Angels, activists, revolution, haute cuisine and haute couture were all on last week’s agenda, making for an interesting week of party hopping across the Capital City.
Dining in the Dark
The invitation for Lighthouse Louisiana’s fundraising dinner Oct. 23 definitely piqued your interest. It invited you to a scrumptious six-course dinner at Galatoire’s Bistro that you ate in the dark, thanks to sleep masks. Lighthouse assists those who are blind and this event gave supporters the opportunity to experience for one memorable night what its clients do everyday. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Travis Smith, who lost his sight at age 20, but not his sense of humor. He helped guide me and our fellow tablemates through the dinner. I managed to get all the way to the third course before I tried to eat an empty fork; something Travis warned me about.
Also participating in this adventure were Whitney Vann and husband Robert Schneckenburger, Nikki and James Slayton, Abby and Doug Cochran, Phyllis and Lee McLaurin and, my host, Lonnie Stockwell and wife Maureen. It was an evening none of us will ever forget.
Before heading to Galatoire’s, I stopped by the Capitol Park Museum for the official VIP opening of “Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn.” Lt. Gov. J ay Dardenne was beaming with pride; the museum is under his office. Mayor Kip Holden got to dust off his Napoleon costume to join several others in representing characters from that period of our nation’s history.
Because I had the Lighthouse dinner, I could only take a cursory look at the amazing exhibit, but I did make a point of checking out Napoleon’s death mask as well as one of Thomas Paine. I’ll definitely be going back, and if you have any interest in history, you need to put this on your to-do list. The exhibit runs through March 1.
The day started with Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana’s luncheon kicking off its annual fundraising campaign at the Renaissance. Welcoming the hundred-plus guests were board President Lana Crump and Executive Director Amanda Brunson, who introduced a new video produced by WBRZ-TV. It revealed some starting statistics.
Did you know that child abuse costs taxpayers $80 billion annually? That every adult trained on how to detect child abuse protects 10 children from sexual abuse? That, to get help, all you have to do is call 1 (800) CHILDREN?
Those are just a couple of the reasons PCAL’s focus is now on prevention. Another is that research shows holes in the brain development of abused and neglected children. “Children are our most precious resource,” said immediate past board President Brad Ewing in announcing PCAL’s annual fund goal of $100,000. Fortunately for Louisiana’s children, more than $57,000 has already been raised.
The following day, I had lunch at Juban’s with the Friends of the LSU Textile & Costume Museum, and they had a full agenda. Special guest was LSU graduate Pedram Taheri, who was just back from a successful showing at Los Angeles Fashion Week. Models Sarah Faulk, Mimi Lebourgeois and Jessica Mushtare caused jaws to drop when they entered in his Pedram Couture spring evening ware fashions. He also announced that he’s signed on with WantMyLook.com to launch a ready-to-wear New Year’s Eve collection.
“It feels good to have all this love and support form my hometown,” said Pedram as he fielded questions from the Friends.
Before Pedram and his fashions took center stage, the group conducted a little business by presenting Marie Popov with Mignon Faget and Campus Federal Credit Union with its 2014 Patron of the Year award, presented by museum curator Pam Vinci. President Joy Smith reminded everyone of the group’s annual Your Friends Closet Sale, set for Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LSU 4-H Mini Farm.
The week began with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s 20th annual Angel Award Gala Oct. 20 at the Renaissance. This year’s honorees included Baton Rouge residents Laura Domingue, Trafficking Hope; Jennifer Maggio, Life of a Single Mom Ministries; and Nancy Zito, Gardere Community Christian School. Also Ashley Belding, of New Orleans, Camp Pelican; Brian Hunter, of Shreveport, Common Ground Community; Isaac McFarland, of Keithville, Game Changers; Debbie and Hank Perret, of Lafayette, Miles Perret Cancer Services; and Jackie Curtis Silverman, of River Ridge, New Orleans Women’s Shelter. BCBS will make a $20,000 donation in each of their names to their charity.
BCBS employee Laura Landry received this year’s Blue Angel award and it’s $5,000 grant for her role in founding the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of Baton Rouge. Son David accompanied his mom onstage to receive the award.
In a nod to the event’s 20th anniversary, several past Angels served as presenters. They included Dr. Stewart Gordon, Sister Rosario O’Connell, Jesse Cavalier, Cory Howart, Chris Broussard, Janet Leslie, Pinkie Windsor, Sal Militello and Ann Keene.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals and Leave a Legacy Council hosted an informational wine and cheese reception at Juban’s Oct. 21 for those who’ll be honored at the groups’ National Philanthropy Day Luncheon Nov. 13. This year’s honorees include Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, the Albert Frankel family, Baton Rouge High School Foundation, Sharing Shores Indian Women’s Association, Christopher Cieselski, Pinki Diwan, Joey Roth and the late Mark Ballard.
Legacy honorees include Michael Robinson and Don Boutté, Jim Brandt, Lowry Griffon, Margaret Womack Hart, Kathleen and Clay Smilie and the late John Dubois.
Hospice of BR
I followed Michael and Don downtown for The Hospice of Baton Rouge’s 30th anniversary celebration at the Manship Theatre. “Each of you in some way are a part of our 30-year history,” emcee Ralph Stevens told those assembled for the event.
Aside from Michael and Don, they included Moffitt Aycock, Sissy Stephens, Carole and Charlie Lamar, Judy Day and Mary Beth Chevalier, who served as Hospice’s second executive director.
“She got us United Way certified … she did the hard part,” said current Executive Director Kathryn Grigsby, who’s been in that role for 20 years.
The Emerge Center (formerly Baton Rouge Speech & Hearing Foundation) rolled out the welcome mat at its new digs Oct. 22 for a wine and cheese reception to introduce this year’s Volunteer Activists to the board and past activists.
Leading a toast to this year’s recipients was Executive Director Melissa Juneau. They include Lori Bertman, Judy Foil, Gwen and Todd Graves, Gwen Hamilton, Brian Haymon, Janice Pellar, Randy Roussel, Stephen Toups, Joe Traigle and Jacqui Vines, as well as Margaret M. Neely Award recipients Angela and Craig Bergeron.
The luncheon takes place Nov. 7 at 11:30 a.m. at the Renaissance Hotel.
‘Taste of the South’
I didn’t have too far to travel for my next event, just down the road a bit to L’Auberge Casino & Hotel for the Louisiana Restaurant Association's “Taste of the South” dining event. It featured chefs Peter and Gino Sclafani with Ruffino’s Restaurants, Chris Lusk with Restaurant R’evolution, Jeremy Langlois with Latil’s Landing at Houmas House Plantation and Holly Goetting with Charley G’s, demonstrating how they prepared the dishes being served.
Each dish was accompanied by a fine wine, described to diners by industry reps from Republic Wines, Mockler Beverage, NOLA Uncorked and Purveyors of Fine Wine. Among those diners were Jan and Bruce Attinger, Linda and Denis Mitchell, Melanie and Dr. Craig Vitrano, Karen and Bill Profita, Ruffin Rodrigue, Justin McDonald and Paul Arrigo.
In between the salad and entrée and the entrée and dessert was a very spirited live auction conducted by Peter Sclafani and Greg Reggio. Serving on the committee with Sclafani were Jeanette Eisworth, Renée Molbert, Brian Edwards, Lisa Boudreaux, Toni Pirello and Kevin Kimball.
To see the photos, please click here.
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