With National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 15, it was rather fitting that several organizations took the opportunity to celebrate those who go above and beyond in our community. It made for a jam-packed week of events before the Thanksgiving holiday. For more photos, visit theadvocate.com.
Eye Bank anniversary
The Baton Rouge Regional Eye Bank celebrated 40 years of giving the gift of sight at an anniversary gala at the City Club Nov. 17. The club was a sea of multiple shades of red in honor of the Eye Bank's ruby anniversary, which also honored the Shirley and Price LeBlanc family for their many years of support.
To raise additional funds, the event featured a jewelry pull, compliments of Kendra Scott, and an enticing raffle. Taking home the grand prize of $5,000 was Helen Melancon, who was sitting right beside me and squealed with delight when she realized what she'd won. Trudy Langlois won the duck hunt donated by Debbie and Jeff Kleinpeter. Sister Martha Ann Abshire held the winning ticket for the ruby and diamond bracelet donated by Patton's Jewelry. She was too cute strutting around the room and showing it off. Sister plans to donate the bracelet to next year's "Fête des Fidèles," a benefit for Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University.
Emcee for the gala, which was co-chaired by Ginger Miller and Betty Schwartzberg, was WAFB's Diane Deaton. Committee members included Judy Burk, Lee Caplan, Marlene Colter, Vivian Frey, Yvonne Kelleher, Dusty Manson, Claudia McCall, LaMarylis Newman, Margaret Rom, Reita Reiser, Julia Wallace and Executive Director Jamie Collier.
Capital Chefs' Showcase
August's historic flood may have forced Cancer Services to reschedule its annual Capital Chefs' Showcase but that didn't put a damper on this historically fab celebration. Relocated to the Crowne Plaza, the Nov. 16 event had an intimate feel. One side of the main lobby housed the silent auction and a couple of bars — a good incentive for folks to wander over from the main ballroom where this year's restaurants and caterers were dishing out some absolutely scrumptious offerings.
For the 11th year, LSU Baseball coach Paul Mainieri and wife Karen served as honorary co-chairmen of the showcase. Coach and foodie Jay Ducote played a huge role in helping raise more than $20,000 via a live auction conducted by Brian Fourroux. Mainieri sweetened the pot by offering four of his personal tickets to the winner of the "Ultimate LSU Baseball Fan Experience" package, which went for $6,000. Not to be outdone by the coach, Ducote doubled down on his "Bite & Booze Dinner Experience" to raise an additional $6,000.
Festivities also included a gift card pull, wine pull and Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry shopping spree raffle.
Participating restaurants and caterers included Mary R. Aycock, Baton Rouge General, Beausoleil Restaurant, Bergeron's City Market, Bland Restaurant & Wine Bar, Café Americain, Caliente Mexican Craving, Carrabba's Italian Grill, DéChalets Catering, Drusilla Seafood Restaurant/Drusilla Place Catering, chef Sonny Creel, Galatoire's Bistro, Juban's Restaurant, Kalurah Street Grill, Mansurs on the Boulevard, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Portobello's Grill, Red Stick Spice Co., Superior Grill, Sweet + Savory Co., Culinary Experience, Tio Jave's Fresh-Mex Bar & Grill, Unique Cuisine Catering, Wanda & Phil Calkins Catering, Wildtree and Zea Rotisserie & Grill.
En route to Chefs' Showcase, I stopped by the home of Drs. Elise and Jimmy Lalonde for a quick party pic. They were hosting an intimate get-together for their fellow physicians to educate them and seek support for Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital. Co-hosts were Dr. Ryan and Maradith Boone, Dr. Brad and Ashley Culotta and Dr. Chambliss and Rebecca Harrod.
Having been to a party at the Lalondes, I know guests had an amazing time.
The night before had us partying at Chef John Folse's White Oak Plantation for the Sunshine Foundation's annual Sunshine for Kids Gala. This year's event honored veteran educators Gladys and Kelly Runnels. They thanked Runnels School alum Maggie Wrenn for donating her "Angel & Child" print as a special live auction item benefiting the school's recovery from the flood.
Loren Kleinpeter stepped in for long-time volunteer Scott Angelle to conduct the night's live auction, and he did pretty good. Guests opened their wallets and purses to raise more than $18,000 to assist the foundation in printing and distributing its "You Are Sunshine" book to all kindergarten students throughout the state.
