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Last week, I got to help celebrate the donation of right at a half-million dollars to various worthy community causes. It’s one of the perks of my job — getting to see firsthand just how generous Baton Rougeans are. And, make no mistake, we are a very giving, caring community.

Woman’s Auxiliary

The Woman’s Hospital Auxiliary doled out $10,000 in grants at its annual fall luncheon and membership meeting Sept. 11 at Ruffino’s Restaurant. This year’s event had an LSU theme, so greeting members were Bengal Belle Machita Eyre and LSU Elvis, aka Dixon McMakin. Dixon was in rare form, making this group of women happy beyond words as he kissed hands, cheeks and posed for photos.

Auxiliary President Rose Marie Fife explained that the theme was chosen because Woman’s is sponsoring the Oct. 2 Bengal Belle luncheon in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Woman’s CEO Teri Fontenot confessed she didn’t have a clue and just happened to pull the her purple suit out of the closet that morning.

Now, the Oct. 2 luncheon is right before LSU travels to Auburn so I suspect you’ll see more purple and gold and very little breast cancer pink. I, however, will be decked out in MY Tigers orange and blue.

Knock Knock

Later that afternoon, the board of the Knock Knock Children’s Museum and BREC hosted a reception at BREC headquarters to announce that Art Favre and Performance Contractors are ponying up $425,000 as the lead sponsor of Knock Knock’s “By-You Building” Learning Zone. They had samples of several of the hands-on creative construction activities that will be featured in the learning zone, and the kids in attendance were having the time of their lives, as were their parents.

Once completed, the learning zone will include the Knock Knock Bridge, a construction crane, catenary arch, wood block construction table, building project work table, real tool work station, Duplo bridge-building challenge, hurricane wind tube, industrial pipe construction activity and construction gear/tool belt dress-up and mirror.

Irish Club

Getting our Irish on topped the agenda the night of Sept. 12. Several hundred thirsty Irishmen and wannabes filled the Celtic Media Centre for the Baton Rouge Irish Club’s annual Wine & Food Experience hosted by Whitney Vann and Allen Kinney.

Featured food vendor was Le- Blanc’s Frais Marché. Participating restaurants included Beausoliel, Mansurs on the Boulevard, Uncle O’s, Crescent Crown, French Market Bistro, Desserts First, Café du Jour @ the Whistle Stop and Nothing Bundt Cakes. Entertainment for the night was by Houston-based band The Jig is Up and bagpiper Will Brian.

This year’s event was chaired by Joann Guidry. Committee members were Denise Aymond, Alyssa Aymond, Randall Barksdale, Aaron Bayham, Monica King, Brooke Laney, Roxanne and Gill Leachman, Laura McDavitt, Jim McHugh, Belinda Mounce, Michael Murphy, Marcie Shepherd and Kinney.

Rathbone Society

With a $23 million renovation and expansion completed, Mary Bird Perkin - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center is now ready to embark on a $25 million initiative “to become the destination cancer center for the Gulf South.” That was the good news shared by center CEO Todd Stevens at the annual Rathbone Society dinner Sept. 14.

Several hundred members and special guests filled the Renaissance Hotel ballroom for the gala evening, which honored the girls’ volleyball teams from St. Joseph’s Academy and St. Michael High School and their coaches, Sivi Miller and Rob Smith, respectively, with the Louis D. Curet Volunteer Fundraiser Award, and Bill Peters with the Hillar C. Moore Jr. Outstanding Volunteer Award. Helping present these awards were Curet, DA Hillar Moore III, Mary Bird Perkins board Chairman Dr. Tom Meek and center administrator Linda Lee.

Since the inception of a special volleyball game between the two schools, some $50,000 has been raised for the fight against breast cancer. That fight became very personal last year when SJA’s Principal Linda Harvison and its Vice Principal Jacqueline Labat both were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Peters has volunteered at the center for nearly 15 years, serving as both a board member and as chairman of the foundation board.

Lucky me, I was seated at the table with the children and granddaughter of the late Dr. Jack Rathbone and wife Barbara. By dinner’s end I felt like I was a “cousin once removed.”

Moans Couture

Mardi Gras is not only tons of fun, it’s big business, but there’s also a charitable side. Moans Couture jewelry designer Chris Crouch unveiled his handcrafted line of custom-designed crowns, scepters, statement necklaces, rings and bracelets at a wine and cheese reception at Gabriella Rothschild’s Sept. 5. A raffle of some of Chris’ designs benefited The Emerge Center, where store owner Camilla Ford sits on the board. The next evening, they showcased the exquisite creations for members of the Krewe of Apollo at Splash, with a portion of all sales benefiting its AIDS/HIV Crisis Fund.

Chris is a good friend and Broadway co-worker of Baton Rouge native Aaron Kinchen. They met last while Aaron was working on “Mamma Mia!” as a hair stylist and wig maker. “Once I saw his work, I said I’m taking you to Louisiana,” said Aaron. “Mardi Gras needs your talent.”

You can see the looks at Gabriella Rothschild’s, which is now the exclusive dealer for Moans Couture locally.

Mu Sigma

The Mu Sigma chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority introduced its 19th debutante coterie at its annual presentation tea, “A Tribute to Maya Angelou,” Aug. 24 at the chapter’s sorority house.

The debs were introduced by cotillion Co-chairwoman Elouise Colbert. They are Albrittany A’daria Chambers, daughter of Nicole Richardson and Derrick Chambers; Jyla Lynette Ford, daughter of Jacqueline and Jeffery Ford; and Morgan Dee Georgetown, daughter of Amelia and David Georgetown. They will be formally introduced at the cotillion later this year.

Cotillion co-chairwoman Deirdre Harris Stepter and 2013 debutante Queen DáJiaron Rochelle Houston presented the life of Maya Angelou following a video excerpt from one of Angelou’s many inspirational interviews. This year’s debs presented Angelou’s most famous and memorable poems, including “Caged Bird” and “Phenomenal Woman.”

Mu Sigma President Brenda Smith made brief closing remarks and acknowledgments. Following the program, guests enjoyed refreshments and mingled with the debutantes. Committee members include Brittny Barnes, Deborah Daniels, Lolita Howard, Rochelle Howard, Roshaunda Jackson, Niakatia LeBlanc, Sylvia Smith and Sharon Weatherspoon.

To view photos, please click here.

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