Our History

French-American Aid for Children has a rich and vibrant history. FAAFC is committed to improving the lives of children since 1939.

1939
1940 – 1945
1946
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
2000
2020
PRESENT DAY

1939

The Original Six

FAAFC was founded in November 1939 by women who believed in making a difference in a world that had been ravaged by conflict. Simone Alibert Smith along with 5 other French women, married to Americans, decided that they could send back supplies and funds to France. The earliest fundraising activity was a Christmas bazaar at The Ritz Hotel in New York City. The members knitted clothing and sold handmade dolls.

Photo: Simone Smith, Henriette Hollander and Martha Baldwin

1939

1940 – 1945

The War Years: A Call to Action

Through her friendship with Anne Morgan, Chairman of the Coordinating Council of War Relief Agencies, daughter of J.P. Morgan and a francophile, Mrs Smith was able to establish contact and coordinate the war relief efforts  with the Quakers (American Friends Service Committee) and the American Red Cross working in Europe. FAAFC, first known as the “Committee of French-American Wives”, soon started sending supplies. President Roosevelt’s War Board granted them a license to operate.

(picture below courtesy of American Friends of Blerancourt)

 

1940 – 1945

1946

Bal des Berceaux

The “Bal des Berceaux” was created in 1946 as a fundraiser. The event was entirely organized and produced by the Junior Committee of FAAFC formed in 1942. The image of a stork bringing a newborn baby and the  “baby’s cradle” conveyed the activities of their main beneficiary: “le Refuge des Petits“, an orphanage founded in 1939 by A. Seymour Houghton, Jr. and his wife Germaine. The “Bal” became a popular event in the New York social calendar.

1946

1950s

Post-War Efforts

The group sent over 1,000 parcels to French prisoners of war. With the Liberation, thousands more packages were sent to Europe, filled with blankets, clothing, powdered milk and other necessities for distressed French families and orphans. A mobile x-ray machine was bought and sent to Europe. During that time, a number of organizations who wanted to send funds for charitable purposes to France and England used the Committee. It retained a fee of 5%, a welcome source of income. For her remarkable efforts, in 1950, France decorated Mrs. Smith with the insignia of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

(Photo: Mrs. John Sandifer, … , Mrs Leonard B. Smith, Mrs. Theodore Pahle)

1950s

1960s

The Glamour Years

After the war, the group continued to raise money for relief organizations through private efforts on a volunteer basis. The group’s goal is to aid selected organizations and answer appeals, wherever they may come from, in times of emergency. The Bal des Berceaux became an important event in the NYC social calendar where such celebrities as Maurice Chevalier and Charles Aznavour, to name a few, were attendees. 

(Photo: Mrs. Claude Palmieri, Mrs.Françoise Bordes, M. Maurice Chevalier)

1960s

1970s

The Debutante Years

In the late 1970s, the group decided to introduce debutantes as part of the Bal des Berceaux using the model of debutantes where the young ladies were presented to society. Debutante balls can be traced back to as early as the 1600s when the French ladies would be presented to society, notably the King and the Queen.  Debutante comes from the French word of “débuter” or “to start”.  For more than 40 years, the ball was a highlight of the season.

1970s

1980s

FAAFC “Children Come First”

In 1988, the association changed its name from “Committee of French-American Wives” to “French-American Aid for Children” to better reflect the work that was being done. The group chose a logo depicting two children holding French and American flags. “Children Come First” was created as a tagline and continues to be the association’s motto ever since.

1980s

2000

Visits to grantees and program selection

FAAFC’s Board  members and supporters regularly schedule visits to their NY based grantees in order to experience firsthand the work of both potential or existing organizations they choose to support. These visits offer an opportunity to build a strong relationship with each grantee and allow a deeper understanding of how the various programs directly impact the children. The picture below was taken during a visit to the Children’s Village, one of FAAFC longtime grantee.

2000

2020

Today, FAAFC is composed of members from France, America and many other countries who are motivated to make a difference in children’s lives in both France and the United States while strengthening the bonds of friendship between these two nations. The Junior Board has vibrant and dedicated members who are eager to make a difference. They hold regular meetings, organize various events and are directly supporting two of FAAFC’s programs.They recently joined FAAFC members in supporting the Save the Children walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to raise funds for girls.

2020

PRESENT DAY

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, FAAFC has awarded an exceptional $500K grant to Sanctuary for Families to support their Children & Family Services Program over the course of two years.

We are thrilled to provide immediate direct support to thousands of vulnerable children within our own NYC community. Sanctuary´s impactful work is in perfect alignment with our mission, assisting underserved children whose lives as victims of domestic abuse are significantly worsened by the trauma of the current public health crisis, school closures, and economic downturn.

This grant will provide the children support through emergency food distribution, telehealth access, sanitation measures, facilities upgrade, and access to Camp Hope. We are proud to extend a helping hand to Sanctuary and together make “Children come First”

Our Leadership

Our full board of directors provides leadership to the organization. Click the link below to see a complete list of our directors and officers.

Our Junior Board

Our Junior Board is composed of young leaders eager to learn how to fundraise, run a nonprofit, advocate for children, communicate and volunteer with children.