Starry Night

Nocturnal attention turned to Belle Reve and its annual fundraising gala, “Starry Night,” that took place in Generations Hall with Avita Pharmacy as the title sponsor. Occurring in the Metropolitan One Room, it kicked off with a one-hour patron party followed by the gala itself. “Great food, music and fun” were promised. Delivered, too.

Tia’s Catering, Zea’s Restaurant, Popeyes, and Fleur Delicioso fed the flock that turned an attentive ear to the slated live entertainment of DJ and Emcee of Mobile Music. Turned an eager eye, as well, to the auction items.

Various individual donors to the silent auction included Milton Cheramie and Curry Miller, Peter Briant, John Etter, Cam Mangham, James Arey, Ed Chapman and Christian Rountree, Pat Jolly, Kiki Huston, Jeffie Lanter, Lillie Eyrich, and Anne Garic. John Groth reaped thanks as an individual sponsor among a roster of eight major ones.

Additional features were the Red Eye Photo Booth from Lafont Realty, party souvenirs from Jim Howell Photography, and Sally Caraway’s printing and artwork that was printed by Sir Speedy Printing New Orleans. More gratitude targeted those donors.

Headliners included Belle Reve executive director Vicki Weeks with program coordinator Michele D’Aquin, and such board members as President Rodney Culotta; event Co-Chairwoman Katy Caraway with partner Kerry Sicomo; Wayne Chambless; Ann Porter Uhlhorn with partner Natalie Lafont of Lafont Realty; Dr. Markalain Dery; Kelley Mackenroth with husband D. Irwin; Christian Rountree and Edwin Chapman; Ronnie Cure with Nathan Thomas; and Eronica King.

Mary Elizabeth Wilkes co-chaired the bash along with Katy Caraway. Figuring on the committee were Courtney Cola, Krystel Garcia, Sally Caraway, Jimmy Farenholtz with partner Pam Butler, and the above Ann and Kelly.

They in turn mingled with Troy Roth, Billy Henry, Dr. Mel and Judy Kossover, Nancy Briant with Peter, Bob Trepagnier and Ralph Cheramie, Carol Etter with John, Michael Boucree and Ivan Griffin, Dr. Jody Gates and Marilyn McConnell, Marlene Chandler, Gerald Etienne, Raina Carter, Anna Laforce, Jorge Munoz (Avita Pharmacy), and Central St. Matthew United Church of Christ Pastor Phillip Brockett and spouse Olga.

Good cause figured into the format. Belle Reve’s mission is to provide permanent and transitional housing, along with supportive social services, to individuals and families living with disabilities, including HIV and/or AIDS. Chartered in 1992, it operates two Adult Residential Care facilities and four apartments. The goal is to help cared-for individuals move back to independent living, where they can become more productive members of society.

The name, Belle Reve, recalls that of the family home of Blanche DuBois and sister Stella Kowalski as mentioned in the Tennessee Williams play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The French word, “Reve,” means dream.

Dedication

Tulane Catholic, the Catholic student center at Tulane University, opened its new 8,400 square foot facility on a recent Sunday afternoon. For three hours, students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff friends and the general public celebrated the occasion. Hundreds and hundreds of people showed up.

The dedication ceremony began with addresses from Tulane University President Michael Fitts; the Rev. Thomas Schaefgen, O.P., director of the campus ministry; and Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, who blessed the new facility. Tulane Catholic is a ministry of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Martin de Porres. Along with President Fitts, Father Schaefgen and Archbishop Aymond, Phyllis Taylor joined in the ribbon-cutting.

The new, $2.6 million facility was designed by HMS Architects and built by F.H. Construction. It is named for the late Rev. Val Ambrose McInnes, O.P., the first Dominican friar to serve in campus ministry at Tulane University.

Jacques-Imo’s catered and live jazz music came via Tim Laughlin and his crew. Stories about Father McInnes and his “amazing impact” on the campus of Tulane and his legacy circulated continuously.

Noted were Henry Lambert and Carey Bond, Cynthia and Robert LeBlanc, Frank and Paulette Stewart, Britt and Nan Galloway, Ken and Margaret Beer, Dr. Tony and Ann Fuselier, and Father McInnes’ niece, Marilyn Caldarone. Also, Dominican Province of St. Martin de Porres Provincial the Rev. Tom Condon, O.P.; Yvette Jones, TU executive vice president for University Relations and Development; Luann Dozier, TU vice president of development; and the center’s director of development, Madelaine Kuns Bruschini and husband Francesco.

About 450 more moved about, touring the three-story building that includes a social gathering hall, a 140-seat chapel, a classroom, conference room, library and office space for staff.

One Newcomb College alumna (who, years ago, logged many hours in the old building) and her spouse stayed for hours. “This is so special,” she said about the facility’s being named for Father Val McInnes, a dear friend to many. “He baptized and buried members of our family,” she said, “and officiated at the marriage of my husband and me.”

A Fine Festa

On an earlier Sunday, and after Mass at Cabrini High School’s Sacred Heart Chapel, the Cefalutana Society, “Societa Italiana di Mutua Beneficenza,” celebrated the 128th anniversary of its annual Festa in honor of Gesu Salvatore, patron saint of Cefalu in Sicily. Society member the Rev. Michael Marascalco was the celebrant of the Mass (and later gave the luncheon’s invocation).

Then it was on to Andrea’s Restaurant for the feasting and fraternizing. Chicken parmesan and pesce Ponte Vecchio were among the many taste treats. Of course, such a meal would not be the same without music and Joe DeNone rose to the vocal occasion. A regular for the Cefalutana Society, Joe sang the national anthems of the U.S. and of Italy before regaling the crowd of dozens with various Italian favorites.

Scholarship, too, was prominently recognized, thanks to the establishment of a special award. The Cefalutana Society’s Salvatore J. Serio Presidential Award in the amount of $1,000 was given to Miranda Kelley, a senior at Cabrini. She wrote an essay about someone in her life who represented St. Francis Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), patron saint of immigrants. As its above fuller name states, Cefalutana tries to continue its role as a benevolent society in the Crescent City.

Eleven states were represented at the luncheon of the society, which claims almost 200 members. Cefalutana Society President Joe Battaglia introduced the 2015 officers.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were emeritus President (Presidente Emerito) Salvatore J. Serio, Judge Kerry Anzalone, Judge Camille Buras, New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell, Gonzales City Councilman Kenneth Skein, Iberville Parish Councilman Edwin Reeves, and representation from the East Jefferson Italian American Society.

And, Linda Serio, Bette Cadwell, Peter LaManno, Angelo Brocato, Tony Brocato, Anna Marie Brocato, David Matassa, John Robert Marascalco, and Sal D’Antoni.