The sun was scarce and rain clouds filled the air on Thursday morning, July 11, but that did not dampen the spirits of over 500 exuberant women who gathered at the palatial private estate of Morgan E. Cline in Red Bank, New Jersey to attend the 18th annual “Power of Pink” luncheon. Sponsored by the Women’s Council of the Leon Hess Cancer Center at Monmouth Medical Center, the proceeds of this year’s event benefit the much needed patient infusion center.
A palpable electricity filled the air as women from all over the Garden State filed into the elaborate tents that housed a panoply of high end merchandise from local women owned businesses. Truly a female fantasy come true, the ladies eyed a bevy of luxury pocket books, jewelry, clothing and unique craft items. From there, it was on their way to the main tent where the celebrity speaker of the day; none other than television, radio and stage sensation Wendy Williams chatted in an animated fashion with the guests in her own inimitable style while signing copies of her new book, “Ask Wendy: Straight Up Advice For All the Drama in Your Life.”
After partaking in some scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and drink, the guests entered the event area where they settled in for the gala luncheon and the proceedings. Welcoming the guests were Kellie Geary Enstrom and Valerie K. Zabaleta; the chairwomen of the “Power of Pink” luncheon. “Our event would not be possible without your significant generosity for this most worthwhile cause,” they said. “Through your support, we are working to complete our commitment to the patient infusion unit where patients at Monmouth Medical Center receive chemotherapy, blood transfusions, hydration treatments and other lifesaving services. Cancer has affected us all and we appreciate your contributions to The Leon Hess Cancer Center.”
Introducing the esteemed guest of honor, the chairwomen said, “Today we are delighted to honor Dr. Robert Graebe and his remarkable achievements in the field of reproductive endocrinology. We extend our congratulations to Dr. Graebe on this well-deserved honor and we are truly fortunate to have his amazing talents at Monmouth Medical Center, bringing cutting-edge technology to improve patient outcomes at the Leon Hess Cancer Center.”
As one of the first physicians to incorporate the use of robotic surgery, Dr. Graebe is the chairman and program director of obstetrics and gynecology at Monmouth Medical Center. He previously served as Section Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology at Monmouth since 1985. As a resident at Monmouth, Dr. Graebe received the Robert Mackenzie Award for most outstanding obstetrics and gynecology resident, as well as the Samuel Adler Award.
“I have always considered it not only a responsibility but also a privilege to be entrusted with the care of women at a very vulnerable time in their lives,” said Dr. Graebe. “I am deeply passionate about the quality of the medicine we provide for women and for me, dedicating my life to the care of women has been a labor of love on both a personal and professional level,” he added.
As a man who clearly loves his job and who so profoundly cares about his patients, Dr. Graebe makes some surprising revelations as he recalls that obstetrics and gynecology was not a speciality he had considered while in medical school. “As a high school and college football player, orthopedic surgery and sports medicine was the more likely choice, however after my first Ob-Gyn rotation I realized very quickly who the real athletes were and I fell hopelessly in love with obstetrics and gynecology. Now, 38 years later I can happily announce that the romance is still alive.”
Speaking of the stellar advancements that Monmouth Medical Center has made over the decades. Dr. Graebe said, “Today, I am proud to say that the Department of Ob-Gyn has grown from 40 to over 100 physicians and certified midwives, which include specialists in maternal fetal medicine, gynecological oncology, urogynecology and reproductive medicine.” He added that, “Our number of births has increased from 3,200 to approximately 5,000 by years end. This is more than half the births in Monmouth and Ocean counties combined, despite the fact that the birthrate in New Jersey has declined.”
Dr. Graebe’s philosophy on consistently striving to dramatically improve health options for women is predicated on his personal credo. “I believe the quality of a society can be measured by the health of is women and because we are dealing with young families where the women are the primary caregivers and a healthy mother means a healthy family,” he said.
In an interview with The Jewish Voice subsequent to his address, Dr. Graebe focused on efforts that Monmouth Medical Center has made towards reaching out to the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood. “We know that these women have large families and a great deal of responsibilities which make it difficult for them to come to our facility, so we have established satellite offices staffed by our physicians in their area, to make it more convenient for them to access out services,” he said. As birthrates go in various communities in New Jersey, Dr. Graebe said that, “40 percent of all births at Monmouth Medical Center are from the Lakewood area and we are happy to say that we are now providing care for women who are aging. We have orthopedists, cardiologists, neurologists, etc who specialize in the medical needs of the older woman.”
He added that, “Next to the Newark, New Jersey area, the birthrate in Lakewood is the highest and with the advancements we’ve made we hope to serve this community with the very best care and respect for many years to come.”
Displaying their appreciation to Dr. Graebe and his dedication to his patients, the conclusion of his address was met by thunderous applause and a standing ovation by the audience as he was presented with an award marking his achievements.
Fun time for the audience began as celebrity guest speaker Wendy Williams was introduced. Always a powerhouse of enthusiasm, wit, and humor, Ms. Williams expressed her pride in being a New Jersey native. “I am from this area and am a graduate of Ocean Township High School, so this event means so very much to me,” she said as she recognized her parents who were in the audience. As a staunch advocate for women’s empowerment, she thanked Dr. Graebe for detailing important statistics in women’s health and vocalized her continued commitment to help women in need.
Outlining her 23-year career in radio, her stunning success in daytime television and her current role in the Broadway smash hit, “Chicago”, Ms. Williams declared, “Even though it sounds like I am doing so very much, and I am, it is not because I am a “super woman” but because I am a woman, and I truly believe as women we can do anything we set our minds to.” In classic Wendy Williams style, she mused, “Let’s face it. We women multitask much better than men, and frankly we are better than men.”
There is much veracity to Ms. Williams claims. Her top-rated daily radio show was syndicated nationally and reached an audience of more than 12 million people. She was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2009; a rare accomplishment in a predominantly male domain where only a handful of women have been accorded that honor.
In addition to her talk show host role, Ms. Williams is a best-selling author and has recently become an executive producer on her show. She also contributes a regular celebrity hot topics column to he entertainment magazine, “Life & Style Weekly”.
Those familiar with Ms. Williams’ career often link her to line that has become synonymous with her and on this day it was no different. “Many of you have come over to me today and said, “How U Doin’?” which means that you’re all still watching and listening to me and for that I express my deep appreciation and I invite you all to be part of the studio audience of my program,” she said.
As audience members lingered in the tent and chatted with the guests and among themselves, Susan MacGuire of Lincroft, New Jersey told The Jewish Voice, “The Power of Pink luncheon represents women helping women; it is a day of great joy and fun and wonderful shopping, all in the name of the most important cause I could think of. It is truly my honor to be part of it.”