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  • Sally Gerak

Week of 8.6.18

Shimmer on the River

Six kilted pipers heralded the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy program honoring Matt and Karen Cullen and saluted the honoree’s ethnic heritage. The rousing opening was roundly applauded by the 650 VIPs ($250) gathered on the Rivard Plaza. They also applauded the deluge of tributes by speakers like Roger Penske, Terry Rhadigan, Mariam Noland, Faye Alexander Nelson and Carl Levin. Without exception, all referenced the honorees’ exceptional leadership, vision and support for a first class walkway along the Detroit River. Emcee Will Smith (DRC CFO) even noted that Matt was the man who, 12 years ago, changed a too long, International Freedom Festival into the shorter GM River Days Festival, necessitating a really big change. “The man moved the fireworks,” he declared. Matt paid tribute to all the partners, like the late Bob Larson and David Page. Karen said the Riverfront is like their fourth child. DRC president Mark Wallace recognized Matt and Karen’s ongoing commitment, including a recent gift of $4 million, by unveiling a name change for the plaza. Waiters passed champagne and all toasted the Cullen Plaza. (It is home to a café, a large sand box, a playscape, the Cullen Family Carousel, a glass map of the St. Lawrence Seaway, reflecting water features, colorful landscaping and the Diamond Jack Boat Tours dock.) Another 350 ($150) arrived for food truck cuisine, carnival rides, games and music by BeatleMania Live! Thanks also to generous sponsors (see photo gallery) the evening raised $277,000 for the Conservancy. It also kicked off the 12th annual, two-day GM River Days that attracted 140,000.

Lighthouse Salute America

Lighthouse of Oakland County’s 15th annual patriotic-themed fundraiser attracted 150 people ($150, $250 tickets) to Pontiac’s Lafayette Grande. The former Masonic Temple, built in 1923, was a great venue for the 1930s and 1940s-theme party which inspired some fashion choices. (The vintage elevator even had an operator.) Both the honoree, Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, and LOC CEO Rick David noted the building’s revival symbolizes Pontiac’s comeback. Emcee CBS 50’s Karen Carter introduced former Lighthouse client Shannon Smith, now a PATH staff member. The single mother got a standing ovation when her survival saga ended with an MA in Social Work. Silent and live auctions ($20,000), paddle raise pledging ($6,000) and generous sponsors (see photo galley) combined to raise $70,000 for the comprehensive social service agency that David described as “...a pillar that helps to guide people home.” The swing music of the Rhythm Society Orchestra kept the dance floor crowded with folks burning the comfort food calories.

DSO Heroes Gala

The eighth annual stellar symphony fundraiser was a bit like a love-in for philanthropists Penny and Harold Blumenstein and Leonard Slatkin, who is leaving the DSO after 10 years. The 900 concert goers in Orchestra Hall enthusiastically applauded the warm and glowing tributes by cellist Wei Yu, DSO president Anne Parsons, board chair Mark Davidoff, and conductor Teddy Abrahams. They also gave standing ovations to: the orchestra; the Blumensteins, Slatkin, who quipped “ heart attacked me seven weeks ago”; Slatkin’s son Daniel who wrote and conducted “In Fields” as a surprise tribute to his father; Slatkin’s wife/composer Cindy McTee; vocalist Storm Large’s exceptional Cole Porter renditions; and the Youth Orchestra musicians on stage. Slatkin’s encore – Carmen’s ‘Hoedown” – energized the 250 fans of the heroes ($1,000 & up tickets) for the splendid Gala dinner in the Cummings Cube. It was catered by Forte Belanger (and starred beef filet and sea bass) at tables beautifully set by former DSO Volunteer Council liaison Anne Wilzack’s AWE Productions. The extraordinary soiree raised nearly $1.2-million for the DSO's commitment to transform the lives of area youth through music education (weekend youth ensemble training, educational concerts in Orchestra Hall and in-school programming). Past Hero Awardees are Jim Nicholson, Lloyd Reuss, Barbara Van Dusen, Dan Gilbert and Matt Cullen, The Davidson/Gerson Family, John & Marlene Boll, and Bill & Madge Berman.

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

A House Party at Cranbrook

St. Hugo of the Hills Altar Guild Garden Party

Meadow Brook Theatre Concert & Cuisine

Women's Fund of Rochester Summer Soiree

Ghana Mission Donor Dinner


The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit Fifth Annual Interchange Art + Dinner Series fundraiser offers eight dinners in spectacular locations from Detroit to Long Island featuring landmark architecture, lakefront vistas and outstanding art collections. The remaining events are hosted by Roz and Scott Jacobson at 7 pm, Friday, August 24 in their Bloomfield Hills home; Ann Stevenson and Curt Catallo at 7 pm, Saturday Sept. 8 at their lakefront Grosse Pointe home. For tickets call 313.832.6622 or go to

The Founders Junior Council FASH Bash is Thursday, August 16 at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The co-chairs are David and Christine Colman, Andrea and Chris Provenzano, Farhat and Mohammad Qazi, Nedda Shayota and Nathaniel Wallace. Plans include valet parking, a cocktail reception on the DIA Woodward Plaza at 7 pm, Neiman Marcus fashion show inside at 8:30, the Lincoln Motor Car Company Afterglow on the plaza at 8:30. The $375 and $250 tickets that include seats for the show are sold out. The $1,500 and $750 tickets are still available. So are the $150 tickets to the Afterglow. The latter include 8:30 arrival and the fashion show via live feed streamed outside. To purchase tickets go to www. or call 313.833.5646.

