at least enough for the family to get some sledding in this winter on one of the park’s small hills. It’s not the Alps of her homeland, but is something to look forward to with her husband, Christoph, son Max, 16, daughters Victoria, 15, and Carolina, 12, and Margaritte, their rather plump, but loveable black Lab.
A resident of Colts Neck for the past 18 years, Dorothee originally came to study gemology (her ancestors were jewelers to the Austrian Emperor in the 1800’s) at the Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica, CA, where she met her husband, who was studying at Pepperdine. They returned to Austria for their wedding, then moved to Colts Neck and started a family. In 1994, with several others, they founded Colts Neck Polo. Both her husband and son are skilled polo players, but Dorothee never rides any of the 10 horses and polo ponies they either own or board. “I am more of an off-the-field [polo] enthusiast,” she admits. Instead, she handles the public relations, setup, and breakdown of the matches. With more than half of their home matches benefiting various charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and 180, Turning Lives Around, Dorothee is kept quite busy.
Dorothee is truly giving back to the community and the country she now calls home, and it is with appreciation for all that she does have that makes this exceptional woman so incredibly generous.
*For more information about the Embrace Kids Foundation, visit www.embracekids.org
Favorite restaurant: I Cavallini Ristorante
Favorite music: Bach, Mozart, and American Country
Favorite movie: Brokeback Mountain
Pet peeve: people who don’t produce
Three people you would like to have dinner with: Mahatma Gandhi, Rachmaninoff, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg
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