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  • Sally Gerak

Week of 2.12.18

Holocaust Memorial Center Exhibition Opening

An audience of 338 gathered at the Holocaust Memorial Center for the program opening the exhibition “Sifting Through Ashes.” (The title was inspired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel’s words, “The truth of Auschwitz remains hidden in its ashes.”) The art by Bruce Gendelman, whose ancestors perished in the genocide, was inspired by his 2015 trip to Poland and Ukraine where he toured and photographed death camps. In the program about American diplomacy and the Holocaust, retired U.S. foreign service official Arthur Berger described the Anti-Semitism of the 1930s and the mass destruction that can come from doing nothing. “Bruce’s art is a call to action,” he concluded. The artist said he used a trowel, the same tool death camp inmates used to build the gas chamber chimneys depicted in his paintings. (See photo gallery) He also revealed that he had nightmares when he was working on the paintings. “My art is ...meant to make you feel what happens when people lose their humanity...Art can be inspirational for young people searching for truth,” he said, adding his hope “ inspire goodness by portraying evil.” The artist is a friend and neighbor in Florida of Myrna and Spencer Partrich, who graciously hosted a pre-program cocktail reception for 140 HMC supporters. “Sifting Through Ashes” will run through March 27.

CARE House Circle of Friends

The government attorney who was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Circle of Friends was sexually abused 30 years ago as a nine-year-old. By his hockey coach. His recounting of the experience in “...the valley of darkness” mesmerized his audience at The Townsend (240 at $125 and up tickets). They were there to support the abused children served by CARE House of Oakland County. (The previous week at the Patron Party hosted by Elise and Steve Guidos, he told that group of 60 that no army of CARE House staff and volunteers existed to advocate for him. “I had an army of one, my dad,” he said.) “CARE House makes the story different” he told the luncheon crowd. “(With your checkbook) you walk with the kids....You are the face of God’s grace,” he concluded. In the crowd that gave him a standing ovation were most of the Circle of Friends founders (Doris August, Vicki Celani, Janet Grant, Lois Shaevsky and Dr. Linda Sircus) and the new 20-year patrons Judith Adler, Sandeep Ahuja, Elyse Foltyn, Diana Howard and Cheryl Matthews. In total there were 48 new patrons ($175) for this, the 22nd annual Circle of Friends. It raised more than $40,000.

Variety Cook Off

David King and Dante Rosa chaired a comfy, casual event that attracted 200 fun-loving, charitable folks ($100 & $150 tickets) to The Townsend Hotel to sip, sup, socialize, dance and make money for the core programs of Variety, The Children’s Charity. Nine generous restaurants (see photo gallery) brought yummy cuisine for sampling on the stroll. Guests and the food judges – Annabel Cohen, John Prepolec and Kate Lawson – picked their favorites. The results were: Critics’ Choice - Birmingham Country Club for chili, Crispelli’s for mac’n’cheese, J Bird Smoked Meats for appetizers; People’s Choice – Birmingham CC for chili, The Community House for mac’n’cheese; The Rugby Grille for appetizers. Jamez Frederick of Cloud9 Special Events provided dance music to work off the calories. Thanks also to a chance raffle of 23 lots ($6,500), the evening raised more than $50,000 to help change the lives of vulnerable children.

DAC Executive Club Luncheon

For only the second time in its history, the 700-member Executives Club of the Detroit Athletic Club made a Lifetime Achievement Award. (The first went to MOT founder Dr. David Dichiera several years ago.) Number two made the club’s February luncheon a love-in for philanthropist Maggie Allesee. The parade of speakers included her daughters and representatives from a token of the many non-profits she has supported with time, treasure and talent since her arrival in Bloomfield Hills in 1969. They referenced, among other attributes, her no-nonsense service, her insatiable desire to learn, and her mentorship. The honoree got a standing ovation when she said, “(Helping others) is a marvelous way to live...and a lot a fun.” She also mentioned plans to celebrate her 90th birthday September 3.

Check in the coming weeks for reports & photos from these events:

Variety, the Children’s Charity Cook-Off

Dancing with the St. Regis Stars Gala

Oakland County Bar Foundation Fellows Reception

Motor City Open Sponsors Party

The Community House Bates Street Society Dinner

Marian High School Mardi Gras

Good Samaritans Tea

Academy of the Sacred Heart Benefit

The Unabashed Bash

Delta Gamma Vision Benefit Tea

Send ideas for this column to Sally Gerak, 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, 48304, email or call (248) 646-6390.


