Meet Seema Boesky: The Philanthropist Next Door

Some people make the world a better place.  Seema Boesky is just one of those people.  She is smart, funny, engaging and full of life.  At 79 years “young”. while most are contemplating about moving into senior independent living, Seema is actually renovating her magnificent home, She actually showed me the plans.  Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) is just one of the many charities, that has been a beneficiary of Seema’s generosity and philanthropy.  Seema Boesky is being honored this weekend at Northern Westchester Hospital annual gala on Saturday, November 2, 2019 in a spectacular tent on the Hospital’s campus.  Seema has supported NWH’s mission, to bring advanced surgical and emergency care to our region.

Where did you grow up? 

Detroit, Michigan

You grew up and lived in a city for so long, why did you make your move to the country?  

I fell in love with NY City, bought a country house in Greenwich which soon became our home, when my four 4 children told me they preferred country life.  There they felt free from parental eyes watching them 24-7. I related to that, so off we went .

What are your charities of choice?

Today I’m focused on having an impact, so eliminated the smaller gifts and give to a few. That allowed me to give more meaningful donations. My goal is to save lives, literally and figuratively, especially children. In Westchester, my charities of choice are the NWHospital and Boys and Girls Club of Northern Westchester.

On Nov 2, Northern Westchester Hospital will be honoring you for your many years of support, especially for funding the new Cancer Center. Can you tell us how that came about?

I played a part in saving the life of a father of 3 children. That experience has never left my mind. It changed my giving habits to primarily saving human lives.

You are advocate for children and education.  What areas do you think needs the most attention? 

They are all important. One should give from their heart. I believe, what speaks to an individual based upon their life experience will direct them to the most gratifying gift. I like to invest my time and money on early intervention, the returns are greater, faster, and the best part, they have time to pay it forward for generations.

How do you keep so fit?

SUGAR!!! I am a sugar-holic. I struggled with weight until I was in my mid 50’s, when I started weighing myself daily. I hated working out, but found a trainer, Rick Schutz, who twice weekly customizes a workout program for his clients. I’ve stuck with him because he makes it fun, I get results, lost 18 pounds in the beginning and have kept if off for 20+ years.  His 30 second massage at the end of each muscle work out group is worth it!  The best part, he gives sage advice. Now, I mourn instead of celebrate when Rick takes a vacation.  Add luck and dressing to hide my sins helps!

What was it like owning The Beverly Hills Hotel at age 13 with your sister?  Did you get to visit often? Who did you see there?

The stories are endless, I met many world leaders, Hollywood stars, everybody and everyone. When it’s the life you’re born into, you assume your friends are experiencing special events too when they travel on holidays. I spent most of mine there. My father didn’t tell me it and was mine, I thought it was his until he died.

Where is your favorite place she has traveled

My favorite place to travel-is always GOING HOME to Mt. Kisco. That is my favorite place in the world!!! If I’m returning from Palm Beach, I know I’ve had a perfect time. I’ve been going since age 12, it’s like my second home.

How long have you been involved with NWH? Would you want to share a few words about her co-honoree, Joel Seligman, who will be retiring at the end of the year?

I’ve been involved with the Hospital for 43 years, and under Joel’s leadership for 20. I’ve watched him transform NWH in to one of America’s greatest community Hospitals. Joel is a born leader. He inspires all, and has assembled a great team. Anyone familiar with our Hospital sees and feels a culture and work ethic that is rare in such institutions. All who know Joel love him. I’m beyond proud that he has asked me to be his co-honoree!

How do we get more people to become involved in philanthropy regardless of time or huge amounts of funds to give!?

I believe it’s in our DNA. We’re not taught to tap into it. It’s simple and smart to be philanthropic. It’s a win-win. Investing in others is smart, with huge benefits to all, yet this is a secret? I was taught to give and do for others. That early advice impacted everything that followed.

By giving and doing my friendships were formed with like-minded people, good people. I met lots of professionals dedicated to helping others. Over the years they’ve been there for me. Those I’ve helped feel indebted for life, even though I’ve not asked for anything in return. They express gratitude when seeing me and have become lifelong friends! –

That simple advice is why the Hospital is honoring me, why I have so many to love, and love me back. I meet people in all walks of life who enrich my life as I’ve enriched theirs.

I am a MaxxInista too!!! What’s was your best find ever?  Investing in TJ’s stock!!!

I can’t remember my best outfit, no doubt it’s still hanging in my closet. I shop there and consignment shops exclusively. Hopefully you’ll see some of my best at the Gala. I love combining my old “buys” in new ways. I’ll shop in my closet the week of the event for my outfit.

I hear your peony garden is unrivaled.  What do you with all those lovely blooms? I hear that you have donated many of them for local galas. Can you tell me about that?

I am a grower, meaning I prep them, cut buds, refrigerate them (7 refrigerators) and use as needed. They last for 6-8 weeks. This allows me to use what’s needed for charity events, parties, etc. I did one wedding, once was enough, all that could go wrong did! But the flowers were fabulous in the end-and yes, they were my peonies.

Dogs or cats? 

My last dog forever, Sashi, died 5 years ago. There will never be another. I couldn’t bear to predecease a dog. No one will love it like me. I don’t want to extend my life for fear of what happens to my dog. I’ve made peace knowing I’ve had my last such love affair. BTW, Sashi was one in a million, after being neutered, he fathered two litters with a Bijon named Angel, belonging to Bonnie Trotta. Angel rejected top breeders, one doggie play date and history was made. 11 puppies made many families happy.

What projects are you involved with now?

Aside from renovating 1/3rd of my home, I dabble in real estate, and advise a few charities. I oversee my investments, basically I’m enjoying the good life. Free time is beautiful when you’ve friendships to nurture that nurture you. I continue living life by giving and doing, so I’m still surrounded by loving, caring people. That’s what life should be about.

What social ills disturb you?  What would you like to see change?

I’m disturbed by today’s discourse, the tone and lack of respect shown by leaders. For me there is but one truth. I believe in loving thy neighbor. America’s values (post Trump) were important, as is our constitution. I pray democracy wins. With all it’s faults, there is no place like America. Change——TRUMP!

If you could pick one thing that you could solve in the world, what would it be?

I would replace hatred with love,throw in a climate change fix…it would be a near perfect world!

How would you like to be remembered?

No time for that. I’m too busy thinking about what to eat. I’ll let others, if there any that remain with a memory of me when I die, to figure that out.

Who would play you in the movie version of your life?

Who else, ME! That movie will never be made. My best secrets I take with me!!

 

The NWH Gala begins with cocktails at 6:30 p.m a program and dinner at 8 p.m and dancing at 9:30 p.m. The theme is Art as Inspiration and Art as Transformation. It is expected to draw record attendance of over 800 guests. To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit www.nwhconnect.org/2019Gala.

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