June has already logged monthly merriment, but three events from May generated funds, good will and good times. A brace of back-to-back events in the Hyatt Regency’s Empire Ballroom amassed hundreds for the Dress for Success New Orleans luncheon, and then, the following evening, for Heart and Soul hobnobbing. Earlier, and elsewhere at the Audubon Tea Room, there was more midday momentum with the Bridge House/Grace House Women of Substance Luncheon.
n The Heart of Sparkness
Bright and bountiful helped describe the recent Heart and Soul Gala presented by the Ray & Jessica Brandt Family Foundation at the Hyatt Regency put on by — and to benefit — the American Heart Association. Not only were there some of the town’s luminaries as guests, but also shiny jewelry in the auction spotlight and the razzle dazzle of the band Swingaroux with red-sequined-gowned Suzanne Yee McKamey as the vocalist. Then there was the car! A bright red 2015 Toyota Camry for the Car Raffle presented by the above Ray & Jessica Brandt Foundation.
Chances were $100 apiece with all proceeds slated for the AHA and its programs benefiting the New Orleans community.
Teamed to chair the bash that started with a lively cocktail reception from 6-8 p.m. and silent auction ado were the Brandts. More VIPs — and most attended — were the AHA’s Greater New Orleans Board of Directors. Donna Klein is the board chairwoman and Dr. Robert Matheney, the president. Additional board names are Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, Dr. Terry D’Souza, Valerie Englade, Bridget Galatas, Dr. Thomas Grimstad, Dr. Louis Glade, Dr. Kathleen Kennedy, Molly Kimball, Gary LaGrange, Stanley Smith, Dr. Roselyn St. Etienne and Barbara Turner Windhorst.
Shortly before 8 p.m., guests started streaming into the ballroom for the seated dinner. A salad (with among other ingredients, curry roasted carrots), grilled hangar steak and grilled cobia, and a frangipani tart with vanilla ice cream filled the gourmet bill. Meanwhile, guests eyed the decorations of floating candles glittering with rhinestone accents, white roses atop black napery, and balloon creations. They also thrilled to the live auction’s offerings, including artwork by Terrance Osborne, a guest appearance for two on TV’s “NCIS,” sports packages, trips (including one for a week to Anacapri, Italy), and a dinner party for eight at the Brandt home with a private chef. Ruthie Winston got the items going and gone as auctioneer.
Additional headliners were Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee Sheng for the Open Your Heart Program and, for the emceeing, Scott Walker, WDSU news anchor.
Noted, too, were AHA Executive Leadership Team members Jay Exnicios with spouse Pamela, Lawrence Chehardy with Micki, Michael Read with Hope, chef Andrea Apuzzo, coach Ron Maestri, and Dr. Nicolas Bazan (also of the Cor Vitae donors) and Haydee. Then there were spouses Carolyn Elder and Walter Christy, Dr. and Mrs. Frank Smart, Dr. and Mrs. Edmond Kerut, Dr. Leslie and Gayle Levenson, Dr. Fortune Dugan, Steve and Jody Kuiper, Jeffrey and Donella Cummings, Judge and Mrs. Terry Alarcon, Bill and Kathy Hornsby, John and Carol Foley, Klara Cvitanovich (joined by several family members), Steve LaChute, Holley Haag and Patrick Quinn, Steven Lane, and Kristi Trail.
Also, Eleanor Farnsworth, who decided not to take a car to the Hyatt Regency and got a ride. She almost could have driven one home as the winner of the Toyota Car Raffle.
n Dressing for Success
Titled “Suits & Salads Luncheon,” the 6th annual event to benefit Dress for Success New Orleans filled up the Hyatt Regency’s Empire Ballroom. Features were myriad and included a silent auction, specialty cocktails by Cure and served by owner Neal Bodenheimer, bubbly and wine from The Deutsche Family Wines & Spirits, original artwork by Marianne Angeli Rodriguez, and performances by The Truffle Honeys – all before, the noon luncheon. At that time the 400 – plus men and women in attendance enjoyed gazpacho, Southwest smoked chicken salad, and desserts of Candace’s Cake Balls. The table arrangements of white roses came from Ambrose Garden, Dunn & Sonnier, Fat Cat Flowers, and Mitch’s Flowers (by Monique Chauvin).
