Home Beautiful

“We were so fortunate with the weather,” commented Melanie Loomis during the recent cocktail party she and husband Mickey, general manager of the New Orleans Saints, hosted for Shaun Smith, the House Beautiful Magazine 2015 Next Wave Designer featured in the May issue. He was described as having “an eye for creating clean-lined, contemporary rooms accented with antiques, many from his own Magazine Street shop.”

Shaun was the designer chosen by the Loomises to transform their Metairie home. Their sitting room is featured in the magazine as a “cozy and sophisticated room with luxe textures and a tone-on-tone pattern.” During the course of the mostly al fresco party, guests wandered about the home, admiring the new, chic look. “Amazing,” was heard over and over. Host Mickey Loomis gave a one-on-one tour to Saints head coach Sean Payton, whose just-completed home design was also done by Smith.

Among the attendees were Jean Lopeo, whose titles include co-owner Shaun Smith Home Inc.; Betsey Nixon Hazard, senior designer of Shaun Smith Home Inc.; Saints and Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha and spouse Jennifer; Skylene Montgomery with Sean Payton; Francoise Lopeo, Jean’s mother; Chris Palermo and Tasha; Donna and Walker Baus, parents of 2014-15 debutante Ella; Ryan Wentworth; Joey Walker; Jim Mounger; and white linen-suited Ricky Lemann, who’d just been at a wedding.

Those with a keen eye — that was just about everyone present! — noticed the stripe of the red and white outdoor pillows that established a chromatic palette. Those two colors (which appeared on the cover of the May House Beautiful) were repeated in the party’s flowers — hydrangeas, and red and yellow tulips — by Dunn and Sonnier.

Mingling, too, and enjoying the passed-food catering, were Hank Allen, Christopher and Stephanie Ridgeway, Robert and Laura Kennedy, Marcie Noah, Vivian Palmisano, Roland and Jessica Waguespack, Shawn and Marie Gibbs, Diem and Trinh Do, Jim Ashby, Kathy Slater, Taylor Morgan and Amanda Talley, A, J. and Shirley Gibbs, and Penny Francis. Dozens more, as well, who relished the Loomis hospitality and, congratulated honoree Shaun.

Habitat Hobnobbers

Another beautiful home, one that was completed fairly recently, is that of Paul and Donna Flower. They have opened it for good causes since its completion, and, on a recent Sunday evening (and the day after the Loomis socializing), added another round of generous hospitality. This was for New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity and its Build-A-Thon patron party. The hosting duties were shared by son/NOAHH board member Ken Flower and his wife, Lauren Hotard.

Background about Build-A-Thon coincides with the impending 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and NOAHH’s project of building 10 houses in 10 days on America Street in New Orleans East, an area still struggling to rebuild since 2005. The effort to “Rebuild America” drew more than 500 Americorps volunteers to the Crescent City. Build-A-Thon lasted May 19-29 and the houses were dedicated on May 30. At that time, 10 families took the keys to their new homes.Since 2005, among its other extensive work, NOAHH has built more than 440 new homes.

In the Flower home, the floral interest came from Donna’s personal orchid collection, which drew a slew of compliments. The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Renaissance Hotels, and the New OrleansMarriott purveyed. Teamed to cook were chefs Spencer Harden, Chad Roldan, Thorston Leighty, and Thierry Connault.

Headliners at this patron gathering were NOAHH board Chairwoman Katie Crosby and husband Howell, who extended hosting hands months ago for Habitat at their home; NOAHH executive director Jim Pate; and hotel general managers Joe Blanchek (Marriott Convention Center) and Ted Selogie (JW Marriott). Also, Fidelity Bank President and CEO Alton McRee, special guest retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, architect Dodie Smith, Cleland Powell, chef/Taste Buds Management owner Greg Reggio, and three generations of Raults. NOAHH board member Dann Cahoon (of the Rault Resources Group) was there with spouse Kristen; his mother, Evelyn Wolford; and grandmother Bonnie (Mrs. Joe) Rault.

Music added the finishing touches to the lovely evening, which was smiled upon by Mother Nature. Jazz vocalist Betty Shirley & Friends entertained along with guest saxophone soloist Dominic Grillo. Both Betty and Dominic are Habitat partner families and homeowners. Dominic’s home is one of the Build-A-Thon houses.


Youth Empowerment Project. The name says it all, and the recent get-together, the luncheon hosted by YEP’s board of directors on the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s GiveNOLA Day, made activism the further focus. Members of the community assembled at YEP’s Youth Center of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard to lunch and learn.

At the event, attendees turned an attentive ear to YEB board President Carosl Asher, as well as to members of the organization’s senior staff and two young people involved in YEP’s programming. The latter twosome, Youth Ambassadors, spoke about their experiences with YEP and how it benefited their lives.

All the while, guests enjoyed mixed greens salad and delicious sandwiches (especially the Sonoma chicken salad on a croissant). They were packaged as box lunches. Round tables of eight were set up and centered with bouquets of yellow and white daisies and cards with photos of YEP youths with instructions on how to support them on the GiveNOLA Day. The collective gaze also turned to the vibrantly colored mural painted by Lionel Milton with the names of donors to the Youth Center.

In addition to President Carol Asher, attendees included board members Chris LeBato, Gizelle Johnson-Banks and Currita Waddy, respective vice president, treasurer and secretary, along with a threesome of chums in Marion “Manny” Bright, Susan Johnson and Susu Kearney. Along with husband Mike Kearney, Susu has given time talent and financial support to YEP (as have many others who care). Further luncheon notables were Jill Sylvain, Willie Zanders, Felton Walter, Scot Craig, Beau Babst, and, from YEP, executive director/co-founder Melissa Sawyer, Marc Roberson, and Eliza Brinkmeyer. To name a few.

After lunch, guests crossed Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard to tour YEP’s Trafigura Work & Learn Center, which provides job training services to underserviced youths from 16-21. Young people were attentively huddled over computers, learning computer coding skills (with possible — and hopeful — careers in software development).

The GiveNOLA Day had countless individuals giving to a myriad of causes in the New Orleans area. Thanks to generous donations from 161 people around the country, YEP raised $48,487. Financial empowerment!