I decided to write this post today and at this hour because I know that there is a gathering to support New Zealand in Central Park this afternoon. I received these details from a very trustworthy font.
In summary, Kiwi filmmakers Sally Williams and Katie Hinsen, along with NYC filmmaker Dave Shaerf, will be making a short film in NYC this Saturday, 2/26, to raise funds and awareness for their fellow countrymen struggling in the wake of the New Zealand earthquake. They will be canvassing NYC on Saturday with a video camera in tow, to record your messages of hope, faith, and strength to all New Zealanders – from one city of survivors to another. The day will culminate in a large gathering at the Central Park Ampitheater (The Bandshell) at 1:30pm to record a group message of “Kia Kaha Christchurch!” – or Stay Strong Christchurch!
The immediate goal will be to post the final video on YouTube on Sunday. The larger goal is to raise funds and awareness in a far-reaching message that will inspire others across the globe to do the same. The video will include links to aid organizations, and they are collecting donations for a Stay Strong fund that will go directly to the people of Christchurch. Show your support by recording a video message to Kia Kaha in Central Park!
How does this relate to Vee one might ask. Well, Vee Fitzgerald, who also happens to be the President of the New York Chapter of Women for WineSense and her husband Chef Shehu Fitzgerald lived in New Zealand for 1.5 years. The pair spent about 4 years traveling, working and living in different places before coming back to New York to marry. New Zealand however has left its’ greatest mark on them and their careers. Vee and I sipped a great Sauvignon Blanc from Whitehaven at the Ritz Carlton in lower Manhattan as we chatted about their lives in that country. They both told me enthusiastically that their dream is to own a farm in New Zealand some day.
It was fascinating to me to see how interested they both were in New Zealand, much the way Italy captivates me. While owning that farm may be a longer term goal, Vee and her husband have realized one of their shorter term goals, owning a wine shop in Staten Island. Chef Fitzgerald was raised on Staten Island and the couple wanted to open a different sort of wine shop there, with personal service, their Chef on duty program where a Chef answers customer questions about pairing, hand selected wines, education and free delivery all over the island.
The shop has been open for less than a year so Vee is cautiously optimistic, as any smart business woman should be. Her passion for retail started years ago when she worked for Vintage wine, the shop that sold only New York wines. Vee also worked in sales for two small New Zealand importers working off and on premise. Her strength was off-premise, she said and thus led to her decision.
That was her first job after returning from New Zealand. “The New Zealanders were very nationalistic about their wines and I thought it would be fun to work in a store that promoted our area,” Vee said.
While working, Vee studied to get her Diploma from the Wines & Spirits Education Trust program at the International Wine Center. Vee started her wine career in restaurants where she met her Chef husband. She also told me that Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World book got her started. I feel a lot of kinship with Vee and her love of that book which I think is a must for all beginners and not just beginners in wine. I keep a copy on my desk at work in fact.
Vee is also helping me to become a better social media marketer. She is an avid fan of Twitter and Facebook. “Social media has been fundamental for my business,” she told me, and she reminds me constantly, “it’s a conversation.”
I truly enjoyed my conversation with Vee and the unbelievable scallops with a special spice blend that her husband, Chef Fitzgerald of the Ritz Carlton restaurant, 2 West prepared for us.
I can’t wait until they get that farm in New Zealand but in the meantime, we will continue our conversation on nearer shores, likely with a New Zealand or New York wine in hand.