- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2004

A mere handful of embassies have the financial resources, staff and space to accommodate large Washington charity events. With only so much largess to spread around, is it any wonder local doyennes compete madly to secure a glamorous diplomatic location for their pet causes — with top-notch food and drink thrown in?

Most of the 350 guests paying $200 apiece to come to the residence of Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato Wednesday night would have agreed that no one does it better than Lolo Sarnoffon behalf of Arts for the Aging (AFTA), the service organization she founded in 1988 to provide art workshops for physically and psychologically impaired seniors.

Mrs. Sarnoff didn’t mind revealing that she owed her coup to getting there first — plus a bit of luck — as she made her way through the vast reception rooms to greet longtime supporters.

“I met the wife of the new ambassador the first week she was here and asked her right away,” Mrs. Sarnoff told a reporter. “I told her the thing that would interest her most in life would be to do a benefit for Arts for the Aging.”

Mrs. Sarnoff maintained she was “only joking,” but that’s where luck came in. It turned out that Hanayo Kato was extremely interested in AFTA’s programs because there are so many old people in Japan.

“Japanese people live longer than anyone else in the world,” Mrs. Kato confirmed later as she chatted amiably with guests quaffing Laurent-Perrier champagne or queuing for a spectacular buffet of sushi, sashimi and other native dishes.

A pamphlet inside gift bags handed out at the door revealed that life expectancy in Japan is the world’s highest, but that alcohol and rich food have nothing to do with it.

Restricted calorie and cholesterol intake were cited as the chief reason Japan has more than 20,000 people more than 100 years old.

There were few, if any dieters in evidence at the “not-to-be-missed” affair, which was a “command performance” forKay Kendall, BillandDorothy McSweenyandGertrude d’Amecourt, a beau geste for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgand 10 ambassadors who also stopped by.

At least three of them were well aware they have embassies big enough to host the event next year.

Kevin Chaffee

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