A Conversation With Jean Shafiroff

Jean Shafiroff. Photo by Michael Paniccia.

The part-time Southampton resident, philanthropist and humanitarian, and her husband, Martin, will be this year’s honorees at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s 61st Annual Summer Party on August 3. Shafiroff, a longtime supporter of the hospital and author of “Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give,” talks about the importance of charitable giving and the vital role the hospital plays on the East End.

What first made you interested in pursuing philanthropy as a mission?

I am sure it was the way I was raised that first got me involved in philanthropy. My teachers and parents were the first to encourage me to get involved in the giving back process.

As I became more and more involved in charities and saw the incredible need in the world, I increased my involvement. Today, I serve on eight charity boards and chair and/or co-chair about eight to 10 different galas each year.

What do you think holds people back from being more philanthropic?

People often follow what their role models do and then what they were taught to do. In my book, I discuss how parents and teachers bear the duty of serving as good role models to teach future generations the importance of giving back. I also emphasize that philanthropy should be taught both in the schools and at home. A philanthropy course in school should be a required course starting at a young age.

Once an individual sees how rewarding it is to give, that individual often starts to give.

A lot of people believe philanthropy is about one’s ability to give financial support. But are there other ways that people can get involved?

Absolutely, individuals can give time and knowledge and then when financial resources are available they can give them as well. Both time and knowledge are resources that are very valuable! But those who have financial resources have an obligation to make donations and give generously.

I believe we can all be philanthropists and that those who have resources have an obligation to help the underserved. To do nothing is to waste a lifetime.

How do you think the world of philanthropy has changed in recent years?

More people are involved in philanthropy than ever before … Conventional media and social media are both playing a bigger and bigger role in spreading information about underserved populations and causes. Media plays a major role in covering the good work of many charities and those involved in supporting them.

How did you first get involved with Stony Brook Southampton Hospital? Why has the hospital become such an important cause for you?

Many years ago, I had read about the Southampton Hospital and its Summer Party. I also realized that a community absolutely needs to have a good hospital. When I was asked to first get involved with the Summer Party as an auction chair, I was excited to do so. I served as the head of the auction committee for two years. The following year I served as a vice chair. Then in 2009, Jean Remmel asked me to serve as the sole chair of the 2010 Summer Party. I accepted and then went on to chair the Summer Party again in 2011 and 2013. These were big and successful parties. We raised a total of $5.4 million from the Summer Party in those three years.

What would you like people to know about Stony Brook Southampton Hospital that they perhaps aren’t often aware of?

As a member of the Stony Brook Medicine family, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is able to provide the best of academic and community hospital care for our year round and seasonal populations. Over the next several years we will be reimaging the healthcare landscape of the East End by building a new community hospital on the campus of Stony Brook Southampton and a new Satellite Emergency Department in East Hampton.

Another thing people do not know about is that the hospital never turns anyone away. We serve 25,000 people each year—and we happily do so.

You  made The Daily Fashion Report’s 2018 “New” Best Dressed List, part of Look Online (lookonline.com), for your ballgowns. What is the theme of this year’s hospital benefit and can you give us a little insight into what you’ll be wearing to the party?

This year’s Summer Party has as its theme “The Colors of Summer.” We have a beautiful invitation that reflects this theme. Our Summer Party will be a fabulous one for sure.

We encourage all people to purchase a ticket and attend and do not want anyone to feel pressured about what they wear.

I expect to wear a bright and colorful summer gown. But I have not decided exactly what I will be wearing yet.

I love ballgowns and own many of them. One day I plan to donate all of them to a museum as a collection. But right now, I am enjoying the experience of wearing them … Getting all dressed up in a ballgown is great fun. And so I will do my best to wear something exciting to the 61st Annual Stony Brook Southampton Summer Party!

The 61st Annual Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Summer Party will be held Saturday, August 3 in the fields at Wickapogue Road and Old Town Road, Southampton. This year’s event benefits the Jenny & John Paulson Emergency Department. Over the past 60 years, the party has raised more than $100 million for the hospital. To purchase tickets, visit to spot.fund/SHHSummerParty.