You can “judge” a bash by its title, and with three recent events, the bannered name promised substantive socializing. “Celebration of Life” was the Legacy Donor Foundation’s reason for purposeful revelry at the annual Soul Revival; “Toast for the Coast” was presented by the New Orleans Pelicans to benefit Coastal Restoration Initiatives; and “Night of Green and Gold” infused chromatics into fundraising for education at Cabrini High School.
A sweet 16 it was for the number of Soul Revival bashes that have occurred since its inception in 1999. Through public education and awareness campaigns, the Legacy Foundation seeks to educate Louisianians about the critical need for organ, eye and tissue donation and to encourage registering as a donor. Among the statistics: “One donor can save the lives of nine people, give the gift of sight to two, and enhance the lives of up to 50 more through donor tissue donation.”
As they have for years, George and Lauren Brennan Brower opened their environs to the benefit. They own two properties — one is their home, and another, an office building with apartments — that face each other on Third Street. For the gallivanting, Third, just off St. Charles Avenue, was turned into a street party with the two properties making the connection. Hand-painted, heart-shaped signs were hung from the house highlighting the names of the Legacy Donor Foundation’s major supporters, including: Southern Eye Bank, Dickie Brennan’s Tableau, Lauren and George Brower, Harper Family Foundation, Ochsner Health System, Elizabeth A. Boh, Gifted Nurses, Joy and Boysie Bollinger, Goldring and Woldenberg Foundations, and Chevron. For starters.
Additional signs elicited smiles: “Life is good, Giving is better,” “Dance & Sing, Donate everything,” “Register now —We will show you how.”
A patron party launched the evening’s activity, followed by the hour-later “Celebration.” Throughout, guests made tracks to the food stations for the culinary delights of Dickie Brennan’s Tableau. How about baby back ribs, smoked beef brisket, shrimp skewers, and monkey bread pudding as a few of the menu choices? Befitting its name, HARO coffee & chocolate provided chocolates, pastries and hot chocolate.
The music always is varied and exciting. David Torkanowsky started the sounds during the patrons’ hobnobbing, and then the Soul Revival Gala commenced with the Gospel Soul Children, who led the patrons from the Browers’ house to the stage across the street. Band Camp was the headliner and DJ Rob Nice returned from Atlanta to emcee and deejay the event.
Luminaries in SR’s crowd of well over 700 were Chairwomen Mullady Voelker and Victoria White. Mullady, a Legacy board member, is the daughter of the foundation’s founder, the late David Voelker. David Briggs and Mark Romig, a co-chairman of the 2014 fun-raiser, were the honorary chairmen and an A-Z — Cameron Adams to Tee Zimmerman —listing of Ambassadors helped make the bash its best.
Noted among the many, many were LDF board Chairman William M. Prieur and spouse Ransdell, immediate past Chairwoman Machelle Payne with John, executive director Nicole Labadot with Ryan, sponsor/board member Joey M. Brown, Brad and Lindsey Brower Beard, the Rev. Willie and Julie Gable, Elly and Merritt Lane, Southern Eye Bank executive director William Buras, David Schulingkamp, the above Dickie Brennan with mom Lynne, Steve and Yvette Pettus, and Clint Smith. They and hundreds more espouse organ donations, heeding the sign, “Sing and Rejoice, It’s an Easy Choice.”
- Coastal Connections
Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha and Jennifer were among the VIPs making rounds at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas at the beckoning of the invitation to “Spend an Unforgettable Evening with the New Orleans Pelican Players and Coaches.” The sold-out patron party and live auction initiated the activity, which segued into “Toast for the Coast” at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds will benefit Audubon Nature Institute’s Research and Education on Coastal Preservation.
A trio of Presenting Sponsors were listed as Fox Sports New Orleans, Chevron, and Cox. More invitational information stated the suggested attire: “dressy casual.”
Features of the fundraiser were numerous and included flowers by Perfect Presentations, décor elements by Event Rentals, food by Audubon Catering (including a tasty shrimp and oyster stuffed eggplant casserole), and music making by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band during the patrons’ powwow, and, later at the “Toast,” Robin Barnes.
Getting the bidding groove on were those participating in the auction ado. Up for top bids were sports packages – one including a flight on the Pelicans team plane - and “Bowling Night with Anthony Davis.”
Coming and going within the “Coast’ crowd were Pelican executive Vice President Mickey Loomis and Melanie, and a quartet of senior vice presidents in Greg Bensel, Ed Lang with Rita, Michael Stanfield Jr. with Stacey, and Jean-Paul Dardenne with Lauren. Also, Pelicans Head Coach Monty Williams, All-Star forward (the above) Anthony Davis, forward Ryan Anderson, Barbara Newhouse, Jamie D’Amico, Rick Farrell, Ivan Echegarrua, Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman and Sally, Johnny Lopez, Steven Trotter, Warner and Pam Williams, and, from Chevron, Sakari Morrison. About 430 others joined the throng, showing their concern for the coast.
- A Colorful ‘Night’
At Cabrini High School, the “Green and Gold” gallivanting amassed a crowd that was prepped for bidding at the 150-items auction, enjoying the fine food from 32 restaurants and caterers, and turning an eager ear to lots of music. As the event chaircouple, Judy and Buddy Hartle were the party’s leading names and individuals, while Gulf Coast Bank & Trust was the sponsor.
Other limelighted party-goers were Cabrini President Ardley R. Hanemann Jr. with Liddy, Principal/alumna Yvonne Hrapmann with Daniel, assistant Principal Helen Tucker with Richard, director of special events Carol Martin with Jules, and Sister Alice Zanon , MSC.
And, from Gulf Coast Bank & Trust, there were President Guy Williams, Vice President Steve Dickey with Vera, and Millie Jones-Michael. They mingled with Blaine and Joann Gahagan, Steve and Judie Hebert, Kyle and Cookie Waters, Teresa Doran Billings and Robert, Cheryl and Mark Wall, Katie Berchak-Irby and Mathew Irby, Michelle and Chuck Douglas, and master of ceremonies/auctioneer Victor DelGiorno. A few of the above are alumnae of the girls’ school.
As guests arrived, 250 strong, they were amazed at the look of the Cabrini Gymnasium, which was transformed and filled with magic, plants and white twinkling lights. The illuminated Crescent, dear to the Cabrini hearts, was surrounded by flowers and lights, thus becoming the event’s focal point.
Of course, there was the music, and although the band was titled Midnight Special, it delivered joyful sounds well before that time.