Let the site fit the night! And so it was when Project Lazarus, “Living in the Positive,” presented its annual Guardian Angel Award Gala. With the “wing as the thing,” guests headed to the Lakefront Airport and, within, to Messina’s at the Terminal. Everyone relished the beautiful, newly renovated venue and its art deco ambiance. Avita Pharmacy was the top sponsor, the Emerald one.
During the cocktail hour in the Walnut Room overlooking the runway, attendees enjoyed the music by Tanya and Dorise, “famous street musicians on Royal Street,” as well as the vacation, wellness and restaurant packages of the silent auction. The premier ones were a two-night stay at the new Ace Hotel on Carondelet Street with dinner at Sylvain in the Vieux Carre, and a George Dureau original photograph. In the subsequent live auction, the bids were quick for a Dureau charcoal sketch and seven other choice items, such as a package combining three nights at Soniat House, dinner at Bayona and two 2016-17 season subscriptions to Southern Rep Theatre.
Everyone was regaled with the taste treats of the menu: a baby greens salad, seared duck breast, and white chocolate cheesecake. The Very Rev. Paul Desrosiers, Project Lazarus co-founder, gave the invocation.
Event hosts Warren Backer Jr. and Eric Paulsen of WWL-TV launched the formalities with a welcome and introduction. Additional program principals were board Chairwoman Laura Fine, honorary Co-Chairmen Waguespack (with Jeff Morgan) and Marty McKeown, the Most Rev. Roger Jason Morin, Archbishop of New Orleans the Most Rev. Gregory M. Aymond, and Steve Rivera, executive director of Project Lazarus, which “helps heal and empower people living with HIV/AIDS by focusing on wellness, providing housing and offering important support services.”
Each year, a major highlight is the presentation of awards. Take a bow, Guardian Angel recipient and exemplary volunteer David Cortez, who received his award from Warren Backer Jr., his partner; and Anne Milling, the Pawell-Desrosiers Award recipient, named for the founders and PL’s highest honor. Biloxi Bishop Morin presented it to her. Since that award’s inception, there have been only four recipients.
Among the many – the event gathered 250 PL supporters – were King Milling with honoree Anne, Archbishop Emeritus Alfred Hughes, David Columbani with the above Laura Fine, Michael Milling (Caroline had a work conflict), Bethany Paulsen with Eric, Dwain Gannard, and 2012 Guardian Angel awardees Sister Anthony Barczykowski, CD, and Henry Lambert and Carey Bond. Several others, above and below, have been laureates.
Noted, too, were Jerry Purcell, Frances and Rodney Smith, Jim Perrier and Jim Ashbee, the Very Rev. Philip Landry, Dustin Woehrmann and Jeff Hebert, Ryan Wentworth, David Lumpkin, John Smestad Jr. and spouse Laura, and Cynthia Molyneux, who figured on the gala committee along with Jonas Dominique, Tyler Douglas, past board Chairman Bruce Gallassero, Lawrence Gobble, Lily Hannigan, Marguerite Moisio, Quinton Rasberry, and the above Laura Fine and Steve Rivera.
In 1998 Anne Milling, along with Patrick Dunne, was limelighted as a Guardian Angel. As the 2016 Pawell-Desrosier Award recipient, she was recognized within the status of an agency or individual “without whom Project Lazarus might possibly not exist.”
Casting a Gala
La Chinoiserie Ballroom of the Windsor Court Hotel was the staging area for cocktails, silent and live auctions, a formal dinner, and performances by Fleur de Tease (a flapper dance), Clint Johnson, Janet Shea, Natalie Jones, and a few cast members from “Colossal,” the most recent production of Southern Rep Theatre, the gala’s presenter and beneficiary. Singer/actress Leslie Castay hosted and pianist Harry Mayronne Jr. played numbers from some of SR’s favorite shows.
Arrangements of lavender roses and white hydrangeas by Deborah M. Phillips were admired as the 200 or so guests sat for a dinner of organic greens, filet mignon, and Bananas Foster bread pudding.
The awards were the just deserts for Samantha Beaulieu (Young Guard), Robert Rooth (Excellence in Leadership) and joined by wife Carroll, and the University of New Orleans Department of Film and Theatre (Supporter of the Year). The latter was accepted by department Chairman David Hoover, attending with C. Scott Hutcheson and UNO representatives Deb Daniel and Dr. Stacy Nicklow.
Susan Sarason, who was joined by George Pence, chaired the bash that included SR producing artistic director Aimee Hayes, SR President Dr. Bernard Jaffe and Marlene, Treasurer Kerry Clayton with Paige Royer, Secretary Renee Zack, past President Richard Lee Mathis (of auction donor Symmetry Jewelers), Bethany Bultman, Susan Krinsky and Hugh Long, Randy Smith and Diane Sinclair, Bobby Major Jr. and Karen, Gene and Glennda Bach, and scores more in supporting roles, who celebrated the theater’s 30 years.
For his 29 years of service to Congregation Temple Sinai and to the community, retiring Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn was honored at the Temple Sinai Golden Gala in the Teal and Stephen Goldring Pavilion. Mayor Mitch Landrieu presented him with a key to the city.
Further features of the gallivanting, which was described as “a huge success,” were a silent auction, Sazerac Company beverages, taste treats galore, a presentation by Pastor Debra Morton of Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Church, NOLA Flora’s lovely centerpieces, musical performances by Amy Alvarez and pianist Marcus St. Julien, speeches by Temple Sinai President Robert “Bob” Brickman (with Caroline) and past President Saundra K. Levy, and a slideshow of the honoree’s 29 years at Temple Sinai presented by Cantor Joel Cohn. Underwriters included several businesses, as well as 43 individuals. The patrons numbered in the dozens.
Notables, and they were legion, included Robert and Pam Steeg, Mark and Amy Stein, Donald Levy, Clifford and Arvilla Kern, Irving and Phyllis Shnaider, Robert and Marie Wolf, Bill and Susan Hess, David and Tiffany Oestreicher, J. M. and Millie Fried, Herman Kohlmeyer, Judge Robin Giarrusso, EllenRae and John Shalett, Josh and Gigi Danzig, and Max Nathan Jr. Gratitude and goodbye fused in a format of friendship.