If you've never checked out the playhouse raffled to raise money for Court Appointed Special Advocates, don't miss it this year. Just wow!

Casas for CASA

For 14 of the past 23 years, Faulk & Meek General Contractors have built the playhouse for the Casas for CASA fundraiser. David Faulk and John Meek are very proud of that, so they had a lot to smile about when this year's fundraiser officially kicked off with the CASA Fiesta at the Renaissance Hotel on July 16.

As guests sipped beverages donated by Baton Rouge Coca-Cola and Mockler Beverage Co. and noshed on Mexican cuisine dished up by Caliente Mexican Craving, they also got to shop the event's tempting silent auction. But the big ticket for the night was the chance to be among the first to purchase a $5 raffle ticket for a chance to win the Grand Victorian playhouse, designed by Lilliput Play Homes.

Be sure to get to the Mall of Louisiana to get your tickets and take a tour of the two-story retreat. These "playhouses" could put a lot of real houses to shame. They are always trés chic and come with all the bells and whistles to make any little girl feel like a fairy princess. If you win, you don't have to worry about how to get it home, either. Faulk & Meek will deliver the playhouse within 60 miles of the mall. The drawing takes place at 5 p.m. Aug. 13, and you don't have to be there to win. Tickets can be purchased from CASA volunteers on playhouse duty at the mall or at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave.

Spreading Sunshine

Even though it's called the Sunshine Foundation, Mother Nature had other ideas on July 14 when the group gathered for its annual membership soirée at the home of founder and author Shirley Porter and husband Jim. The highlight of the rainy evening was the formal introduction of local pediatric surgeon Dr. Faith Hansbrough as this year's recipient of the foundation's "You are Sunshine" Award, which will be presented at the annual Sunshine for Kids Gala on Nov. 14.

Membership in the foundation and proceeds from the gala underwrite the printing and distribution of Porter's book "You are Sunshine," which is given to every kindergarten student in the state with help from the Louisiana National Guard.

Since this was my last stop Friday night, I got to catch up with friends Diane Tate, Lois Saye, Becky Harris, Sue Rainer, Lee Lewis, Eunice McCurdey, Rob Delarosa and Mary Lynn Langlois. Jim Porter, Johnny Tate, Jack Harris and a majority of the other men in attendance were hanging out in the pool house, dubbed the man cave for this event. Who knows what all was going on out there? Let's just say, everyone had a fab time!

Hall of fame

The night began at LSU's Lod Cook Alumni Center, where the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation was hosting its 13th annual Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame banquet. Welcoming the honorees and their guests were museum Director Marsha Lindsey; foundation board officers Sheryl Ranatza, president, and Michael Wynne, secretary and banquet chairman; and Jimmy LeBlanc, secretary of the Department of Public Safety & Corrections.

This year's inductees included Dennis Bagnaris Sr., judge, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals; Leon Cannizzaro Jr., Orleans Parish district attorney; Jimmy Dimos, retired judge, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals; Marlin Gusman, Orleans Parish sheriff; Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, retired head of the Louisiana National Guard; Marc Morial, former New Orleans mayor; Newell Normand, Jefferson Parish sheriff; and Arnold Task, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Gelmluth Chassodim in Alexandria. Bob Smith, who became police chief of Forest in 1998 and Louisiana's oldest elected official at age 85, received the foundation's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.


In between these two events, I popped in at the Manship Theatre Gallery to check out the "Wanderlust" exhibition featuring photographs by Aaron Hogan of his trips to Cuba, Italy and Iceland as well as a screening of excerpts of wife Jency's movie's "Madeline's Oil," "With My Soul" and "The Verses." This couple is among the talented young professionals who make Baton Rouge home. I have to brag on Aaron because he worked with me as an intern in a prior job, and it's been fun to watch him grow as a photographer.

I didn't get to stay for the movies, but I did get to check out the amazing photographs, which were hung by Aaron's proud dad, Danny Hogan. Some of the ones of the ice in Iceland are simply breathtaking, so go by and take a look.

Elite debs

"Women's Elite Presents Their Garden of Elites" was the theme for the Women’s Elite Club's 45th Debutante Cotillion at the White Castle Community Center on June 17. Welcoming guests were co-chairwomen Connie Ben Hamilton and Nadine Carlin, and club President Sandra Jordan.

Kurisen Kerriaune DéShae Thomas, daughter of Josie and Michael Thomas, of Addis, reigned as cotillion queen. Honored were First Maid Ariel Achantay Mellion, of White Castle, daughter of Tory Carter and Michael Mellion; Second Maid Angel Treshon Elzy, of White Castle, daughter of Angela and Terry Elzy, and Third Maid Shannon Leigh Wooding, of New Orleans, daughter of Shirley and Shelia Wooding. Wooding was also honored with the Miss Congeniality Award.

Rounding out the debutante coterie were Jewel Shabrie Watley, of White Castle, daughter of Renée and Kevin Watley; Elana Kathryn Ricard, of Plaquemine, daughter of Kimberly Ricard and Jermaine Smith; and Warneisha Michelle Mellion, of Plaquemine, daughter of Wendy James and Warren Mellion.

Princesses were Meghann G. Williams, Carlace Alayna Thomas, Leigha Emani Russ, Marissa Kamyra Plant and Laila Simone Hampton; and pages were Nylah Henderson, McKenzie Pierce and Christian James. Serving as escorts for the debs were Stavious Thomas, son of Josie and Michael Thomas; Michael Wendell Delone, son of Chanté Delone; Daniel Edwards, son of Lisa Edwards and Daniel Jones; Edmond Collins, son of Alethia Collins; Charles Joseph Harris, son of Sharon Villia and Charles Harris; Eric Carlin Jr., son of Diane and Eric Carlin Sr. and recipient of the Mr. Esquire Award; and Jacoby Martin, son of Joyce and Elliot Martin. Ushers were Michael Johnson, Darian Pierce and Kyle Wilson.

Enchanted blossoms

Six young women were presented at the Louisiana Tri Parish Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta's cotillion, "Blossoms of the Enchanted Garden," June 10 at West Baton Rouge Tourist Center in Port Allen.

Queen Angelique Jack, daughter of Schandelita Allen and Avery Jack, reigned over the cotillion. She was escorted by Tyrin McCoy. Her fellow debs included Kennedy Whitfield, daughter of Shaurona Brown and Ronel Whitfield, escorted by Noah Howard; Lauryn Lathan, daughter of Daronda Lathan and Freddie Lathan, escorted by Sheldon Dyer Jr.; Joy'Da Spurlock, daughter of Vernita Benton-Spurlock and Henry Spurlock, escorted by Tré Gremillion; Marissa Ramsey, daughter of Debra Ramsey and Dr. Keith Ramsey, escorted by Zachary Gremillion; and Aliana Jackson, daughter of Cynthia Jackson and Alicary Jackson, escorted by Kevin Batiste Jr.

Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.