Cindy Lazarus and Lynne Minish are chairing the Fallen and Wounded Soldier Fund 13th annual Dinner, Dance & Auction Saturday, Feb. 24 at the MGM Grand. The VIP reception starts at 5 pm; program emceed by Lil Lazarus begins promptly at 6. Congressman Mike Rogers is the featured speaker. For sponsorships and tickets ($150) contact Lynne Minish at or go to Proceeds support the all-volunteer organization which uses 97% of the proceeds for direct assistance to Michigan veterans and their families.

Nicolena Inniss-Stubs is chairing Eton Academy Lights, Camera, Auction Saturday, March 3 at the Birmingham school. Plans include silent and live auctions, raffle and catering by Forte Belanger. For tickets ($200) go to

Roz Blanck, Kristen Gross and Linda Schlesinger-Wagner are chairing JVS’ Trade Secrets, 6 pm, Tuesday, March 6 at the Troy Marriott. It will feature cocktails, dinner, the JVS signature raffle and the keynote speech by honorary chair Camille Walker Banks, executive director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at Wayne State University. For sponsorships and tickets ($150 & up) call Judy Strongman at 248-233-4213 or go to

Vic Pooler is chairing the Birmingham Rotary Club’s Masters Madness fundraising party 6 pm, Friday, March 9th at the Birmingham Athletic Club. Plans include the drawing for tickets to the 2018 Masters golf tournament ( trip by private charter for 2, tickets for Saturday and Sunday, April 7 & 8,) and other raffle prizes, a silent auction, food and spirits, and music by popular local band, Collision Six. For sponsorships and tickets ( $95 and up) call Bryan Frank at 313- 414-1169, email Birminghamrotaryclub or go to

Brooke Kircher and Ruthie Seltzer are chairing the SHINE Fashion Show 2 pm, Sunday, March 11 in South Rortunda at the Somerset Collection. It will star the beautiful FAR and Variety children and benefit the camp programs of FAR Therapeutic Arts & Recreation and the Variety 4-H Horseback Riding Program. For tickets ( $35; $100-patron; $200-benefactor, includes a one-week campership for a child) call 248-258-5511.

Uhy’s Gordon Follmer and volunteer Mary Dunn will be honored at Beyond Basic’s Annual Event 6 pm, Friday, March 16 at the Detroit Athletic Club. Plans include cocktails, sweated d inner, and live auction. For tickets ($150, $500-benefactor) call Johanna Zwally at 248-408-1735.

Brother Rice High School Irish Nite XLI is 6 pm, Saturday, March 17 at Birmingham Country Club. Plans include food, fun, fellowship, silent and live auctions. March Madness games will be playing live on all TVs at the club with great tournament auction items up for bid. The Honorary Chairs are Alyson & Mike Brown ’86, Karen & Roger Denha ’74, Julie & Richard Penington, and Krystin & William Saputo ’99. The Auction Coordinators are Megan Marderosian and Susan Reid. For tickets ($75-friend, $150-benefcator, includes premium open bar) go to

Lidija Grahovac is chairing the Women’s Division Project HOPE Hats Off to New Members Tea at the Townsend noon – 3 pm, Wednesday, March 21. In addition to the Townsend’s legendary savories and sweets plans include a $25 gift certificate for new members, informal modeling of Nina McLemore spring fashions and Luke Song hats, Art Loft shopping, a raffle and harp music. For tickets ($65-friend, $75-patron includes 15 raffle tickets, $100-benefactor includes 30 raffle tickets) contact Contessa Bannon at 248-860-7004 or by email at Proceeds support medical services worldwide.

Florine Mark and Anne Parsons are chairing the Women of Tomorrow Inspiring Detroit Dinner 6 pm, Thursday, March 22 at the Detroit Athletic Club. Plans include cocktails, dinner and a program emceed by Paula Tutman. It will honor philanthropist Katie Valenti, WDIV’s Marla Drutz, PNC’s Gina Coleman, iHeartMichigan Media’s Nick Gnau plus mentors Joanne Faycurry and Judith Trepeck. For sponsorships and tickets ($175) call Jill Harris at 248-430-4095 or go to Proceeds will support the mentoring and scholarship program that pairs 130 highly accomplished women with more than 1,200 at-risk girls in Metro Detroit public high schools for inspiration, motivation and guidance.

Faye Nelson and Pam Rodgers are chairing the Alternatives for Girls Role Model Dinner Wednesday, March 28 at Cobo Center. The honorees are GM’s Alicia Boler Davis, attorney Deborah LaBelle and Comerica’s Monica L. Martinez. Plans include valet parking, 5:30 reception and silent auction, 6:45 dinner, program and live auction. For tickets ($200) call Joi Mitchell at 313-361-4000, ext. 4000 or go to

Send ideas for this column to Sally Gerak, 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, 48304 or email

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