Countess Lu-Ann de Lesseps of the reality TV show "The Real Housewives of New York."
Janet Shefts  /  Janet Shefts
Countess Lu-Ann de Lesseps of the reality TV show "The Real Housewives of New York."
NBC News
updated 7/11/2008 5:02:08 PM ET 2008-07-11T21:02:08

Each month, Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This month we chat with Countess Lu-Ann de Lesseps of the reality TV show "The Real Housewives of New York" about her work with the Auditory Oral School of New York. The Auditory Oral School of New York teaches deaf and hard of hearing children to listen, talk, think and socialize so they can be integrated into regular school programs. 

Question: What is the Auditory Oral School of New York and can you briefly describe its mission?

Answer: The Auditory Oral School of New York takes children who are either deaf or hearing impaired and educates them, trying to get them back into the mainstream of the school system in New York.

Q: What is your role with this organization?

A: My role has been to bring people to their events -- to really raise awareness and bring people to the table -- literally!

Q: How long have you been involved?

A: Over the last two years.

Q: You work with various different charities; what makes this one special?

A: My husband (Alexandre Countde Lesseps) lost his hearing in his right ear five years ago — it’s called sensor-neural deafness — … and it’s been a really difficult handicap for him. We don’t realize how handicapping it is not to be able to hear … and my husband has made me aware of what it is to have a problem with your hearing.

Q: What’s the most moving experience you’ve had since being involved with this group?

A: I am just amazed at the dedication that the people that work for this school have. … They really want to make a difference for these kids, who nobody really knows about.

Q: Has being a “Real Housewife of New York” affected your charity work?

A: One of the reasons I did the show was to raise awareness … and it’s been a great pleasure to be able to bring that kind of attention to the charities that I do.

Q: What inspires and energizes you to help people?

A: Well, my background is in nursing. I’m an LPN -- licensed practical nurse -- and I just take great pleasure in helping people … who need my help. And when I arrive at the door and they say, ‘Oh thank God you’re here,’ … and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Q: What should people know about the Auditory Oral School of New York and why should they consider giving money or time?

A:  What they should know is that (hearing loss) can happen to anybody.  … If they can’t afford it financially, then they can give their time by helping out, and it’s just a really special place. I’m lucky and privileged to be a part of it, and a part of this group of people that work towards mainstreaming these children. It’s about our future; it’s about the kids.

Interviewed by Giacinta Pace, NBC News

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