Kevin Kernen and Jonas Rodger are the co-chairs and Mark Anusbigian is the honorary chair of Forgotten Harvest’s 16th annual Cruisin’ to Drive Out Hunger 6 – 10 pm, Friday, Aug. 17 at his Westborn Market in Berkley. Plans include valet parking, food and drink from Metro Detroit’s best purveyors, live music by Larry Lee and the Back in the Day Band, a photo booth, a silent auction and a sneak preview of the Woodward Dream Cruise from a great, curbside vantage. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services is the presenting sponsor. Call Rebecca Gade Sawicki at 248-864-7527 for other sponsorship opportunities. For tickets ($150) go to events at

Jason Brooks, Kevin Elbinger and Renee Wolgin are chairing Rub-A-Dub 5:30 pm, Tuesday, Aug. 21 at Franklin Hills Country Club. The annual event benefiting ORT’s education programs will honor Randy Wertheimer. Call 248-723-8880 for tickets.

Frank Torre and Kerrie Binno are chairing the Boys Hope Girls Hope Liberty Mutual Invitational Monday, Aug. 27 at Franklin Hills Country Club. Plans also include post golf cocktails, dinner, auctions and awards program. Go to for sponsorships, registration and details or call Nancy Stahl or Michael Gallo at the Boys Hope Girls Hope office at (313) 862-0707.

The annual Big Wine Classic that raises college scholarship funds for deserving students and honors the memory of the late Rob Schuele is Monday, Aug. 27 at Birmingham Country Club. For registration, sponsorships and details go to

The 18th Annual Ted Lindsay Foundation Golf Outing Monday, September 10 at The Detroit Golf Club offers golf, dinner and open bar, silent and live auctions and the awards program or the post golf-only activities. A highlight of the dinner program will be the presentation of two Courage Awards which recognize a person and a family who demonstrate great character and perseverance while living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. For information go to

Laurie and Tom Cunnington are chairing Girls On Track 6 – 9 pm, Wednesday, Sept. 12 at the M1 Concourse to benefit the Women of Tomorrow mentoring program for more than 1,200 girls at-risk girls. Plans include valet parking, food, specialty drinks, thrill ride on the track with professional driver, racing simulator, DJ music by iHeart media and exotic cars on display. For sponsorships and tickets ($200-individual; $2,500 & up - tables) contact Jill Harris at or 248- 430-4095 or go to

Rose and Brian Bolyard are chairing the 31st annual Birmingham House Tour fundraiser for the Community House 9:30 am – 3:30 pm, Thursday, Sept. 13. Tickets are $40 in advance and can be purchased by phone at 248-644-5832 or online The event is presented by Hall & Hunter Realtors, with support from : Ethan Allen, Gorman’s Furniture and Boylard Lumber. Plans include self-guided touring of seven unique homes ranging in style from traditional to contemporary. Day of tour tickets will also be available for $45.

Linda Juracek-Lipa and Sue Nine are chairing Hospice of Michigan’s SPEED – A Chandeliers Event 5:30 – 9:00 pm, Thursday, Sept.13 at M1 Concourse in Pontiac. Plans include valet parking, open bar, a strolling dinner, one-of-a-kind thrill rides with professional drivers along the concourse and the program. It will feature the presentation of the 32nd annual Crystal Rose Award to Rabbi E.B. (Bunny) Freedman from the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network for his passionate commitment to HOM and its mission. For tickets ($120; thrill rides-$100 donation) go to Proceeds will benefit HOM’s Open Access program that ensures palliative care regardless of age, diagnosis or ability to pay.

The Community House Foundation and the Birmingham Teen Council are presenting the inaugural Movie Marathon Friday, Sept. 14 12:30 pm – to Saturday, Sept. 15, 6:00 am at Emagine Palladium in Birmingham. Plans include 18-hours of movie watching fun, unlimited soda and popcorn, dinner, breakfast, a midnight snack. Proceeds will benefit Community House children’s programs. Registrants will create their own personal fundraising page to raise a minimum of $100 to participate. Contact The Community House for details on how to register at 248-644-5832 or visit

Rochester’s Neighborhood House will celebrate 50 years of helping people in crisis on Sunday, Sept. 16 at Canterbury Village in Lake Orion. Plans include a car show open to the public from 9 am – 2:30 pm and a Birthday Party with dinner, open bar, music and silent auction from 3 – 7 pm. For tickets to the latter ($115) go to or call 248-651-5836, ext. 17. Connie Beckett and Kelly Shuert are chairing the Variety Feeds Kids Luncheon 11:30 am, Thursday, Sept. 27 at Pine Lake Country Club. It will feature inspirational author/speaker Steve Pemberton, Chief Diversity Officer and Divisional Vice President—Walgreens. The Honorary Chairs are Karen and Alan Barry. For sponsorships and tickets ($125, $225-includes feeding one child for a year) call 248-258-5511, email or go to https://varietyfeedskids.event.

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

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