Distaff deserts

Under the chairing of Stephanie Osborne and Elizabeth “Betsy” Stoner, both Girl Scout Council board members, and with presenting sponsorship by Winn-Dixie, the Girl Scouts Louisiana East held the 2014 Women of Distinction Luncheon in the Audubon Tea Room. Sponsors and honorees enjoyed an al fresco reception and laughed with delight when a strolling stilt walker dressed as a tree came up to the guests and remained motionless until discovered. Guests then sat at tables bedecked with centerpieces of live plants, and the formalities ensued. The luncheon menu included a mixed greens salad, stuffed chicken breast and cheesecake.

After the Flag Ceremony with representatives from the Girl Scout Cadette troop 40787, New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Aymond gave the invocation. Master of ceremonies Brett Bauman and assistant Phoebe Coughlin, a Girl Scout alumna and Gold Award recipient, introduced the four honorees. Take a bow, Kiki Baker Barnes, athletic director at Dillard University; Gayle Benson, business professional, philanthropist and first lady of the Saints and Pelicans; Mionne LaShe Gooch, a nuclear field electrician’s first mate first class (SW) in the U.S. Navy; and Sally-Ann Roberts, anchor of WWL-TV’s morning show and founder of Each One Save One. Three were Girl Scouts.

Each laureate spoke, addressing her background, gratitude for the award and praise of the work of the Girl Scouts.

Emcee Bauman ended the program wearing the figurative hat of auctioneer, enticing everyone with Kendra Scott jewelry, a framed Terrance Osborne Jazz Fest poster (bought by Linda Law Clark), and a Pelicans basketball (bought by Genie May).

Notables included GSLE board Chairwoman Robyn Merrick, CEO Jackie Alexander, and former Women of Distinction Mary Jane Becker, Jackie Daniels, and the above Linda Law Clark and Genie May. Also, board members Maurice Sholas, Julie LeBlanc, Kelly McKinney with husband George, Veronica Osby and Kelder Summers-Jones.

“Thank you” resounded, addressed to all the guests, who departed having furthered the Girl Scouts mission and holding a gift, an Osborne print.

A ‘Blind’ time was had by all

WRBH Reading Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped and La Petite Grocery presented the second, now annual, “A Blind Taste” fundraising dinner at the Magazine Street restaurant with Peoples Health as the presenting sponsor. Particular gratitude targeted the Catholic Foundation through which WRBH Reading Radio was awarded a $50,000 grant. “We are incredibly thankful,” said Natalia Gonzalez, WRBH’s executive director.

The evening opened with a champagne patron party (for sponsors at the $1,000 level or higher) with music by acclaimed blind accordionist Norbert Slama and jazz guitarist Carl Keith.

The dinner opened with a speech by Rector Emeritus Hill Riddle of Trinity Episcopal Church, who has lost his sight in recent years due to glaucoma.

All 80 guests at the dinner wore blindfolds and aprons during the meal, experiencing some of the daily challenges of people with vision loss. Certainly everyone was appreciative of the five-course dinner curated by chef Justin Devillier with wine pairings by Purveyor of Fine Wines. Adding to the evening’s agenda was a live auction emceed by WRBH board members and “Blind Taste” Co-Chairmen Angela Hill, WWL Radio, and Charles Smith, a lawyer at McGlinchey Stafford.

Present — among others — were Susan Mulderick, Cheryl Miller, Lindsey Wands, Dr. Jayne Weiss, Dr. Dan Caplan, Lauren Campisi, Jeff Fernandez, Cynthia Pazos, the Rev. Mitch Smith, the above chef and wife Mia Devillier, Susan McDonald, WRBH board President Joy Braun and husband Andrew, Brent Barriere and wife Judy Barrasso, Cathy and Charles Glaser, and Kacie Sillings.

A take-home treat was the gift bag of macaroons. Thank you, Rachel Stickney of Pralines by Jean.

French Quarter thanks

French Quarter Citizens Inc. billed its 20th anniversary gala in Jax Brewery’s Riverview Room “A Night of Dining, Dancing and Delight.”

Throughout the course of the four-hour event, composed of a patron party and a gala, recognition resonated in commemoration of the two decades of the organization’s advocacy for residential quality of life in the Vieux Carre, historic preservation, and architectural integrity.

White, red and gold colors abounded as decorations, recalling the chromatics of the invitation.

Tables were draped in white linens with arrangements by Flowers by Cheryl Bostick of white hydrangeas, red carnations, and gold spindle twigs. Beautiful views of the Mississippi River thrilled every FQC attendee.

So did the excitement of the raffle — each ticket holder received a hand-painted wine glass with blinking white cubes; the food donations by a handful of generous restaurants; and The Twilight Band’s music making.

Leading off all this levity — and presented with crystal plaques — were honorees Dathel and John Georges for their contributions to the French Quarter, and honorary Chairwoman Mary Louise “Mary Lou” Christovich for her preservation leadership. Noted, too, were FQC President CoCo Garrett, gala Chairman Rodney Villarreal and partner Chuck Garber, FQC vice president Susan Guillot and Albin, Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey (who presented proclamations to the Georgeses and to Mary Lou), state Rep. Helena Moreno, Virginia Boulet and Alvin Albe Jr., partners Craig Guidry and Gary Wheat, Jan and Bob Carr, FQC Executive Director Carol Gniady, partners Rene Fransen and Eddie Bonin, Karen and Bobby Major, Ann and John Koerner, Sean Dixon, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, and District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro and Norma.

Sons of Saints

Son of a Saint hosted its third annual fundraiser at the Windsor Court Hotel, starting with a 6 p.m. reception and moving on to a 7 p.m. dinner The nonprofit organization was conceived by Bivian “Sonny” Lee III, founder and president of Son of a Saint, whose Saints-player father, Bivian, died at age 36 from a heart attack when Sonny was 3 years old. He never got to know his father.

Son of a Saint is dedicated to enhancing the lives of fatherless young men and to inspire youth mentorship in the Crescent City area. Each year, the organization brings in 10 new boys, between the ages of 10-13, for the program. Currently, 35 boys are sponsored.

Jones Walker LLP was the lead sponsor of the gala. Managing partner Bill Hines said that the law firm was “committed to making a difference in the lives of fatherless boys in our community” and that they were “proud to support Son of a Saint.” Additional support came from several important entities, including the Tom and Gayle Benson Charitable Foundation.

Features of the dinner included a talk by Dr. Andre Perry, founding dean of Urban Education at Davenport University; a four-course delicious dinner; live and silent auctions; a few surprises; and the scintillating sounds of The Roamin’ Jasmine.