What do you call a black-tie worthy fundraiser where you get to wear your “dressy” jeans and the guys can lose their ties? That would be the Sizzlin’ for SEALs Soirée benefiting the Navy SEAL Foundation held on Nov. 2.
For the second time, Luci and Wayne Stabiler marshaled the resources of their restaurant group (Little Village Restaurants, Stab's Steak & Seafood, Palermo Ristorante and Stab's Prime Steak & Seafood) to host this most special evening at Live Oak Arabians, where the show ring was transformed into an elegant setting.
Featured speaker for the evening was Karen Vaughn, Gold Star mom and author of the national bestseller “World Changer: A Mother’s Story.” Her son Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn was killed in action in 2011 when a helicopter carrying 30 Americans was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan.
“Are you living a life worthy of that kind of sacrifice?” she asked guests. “Everywhere I look, I see the reason my son gave his life … yes, America was worth it. This is one of the noblest causes you can support,” she said of the Navy SEAL Foundation to thunderous applause.
And those attending showed their support. Twice as many tickets at $250 each were sold this year, and two groups each put up $29,999 for the Navy SEAL T1G Experience in the live auction conducted by Brian Fourroux. The evening wrapped with dancing to the V-Tones.
Things were also sizzlin’ at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 17th annual Wine Opener, which took place Oct. 27 at Bin 77 Bistro & Wine. T-Ray the Violinist was cranked up as guests arrived to sip a variety of wines while sampling culinary offerings from Bin 77 and several other restaurants.
Chairwoman Dee Grant and her committee assembled an amazing array of items for the silent auction, and guests kept checking their bids as the evening progressed. It was a pleasure to meet Leo Verde’s mom, Felicidad, who is visiting from Miami.
For its 19th annual Torch Award Banquet, the Better Business Bureau had last year’s recipient literally pass the torch to this year’s honorees at the Oct. 30 event at the Renaissance.
Board Chairman Mike Benson, the night’s emcee, introduced the recipients of the Douglas Manship Sr. Torch Awards, which were presented by CEO Carmen Million. They were Brothers Construction Co. (1-10 employees), represented by Harry Wells; and Faulk & Winkler CPA, (11-99 employees), represented by Tommy LeJeune.
BBB board member Greg Accardo joined Benson and Million in presenting this year’s Youth Torch Award Scholarships to Mya Alford, Woodlawn High School; Clair Holder and Emily Reynaud, St. Joseph’s Academy; and Jaci Holiday, West Feliciana High School.
The person of the hour was speaker Mickey Smith Jr., of Lake Charles, who is a Grammy-winning middle school music teacher. He earned a standing ovation for his magnificent performance on the saxophone of “I Will Always Love You,” something the once-skinny kid with respiratory problems was never supposed to be able to do, and another following his powerful talk.
Smith told how he was about to quit teaching when he got a letter from a student, who said Smith's simple “I see you,” repeated until he got a smile when she showed up for class with her head down, had stopped her from taking her own life. And her letter of thanks, he said, saved him from quitting a job he truly loved and reignited his passion for teaching.
“People don’t care about how much you know until they know you care,” said Smith, whose mantra is “Let Us Be the Sound to Change the World.”
One of my favorite events leading up the holidays is Trianon’s fundraising luncheon, which has been going on for 45 years to benefit The Arc of Baton Rouge. This year, a large crowd gathered at Drusilla Place on Nov. 1 to bid on lots of tempting silent auction items, take a chance on the eight raffle items, enjoy lunch with friends and get some fashion inspiration from the style show. I joined some Trianon members to model looks from Soft Surroundings styled by store manager William Roy. Keeping things moving along and providing a bit of comic relief was emcee Cajun humorist Kent Gonsoulin.
A glorious fall day awaited the Friends of French Studies at their annual Fête Champêtre on Nov. 3 at Magnolia Mound Plantation. As guests mingled before lunch, Corey Porche and his three-piece Cajun ensemble played, then Friends President Michael Vincent welcomed everyone. Also addressing the crowd in French was Adelaide Russo, chairwoman of LSU French Studies. Some of those attending included Corey’s wife, Danielle Honeycutt Porche, Brandon Parlange, Lillie Petit Gallagher, John Jackson, Warren Fraser and Mary Pollard.
Red Shoes anniversary
Also on Nov. 3, The Red Shoes celebrated 20 years. Founded by Roberta Guillory, the Government Street enclave provides a supportive and inclusive community offering women opportunities for spiritual enrichment and personal growth through book and film studies, weekend retreats and workshops.
At Sunday’s celebration, attendees heard from Guillory on how it all began. Several women also shared their stories on how The Red Shoes impacted their lives.