At the East St. Tammany’s Habitat for Humanity’s recent Sip & See gathering, the public was given a glimpse of beautiful and interesting works that have been donated for the cause of building new homes for people who not only desire a home but are also working to be part of the American dream.

Each year, ESTHFH holds a gala, Home is Where the Art Is, which is a wonderful party and an auction to help raise money to build more homes. The seventh annual gala event “Home is Where the Art is” auction is on Friday, Nov. 21, 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at the Northshore Harbor Center, 100 Harbor Center Blvd. in Slidell.

The rewards will be great for those who bid on the artworks generously donated by local artists and for those who will benefit from the building of the simple, affordable homes.

Among the items for the Sip & See at the ESTHFH offices were beautiful hand beaded jewelry pieces donated by members of the Slidell Bead Society, beautiful wall hanging metal art including a fleur de lis crawfish and shrimp combination by Joel Geiger, brilliantly visualized abstract art by Darlene Langendonk, prints by Terrance Osborne, a pottery vase by Kelly Landrum Hammell, a huge outdoor hanging dragonfly made of fan blades and a bed post created by Michelle Kavanaugh as well as a three night getaway stay donated by Brent and Kathy Laliberte and Bayou Title, Inc.

That’s not all that was on display to entice everyone to attend Home Is Where the Art Is. Among many other works, there were also furniture pieces such as the gorgeous painted glass top table by artist Carol Hallock. Another artist, Tami Ellis Curtis, offers a brilliantly colorful painting “Little Rosie” for auction. Seven years ago after Hurricane Katrina, it was Curtis’s idea to donate a painting to ESTHFH for auction to show the hope and determination of area residents. She said she was inspired by “Jeremiah 29:11 regarding God’s plans for our hope and our future.”

With all of this beautiful work available, there will still be a shining star that will dazzle everyone. Renowned artist Lori Gomez created a bit of a miracle for auction. Last year she restored and painted a piano with the theme of musical legend that caused a stir at auction for the Habitat chapter.

This year, she found herself restoring a piano that has become a national cause célèbre.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this piano. Initially, I thought it was in such bad shape that I felt it needed to go to the dump,” she said.

“Last year I spent about two weeks painting a piano for auction,” but six weeks into this one, she even had to have some of the ivory keys replaced.

“I have learned more than I ever expected to know about the fascinating piano,” she said.

But Gomez dug in her heels to restore the antique and recruited the help of her husband Mike to repair the damaged wood and the assistance of her musician friend Barney Floyd to work on the inner mechanism and tuning. She immediately chose the Beatles as a theme for the piano, but she had never envisioned getting the two remaining Beatles to sign it.

Another artist who supports the Habitat cause, Kim Bergeron, made a phone call to Ringo Starr’s people and to Sir Paul McCartney’s people, and with hard work and prayers, the miracle grew — both Beatles agreed to sign it.

The challenge was to transport the piano to the iconic music stars. Debbie Crouch, CEO for ESTHFH, describes the moments that she first met Ringo and then Sir Paul as making her feel like a star struck 12-years-old again. “My knees were actually shaking at each meeting, but they were both kind and personable and happy to help our cause.”

In gratitude, Lori gave each of them one of her Mardi Gras Indian bowling pins. “I know it doesn’t seem like much compared to what they offered to ESTHFH, but it was something indicative of our world for them to enjoy in theirs. Meeting them was a blessing that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Offering personal gifts and talents is a sign that generosity, unselfishness and care about our fellow man still exists. This extends from those like Debbie Crouch, who works hard for the cause every day with her staff, to all the compassionate artists like Lori Gomez who donate their talents and to those who attend Home Is Where the Heart Is and bid on some of the beautiful pieces.

Tickets are $50 per person or $75 per couple and are available at the ESTHFH office on 747 Old Spanish Trail or call (985) 639-0656.

Kathleen DesHotel writes about the cultural arts in St. Tammany. To reach her, email