Juli Miller Hart, past president of DFSNO, welcomed the crowd. Next up for the program portion were Chenita Pickett-Adams as the “Success Story” speaker and Volunteer of the Year Jennifer Davis, who was presented by DFSNO President Diane M. Riche. Both Chenita and Jennifer had extensive luncheon support from family and friends.
Five style setters then appeared: Katie D. LeGardeur representing Ballin’s Ltd.; Gina Goings, eM’s; Jennifer Lauscha, Mimi; chef Sue Zemanick, sopo; and Marilee Hovet, W by Worth Collection. They were interviewed at the luncheon by Meaghan Ryan Bonavita, DFSNO vice president and luncheon co-chairwoman with Shon Cowan Baker and Sarah Martzoff. The remaining officers (other than President Riche) are the above Shon, Celeste P. McDonald, and Lori Byargeon..
Keynote speaker Ti Martin, co-proprietor of the Commander’s Family of Restaurants, then regaled the crowd with her wit and wisdom. Hilarity, too. She strutted on the stage to “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge wearing her aunt Adelaide’s trademark hat and coat. It was soon ditched for her own “Ti”-style black clothes. After her upbeat, motivational speech, she danced her way back to her seat to the sounds of “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & the Waves.
Adding still more attractiveness were Hiller Jewelry and Mignon Faget, whose fab jewelry donations to the raffle brought in lots of bucks. All to help DFSNO, which promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and career and lifestyle development. The boutique is located at 6117 Magazine St.
Applauding all the worthy activity were 2014 Volunteer of the Year Jennie Lynn Waters, Phyllis Taylor, Carroll Suggs, Gayle Benson, Pam Lupin, Jane Casbarian, Pam and Bill Ryan, Dinah Campbell, Essence Harris Banks, Nadine Brown, Councilwoman Susan Guidry, twins Jean Rice and Joan Ingram, Kathy Singleton, Barbara Ballard, Jamie Moreau, Sue Singer, Dottie Brennan, Carolyn Elder, Robin Borne, Tiffa Boutte, Jerri Cullinan, and DSF scores more.
n Women of Substance
“New Beginnings” themed the Audubon Tea Room-held Women of Substance Luncheon of Bridge House/Grace House that honored Walton Goldring, Ali Rouse Royster, and Celie Stumm Howard as the 2015 WoS. Susan Rodriguez received the Richard “Buzzy” Gaiennie Award; Pam Albers, the Volunteer Recognition; and, for Alumna of the Year, Michelle Duplantis. The above Walton co-chaired the auction with Andree Batt and Carey Yacoubian.
Guests began arriving at 11 a.m. to begin their bidding at the extensive silent auction. Later, a highlight of the live activity was a four-night stay at the Historic Biltmore Village in Asheville, North Carolina, that was donated by in-attendace Jay and Andree Batt and purchased by Cynthia Borrello.
Punctuating all of that were the table pleasures of mixed baby greens salad, Louisiana Gulf shrimp, and crème caramel, as well as the musical menu provided by Mike Morris. The tables were adorned with for-sale wall “pockets” and candle sconces designed by Denise Thornton, an artist and member of the luncheon committee of almost two dozen.
In attendance, as well, and ready to “Begin the Beginnings,” were Millie Baudier, Steve Sawyer, partners Bryan Batt and Tom Cianfichi, and, from BH/GH, CEO Else Pedersen, Michelle Gardere, Kevin Gardere, and Joe Pitman.
n Around and About
Retired Judge David Williams couldn’t stop smiling at his “Dat Dog with David” birthday party at Dat Dog on Magazine Street. Co-hosting the Memorial Day fun was spouse Ann Williams, one of the slew of family members and chums on hand to wish David all the best.
The preceding week Bostonian Curt DiCamillo, an American Architectural historian, lecturer and writer, entertained members of the area English-Speaking Union at the Round Table Club with his “Tudor Court” talk. Applause was hearty after the tales of intrigue, mischief and accomplishment. Mastheaders were ESUNO Chapter President Dave Grissett with stylish spouse Shauna, and national ESU President Dr. Quinn Peeper with Michael Howard. All will be celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday today at a gala brunch.