In a segment that aired Tuesday on her daytime talk show, food maven Rachael Ray was accompanied by Billy Joel and Beth and Howard Stern to the unveiling of a room in her honor at Port Washington's North Shore Animal League America. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place last Wednesday.
"I can't even tell you what this woman means to me," Beth Stern, a longtime supporter of the nationally recognized no-kill shelter, told the crowd gathered at its new cage-free cat facility Bianca's Furry Friends. The space opens to the public later this month and features The Rachael Ray Room in recognition of the millions her foundation has raised for animal rescue.
"It's because of her that so many lives are saved. And she uses her platform and her show and her friendship to just save lives," continued the 47-year-old Stern, who with her husband, the Roosevelt- and Rockville Centre-raised radio icon Howard Stern, spearheaded the creation of the new facility.
Interior designer John Gidding, a frequent guest on Ray's show, crafted the room's plywood trees and catwalks and other features, inspired by the forests of upstate New York where Ray, 51, was born and raised. "It looks like the Adirondacks,” she marveled in the segment. Completely Custom Construction, of Huntington, donated labor.
"Isn't it great? They're just hanging out," said Howard Stern, 65, taking in the space as a clowder of cats and a kindle of kittens jumped, ran, played and slept.
The unveiling "was one of the greatest days of my life," Ray told the studio audience. The namesake room had come as a surprise to her.
Beth Stern wielded the giant scissors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, standing alongside a group including Howard Stern, Ray and her musician husband John Cusimano, and Hicksville-raised music legend Joel, holding a kitten.
The day before the segment aired, the North Shore Animal League America tweeted a photo of Beth Stern and Ray smiling at each other as Stern holds a cat and Ray touches Stern's head in The Rachael Ray Room. "Set your DVR's for a very special Rachael Ray Show tomorrow featuring a sneak peak [sic] of our new state-of-art adoption center!" the shelter wrote. "Warning! You'll want to grab the tissues for this one! #GetYourRescueOn."