This past week was all about CASA and kids, United Way and the community and a first — an arts summit.

CASA Fiesta!

The ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel was packed on the evening of July 29 for the kickoff of the 24th annual Casas for CASA playhouse raffle, benefiting Court Appointed Special Advocates. This event always a fabulous silent auction and this year didn’t disappoint.

As the several hundred guests hunted for the best finds to bid on, they sipped on libations from Paul Bologna Fine Wines and Mockler Beverage Co., as well as lighter offerings from Baton Rouge Coca-Cola. As you know, shopping makes a girl hungry, so there were lots of goodies to nibble on thanks to Superior Grill.

Mary Jane Dillenberger and Jean Anne Songy served as co-chairwomen. Assisting were committee members Jan Cassidy, Mendy Richard, Frances Lewis, Andy McCall, Jessica Perret, Steven Romero, Francelle Theriot, Robin Toups and Cynthia Wade.

Fiesta attendees got first dibs on the $5 raffle tickets for the Magnolia Estate playhouse, now on display at the Mall of Louisiana. You can get yours when you go check out the Lilliput Play Homes design at the mall or online at The winning ticket will be drawn at 5 p.m. Aug. 19. Faulk & Meek General Constructors will deliver it to the winner within 30 miles of the Mall of Louisiana.

‘United We Win’

“United We Fight, United We Win!” That’s the new mantra at Capital Area United Way, which held its annual luncheon meeting July 26 at the L’Auberge Event Center. A who’s who of the community filled the room for the event, which includes the handing out of several prestigious awards and the election of leaders for the new fiscal year.

“Our future is bright,” said CEO George Bell. “But without you, our community couldn’t win. ‘United We Fight, United We Win!’ is not just a catch phrase.”

After announcing this year’s $7.5 million goal, Bell asked everyone to take a moment to remember the late Dudley Coates. “He always wanted to make a community better than he found it.”

Bell was then joined by outgoing board Chairman Randy Young in handing out this year’s awards. Winners were Louisiana HealthCare Connections, Service of Excellence Award; Michelle Hardy, Turner Industries, Employee Campaign Chair Award; WAFB-TV, Outstanding Media Award; Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Community Impact Award; and Brandon Stoute, Myron Falk Service Award, which is voted on and given by CAUW to a staff member.

Young presided over the formal meeting portion of the event. He turned over the gavel to successor Dr. Stewart Gordon, whose first order of business was to present Young with this year’s Outstanding Board Member Award.

Tapped to serve alongside Gordon were Chairman-elect Robert Schneckenburger; Secretary and Community Impact Chairwoman-elect Amanda Stout, McGlinchey Stafford; Treasurer and Finance Committee Chairman Joseph Britt, Westlake Chemical; Resource Development Chairman Aaron Stanford, Morgan Stanley; Resource Development Chairwoman-elect Hardy, Turner Industries; Community Impact Chairwoman Stacey Gautreau, Dow Chemical Co.; Communications and Marketing Chairman Jolen Stein, BASF; and Governance Committee Chairman Young, Kean Miller.

Newly elected board members include Kelly Bienn, Baton Rouge Area Chamber; Gaines Foster, LSU; Kelli Joseph, St. Helena Parish School District; and Larissa Littleton-Steib, Baton Rouge Community College.

Arts Summit

Earlier in the week, it was all about the arts as the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge opened an Arts Summit on July 24 at the Capitol Park Museum. Featured speakers and guests of honor at the opening reception were Victor Goines, a saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and educator who is also a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Wynton Marsalis Septet; and Clare Cook, choreographer, teacher and artistic director of the Basin Dance Collective.

Aside from the honorees, I enjoyed visiting with Arts Council Executive Director Renée Chatelain, board Chairman Randy Roussel, board member Todd Sterling, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, LSU Museum of Art staffers Daniel Stetson and Nedra Hains, Fairleigh Cook with Preserve Louisiana, federal Judge Brian Jackson and wife Melanie, Visit Baton Rouge CEO Paul Arrigo, and Garland Goodwin Wilson and LeeAnn Kozan with Of Moving Colors.

Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.