The cool front that blew in mid-week made for absolutely gorgeous weather the next evening for a series of events, including one that made it’s debut.

‘Sips & Suds’

The parking lot of neighboring Westdale Heights Magnet Academy was full by the time I arrived for the McMains Children’s Development Center’s inaugural “Sips & Suds” Champagne and Beer Stroll on May 15. Presented by the Albemarle Foundation, the fundraiser attracted a large, diverse crowd who came out to support the center, which for 60 years has been providing life-changing therapies for children with cerebral palsy, developmental delays and learning disabilities.

Special guests were members of the Frank McMains family. The late Dr. McMains served as medical director of the facility for more than 30 years, and you just know he was smiling with pride up in heaven.

Board member John Spain led the several hundred strollers in a commemorative toast before parent Sonia Girod shared her story of how having the services of McMains positively impacts her family. Then auctioneer Brian Fourroux worked his magic to help raise additional funds in the live auction.

Aside from the obvious, Sips & Suds featured some delish gourmet food from local restaurants and caterers, a jewelry pull, a wine pull and the music of Baton Rouge singer/songwriter David St. Romain, who also handled emcee duties.

Hope for Hemophilia

Before strolling, I was downtown at the Old State Capitol where the Hope for Hemophilia was hosting its fifth annual Hope Gala. This year’s event honored Dr. Cindy Leissinger, of Tulane University School of Medicine. She led an international research team, along with Dr. Alessandro Gringeri from the University of Milan, that confirmed a drug, Feiba, commonly used to treat bleeding in people with a type of severe hemophilia, can also be used to prevent such events from happening in the first place. The study was published in the Nov. 3, 2011, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

David James, whose son Jonathan has hemophilia and serves as executive director of Hope for Hemophilia, said numerous members of the hemophilia community — from patients to medical colleagues — were coming from all over to honor Leissinger, who also serves as director of the Louisiana Comprehensive Hemophilia Center and as medical director of the Louisiana Center for Bleeding & Clotting Disorder.

Museum friends

My party hopping began with the Friends of the LSU Textile & Costume Museum, who were hosting a wine and cheese reception at Mignon Faget’s Towne Center store. For the second year, Faget graciously agreed to donate a portion of all sales made during the event to the organization, which was also collecting clothing for its annual Friends Closet sale on Nov. 15. An added bonus was that Mignon was there in person, so she got to personally tell us the story of how she turned her late physician father’s doctor’s office cabinets into these fabulous jewelry display cases.

Liz Walker turned the tables when she showed up with a vintage handmade, lace dress given to her by a Thibod aux neighbor back in the late ’60s and told her fascinating story. Friends members Dusty Manson and Jeanne Triche had both invited Liz to donate the dress to the museum, and Pam Vinci, who serves as curator of the museum, was so excited when she showed up with not only dress but also with a photo of Liz wearing it at a Daughters of the American Revolution tea.

French Picnic

The day before, Jane Sherman rolled out the welcome mat to her home for this year’s French Picnic introducing the Charity Ball Association debutante coterie to its membership. This year’s group includes the daughters and granddaughters of some friends, so I’m really looking forward to Le Bal de Noêl Dec. 27 and seeing the girls in their white dresses.

Standing in the receiving line were debs Riley Elizabeth Donohue, daughter of Susan and James Donohue; Caroline Grace Gikas, daughter of Carol and Kenneth Gikas; Mimi Marilyn Guercio, daughter of Ann and Robert Guercio; Catherine Hayden Queyrouze James, daughter of Mia and Jeffrey James, and Curt Queyrouze, of Salt Lake City, Utah; Lauren Elizabeth LeBlanc, daughter of Jean Ann and Jules Burton LeBlanc IV; Riley Shannon McKernan, daughter of Shannon and Gordon McKernan; Mary Alexandra Montes de Oca, daughter of Mary and Fermin Montes de Oca IV; Caroline Kalil Morgan, daughter of Remi and Jeffrey Jenkins and the late Douglas Morgan; Sarah Anne Nelson, daughter of Penny and Dr. Scott Nelson; Nicole Pamela Newton, daughter of Patty and Carl Newton; Marit Erickson Schroeder, daughter of Denise and Eric Schroeder; Lauren Elizabeth Talbert, daughter of Susan and Kyle Talbert; Caroline Elizabeth Whitley, daughter of Elizabeth and Dr. John Whitley; Emilie Harang Winder, daughter of Carolyn and Dr. Carey Winder; Hannah Louise and Riley Elizabeth Womack, daughters of Ellen and Milton Womack Jr.