Founder and "You Are Sunshine" author Shirley Porter shared how one local elementary school lost over 11,000 books in the recent flood. The lone book to survive? You guessed it — "You Are Sunshine."
Serving on this year's committee were Stephanie Arceneaux, Vicki Brand, Kay Collier, Connie DeLeo, Lisa Freeman, Charlene Harp, Becky Harris, Leslie Kilpatrick, Mary Lynn Langlois, Lee Trowbridge Lewis, Kay Mosher, Sue Rainer, Sheri Robinson, Lois Saye, Susan Saye, Rachel Sayes, Donnie Shields, Diane Tate, Jeanne Triche, Matthew Wallace, Chris Weilenman and Executive Director Kandace Walls.
Earlier that day, the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals teamed up with the Planned Giving Council of Greater Baton Rouge to host their annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon. The Renaissance Hotel ballroom was packed with supporters of this year's honorees. They included Chuck Schwing, Outstanding Philanthropist, nominated by the LSU Museum of Art; Dr. Tom Meek Jr., Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser, and Carter Stone, Outstanding Professional Fundraiser, both nominated by Mary Bird Perkins — Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center; the Burden Foundation, Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation, and LSU Rural Life Museum Junior Docents, Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, both nominated by LSU Rural Life Museum; LSU Greek Life, Outstanding Philanthropic Service Organization, nominated by the LSU Division of Student Affairs; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 995, Outstanding Leadership in Corporate Philanthropy, nominated by the Baton Rouge General Foundation.
Special Board of Directors awards went to the Cajun Navy for its work during this past summer's horrific flood and the late Mary Frey Eaton, who was also recognized as a Leave a Legacy honoree for her donation to the LSU Alumni Association.
Other Leave a Legacy honorees included Sue and Donald Crow, honored by the LSU Foundation and LSU School of Veterinary Medicine; Vincent Miranda Sr. and Barbara and Donald Simoneaux, all honored by the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge; Betty and Harvey Schwartzberg, honored by the LSU Foundation; and the late Anne Jane and Harold Dyson, honored by Alzheimer's Services.
AFP Vice President Judith Roberson was luncheon chairwoman. Assisting were committee members Charlene Montelaro, Tammy Abshire, Melissa Curtis, Bernard Dumond, Dee Harvill, Stacey Howell, Kristy Mayes and Harriett Pooler.
Welcome to Pam’s Party Calendar, a comprehensive listing of all the fundraisers, galas, Mard…
The week started off at a lovely dinner at the Marriott honoring Marvin Borgmeyer as the recipient of the 75th annual Golden Deeds Award, which is sponsored by the InterCivic Council of Baton Rouge and The Advocate. Featured speaker for the evening was Gov. John Bel Edwards, who said that the longevity of the Golden Deeds "speaks volumes" about the people of Baton Rouge.
"I'm so proud of the people of Louisiana and, in particular, Baton Rouge," said Edwards. "You all put your best foot forward (during this past summer's shootings and flood) … What we saw was people not waiting but coming out and asking, 'What can I do to help?' Just like the water didn't discriminate, neither did those helping, and that's what Marvin has been doing for many years."
In accepting the award from Advocate Publisher Dan Shea, Borgmeyer acknowledged those who don't just give of their money but their time. "That's what's so special about Baton Rouge," he added.
He made a plea to attendees to work on the areas of race relations and education. "We have a way to go," said Borgmeyer. "A lot of groups are working on those issues and we're off to a great start, but we need to continue."
He also asked everyone to continue to support local nonprofits trying to recover from the flood. "I hope you don't forget them," said Borgmeyer. "They need our financial support, including churches."
In addition to his award, the council made a donation in Borgmeyer's name to Metanoia Manor, a recovery home in Baton Rouge for adolescents who are victims of human trafficking.
Gris Gris royalty
The week of party hopping wrapped up Nov. 18 at a party fêteing Krewe of Artemis royals Melanie Uzee and Dr. Jimmy Lalonde. It was hosted by Uzee's fellow Gris Gris Girls float members at the home of Karen and De Holden. Mother Nature so cooperated with the festivities, making the indoor/outdoor experience delightful.
The night proved a blast from my past, as well. Some 20 years ago, I did a story on De's sister, Chanler Holden Mittendorf's house, which was located next door. When I asked Karen if they were related, she quickly answered yes and pulled out the magazine featuring Chanler on the cover, leading to a fun reunion between the three of us.