Midday merriment and munificence thanked the 25 Club and its dancing duos, all with a nod to friendship, and for funds, Kingsley House’s annual Friendship Luncheon and, elsewhere on a different date, “ACCESS Is On the Move.” The respective venues were the New Orleans Country Club, Kingsley House’s Historic Gymnasium (circa 1932) and the Audubon Tea Room.

A Toot and a Tout

The 25 Club Jazz Brunch announced its yearly assembly with, as scripted on the invitation, “Good friends, good music, good food, good times.” All were realized at the revelry. The names of Anne Buescher, Melissa Gordon (club president), Carol Messersmith, Ann Middleton, Helene Tebo and Diane Zatarain were mastheaded on the invitation, as well. Joining them were spouses Frank Buescher, Bruce Gordon, Billy Messersmith and Chuck Zatarain. Dan Todd made dance floor rounds with Middleton.

Noted, too, were Mignon Parker with Gulf Coast based-daughter Mimi, Karen Heausler Cordes, Caroline and Dr. Reginald Sanders, Louise and Gary Schaefer, Lynn and Ross McClave, Kirsti and Shirley Friend, Jane and Tom Wicker, Kathy and Tom Casey, Carlos Ann and Gary Danos, Cathy and Ronald Faust, and Sandra and Ralph Junius (who’ve got 17 grandchildren).

Martini glasses — some upright and others artistically lying on the tables — and colorful rose petals added the decorative accents, as did crisscrossed swizzle sticks and large music notes to remind everyone that this originated as a dancing party for 25 “charming couples.” As time went by, the group grew larger. The more, the midday merrier!

Brunch pleasures were many and included the Country Club’s tasty turtle soup, grits and grillades and other traditional fare, all capped with an almond tuile dessert with peppermint ice cream and chocolate sauce. “Scrumptious” resounded to describe the treat.

Needless to say, the music added its own form of treats, thanks to The Horizon Band’s players. Their sights and sounds produced such hits as “Stand By Me,” “New York, New York” and “What a Wonderful World.” For those on the dance floor, it was a wonderful whirl.

Another “World”

In the historic gymnasium, “Kingsley House: What a Wonderful World” marqueed the fifth annual Friendship Luncheon chaired by Sheldon Lykes and Jeffery Waltz. Attendees were invited gratis, but were asked to make a donation to KH during the program.

The gym became a spring garden via flower-shaped balloons hanging from the rafters; tables adorned with lilac linens and tall floral centerpieces by Fat Cat Flowers; and a stage backdrop created by KH teacher Karent Hansell of a spring day with swans and papier-mâché trees.

Recalled were the “Wonderful World” lyrics, “I see trees of green … I see skies of blue.”

As guests sat — the program began promptly at noon — they savored the cuisine of Donald Link (of restaurants Herbsaint, Cochon, Butcher, and Peche).

Features of the program were Head Start participant Mayon Ward’s recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, the KH preschoolers’ skit and “Wonderful World” song tribute to Louis Armstrong; Adult Service participant JoAnn Sparks’ reading of a poem relating what makes KH a “Wonderful World”; and the students’ distribution of roses to the guests. “I see … red roses, too” figures as yet another line in the thematic song.

Noted at the gathering were Kingsley House CEO Keith Liederman and spouse Luanne, board President Melanie Bronfin with Daniel, vice president/master of ceremonies Miles Channing Thomas, Peter Kovacs, Walt Handelsman, Gus and Kit Fritchie, Gary Baker, Martha Landrum, Margaret Beer, Sandra Heller, Colette and Joe Friend, Joey Walker, Katherine Gelderman, Lynn and Digges Morgan, Caitrin and Davd Gladow, LaVerne Saulny, and Renee and Hillary Carrere. To mention a few of KH’s many friends.

MABEL

At the Audubon Tea Room, hundreds amassed after receiving the invitation designed by Chrissy Gregg Baynham that was inspired by India Stewart’s “Mother & Child” pin. Archbishop Gregory Aymond and the board of ACCESS Pregnancy and Referral Center extended the Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction invitation. Louise Jardell and Jean Rice, who also emceed the event, teamed to chair the brunch.

ACCESS board members Gayle Gaubert (with Jimmie), Shannon Simmons Wild (with Rodney), Ashley Wooderson Keller and Karen McGoey (with King) combined their creative forces for the pretty centerpieces made of “antiqued” bird cages housing Spanish moss and flowering plants in pinks and purples.

A meal of leaf spinach salad, chicken piccata, and crème caramel delighted the collective appetite.

Archbishop Aymond kicked off the brunch with a special blessing of the organization’s new mobile unit, MABEL, which stands for “Mothers Always Bring Extra Love.” Parked in front of the Audubon Tea Room, the 35-foot-long ACCESS “office on wheels” travels to various locations around town.

Additional features were the 100-plus silent auction attractions, including art, staycations, gift certificates and sports memorabilia; the award presentation by ACCESS board Co-presidents Lisa Baynham and Mary Fonseca to Jewell Bayhi of Mary, Queen of Peace (the Outstanding Pro-Life Parish of the Year); and the spirited music of New Orleans Banjos + 2.

Tapping a toe in the crowd of more than 250 were president and CEO of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans Sister Marjorie Hebert, director of CCANO Pro-Life Services Michelle Black with husband Doug, Rita Congemi, Tangie Stephens, Marge Garvey, Joseph and Kay Donnelly Rummage, Judy and Bob Martin, Pam and John Richard, Linda and Rod Abele, Kristen and Ben Clapper, and Bob and Maria Winn. Also, Sheila Spring, Jean Mitchell, Madge Schexnaydre, Joan Cuccia, Maria Villafranco, Beth Dillman, Diane Gannuch, Mary Ellis Hasseltine, Lois Cambre, Sharon and Mark Rodi, Lynn Schonberg, Hope Cambre, and Linda and Harold Heno.