Carol Ragan and Jan King were in charge of the picnic. Welcoming guests with the hostess was association President Andrea McKey.

Volunteer luncheon

The week got underway at the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon hosted by Mary Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center at the Baton Rouge Country Club May 13. “You are literally the heart and soul of Mary Bird Perkins,” said CEO Todd Stevens as he welcomed the volunteers.

That sentiment was echoed by medical director Dr. Tom Meek who added, “We don’t treat cancer; we treat individuals with cancer, and you’re our hands-on volunteers.”

Special recognition went to 25-year volunteer Neila Eckler; 10-year volunteers Claudia Hebert, Evelyn Short and Jean Wilcox; five-year volunteers Fay Babin, Robert Evans and Mary Morton; office volunteer Trudy LeBouef; Jack Stokeld, 350 hours; Barbara Barriner, 277 hours; and Herman Raby, 206 hours; and group volunteers Bethany Church and Healing Place, 1,000-plus hours.

But it was long-time volunteer Kay Deumite who was luncheon’s star. She was this year’s recipient of the coveted Anna B. Lipsey Memorial Service Award. The cherry on top was that friends S usan and Richard Lipsey, for whose mother the award is named, presented it. Apparently there’s a running a joke between Kay and Susan as to how Kay became a patient volunteer. Susan says it was just Kay’s nature to want to give back; Kay says Susan recruited her. Regardless, Mary Bird is fortunate to have this gracious lady among its volunteer corps.

“Ask any volunteer here today and they’ll tell you we get back a whole lot more than we could ever give,” Kay said in accepting her award. “So, if anyone knows someone who wants to volunteer, tell them to come join us.”

YMCA ‘stars’

May, which is National Volunteer Month, rolled on later that evening with the recognition of the Greater Baton Rouge area’s dedicated volunteers at the YMCA of the Capital Area’s dinner meeting at the Renaissance Hotel.

Metro board Chairwoman Gwen Hamilton and Y CEO Bob Jacobs presented awards to David Vincent and John Godbee, the debut Edward D. Grant Volunteerism Award for their hundreds of hours of service and their dedication to the Y; Colette Dean and Robert Greig, Myron Falk Fundraising Award for their efforts in raising money for the YMCA Annual Support Campaign; Eugene St. Martin, Red Heart Award for maintaining the tennis courts at the YMCA Lamar Tennis Center and teaching children and adults to play tennis for 35 years; John Engquist, Patrick Campesi and Michael Campesi with Americana Development, Red Triangle Award, the Y’s highest honor, for their investment of more than $2 million dollars to see the Zachary YMCA come to fruition.

Gary Sligar was honored as the 2014 recipient of the Y’s Beyond the Green Award. It was presented by last year’s honoree, Walter Monsour.

Honored as “star” volunteers from the 10 locations were Andrew Muhl, A.C. Lewis YMCA; Francis Nezianya, Americana YMCA; Randy Fontenot, Baranco-Clark YMCA; Mike Walker, C.B. Pennington Jr. YMCA; George Town, Charles W. Lamar Jr. YMCA; Will Kleinpeter, Dow Westside YMCA; Larry Galloway, ExxonMobil YMCA; Mark Goodson, Metro YMCA; Machaela Golden, Paula G. Manship YMCA; and Harvey Schwartzberg, Southside YMCA.

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