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  • Sally Gerak

Week of 12.31.18

Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan Mistletoe Marketplace Kerri Vizena chaired the Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan's 15th annual holiday-themed fundraiser that brought more than 760 supporters ($85 ticket) to the Palazzo Grande. Shopping at the 29 vendor booths was a big attraction. Choices included Utica’s Motown Soup which, like ASLM, is a volunteer operation. It donates all profits to food banks and other non-profits. An appealing silent auction that included eight, Pick-a-Purse luxury handbags filled with goodies, two cash raffles, an extensive basket raffle and the for-sale centerpieces provided other “shopping” opportunities before the sit-down luncheon. The program had highlights. ALSM President Nancy Troyer put all the chapter’s community programs in the spotlight. Honorary chair Fox-2’s Monica Gayle spoke movingly about ALSM’s Operation School Bell clothing distribution program. Her sentiments were echoed from firsthand experience by the principal and a widowed father from a beneficiary school. Speakers from two other beneficiaries – Wayne County SAFE and My Pregnancy Coach Maternal Infant Health Program – also thanked the donors for “…making a real difference in the lives of thousands of children and their families." The annual event raised more than $113,000, making significant inroads on the chapter’s $388,000 annual philanthropic budget. Each year it helps clothe, feed, educate and comfort 20,000 residents (infants, children, adults) in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties. ALSM, founded in 1993, is an all-volunteer organization with nearly 300 members and hundreds of community volunteers who donated over 49,000 volunteer hours last year. FAR Friends and Fa-La-La For the past 18 years, one of the happiest events on the calendar occurs in the Seligman Performing Arts Center at Detroit Country Day School the night FAR showcases some of its 1,300 members with special needs. The singing and dancing, including the parent-child ballroom dance scene, evokes ear-to-ear smiles and rousing applause. This year about 550 ($75 ticket) were in the audience that also applauded when FAR president Pamela Ayres honored Variety, The Children’s Charity for its commitment to Community and Hero Awardee / interior designer Steven Teich for always making the event reception so handsome, and when music therapist Renea Murphy presented Ron Piotrowski with the Volunteer of the Year Award for his loyal stage management of the demanding event. Before the show, event chairs Cynthia Lutz and Julie Kowalik greeted the 120 reception Silver Circle guests ($150 ticket) who sipped and supped at a reception and at the Afterglow where the performers high-fived their fans. Most also checked out the handmade giftables in the FAR Bazaar. The evening raised $85,000 for FAR’s therapeutic arts and recreation programs. Supporters will gather again at the Townsend on April 12 for the Sing Out for Kids event chaired by Karla Sherry. South Oakland Shelter Dancing with the Detroit Stars The 10th annual dance contest benefiting the homeless clients of South Oakland Shelter was chaired by Jennie and Bill Cook and Marci and Tim Rice. It brought 260 ($200, $250 tickets) to The Townsend. Before the program emceed by John Akouri, they socialized, sipped, supped and bid $23,425 in a great silent auction. Program highlights included a video of SOS success stories and the presentation by SOS President / CEO Ryan Hertz to the Cooks of a photo album. It chronicles the past dance events which they have chaired since it began. “It’s been a wild party,” Jennie admitted. Bill was also quick to praise the ongoing partnership of Gail and Rice and Arthur Murray Dance Studio talents and the sponsors. (See photo gallery.) Before the dancing began, Hertz announced that dancers Eric Fadie and Tara Szott Wasik topped the dancer fundraising list by raising $21,352. The other dancers were Chef Eric Avila, Kelli Robinson, Alexandria Riley and Angel Lavery. The judges – Derrick Coleman, Karen Dumas, Rabbi Rachel Shere and Roop Raj – had their hands full. But at the conclusion of the competition they announced that Riley’s grace with a prosthetic leg should get first place. Then guests took over the dance floor (music by DJ Prevy). The $165,416 raised brought the 10-year total to more than $1-million, a great legacy for Jennie and Bill Cook. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Evening at the Movies More than 300 supporters of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, braving the early, first snow of the season, gathered at Detroit’s Masonic Temple for the 41st Evening at the Movies. The venue was particularly appropriate because the movie they would see – “The Pickle Recipe” – was filmed in Detroit and produced by University of Michigan alum Sheldon Cohn. The film’s positive depiction of Detroit was important to Cohn, who was on hand to introduce it. Before the film, Beaumont’s Dr. James Lynch and Audrey and Gerry Weinberg were recognized for their commitment to the CCF community; Brandon Pomish spoke about living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease; and Fox 2’s Lee Thomas got people to donate $9,875. In five minutes. Thanks also to a small silent auction and generous sponsors the annual event raised $160,000. Check in the coming weeks for reports & photos from these events: Women’s Division Project HOPE Holiday Luncheon & Boutique Angels Place Annual Dinner Boys & Girls Clubs Great Futures Gala Christ Child Society Christmas Home Tour Alternatives for Girls Holiday High Tea Grace Centers of Hope Night of Hope Kidney Ball Rochester Women’s Fund Holiday Party Salvation Army Sing-a-Long Meadow Brook Hall Starlight Stroll Detroit Historical Society Ball Irish Nite Auction Ingathering


The Gallery kicks off the 2019 North American International Auto Show at 6:30 pm, Saturday, Jan.12, 2019 at the MGM Grand. Plans include a strolling dinner from 6:30- 8pm, a silent auction to benefit C.S.Mott Children’s Hospital and the Car Salon from 8 – 11 pm. The salon will feature a $10 million collection of the most acclaimed automobiles the world has to offer. For tickets ($500) call 248.283.5126. For sponsorship opportunities contact Tavi Fulkerson at 248-819-8332 The NAIAS Charity Preview is 6 -9 pm, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 at Cobo Center. Plans include first views of the spectacular North American International Auto Show 2019 at one of the most exclusive, high profile events in the nation. Since 1976, the Charity Preview has raised more than $117 million for southeastern Michigan children's charities - over $40 million of which was raised in the last 10 years alone. Charity Preview beneficiaries are: Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan; Boys Hope Girls Hope Detroit, Children's Center, The Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation; Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund, Detroit Pal, Judson Center, and March of Dimes Metro Detroit. For tickets ($400) 1-888.838.7500. The night of Charity Preview Lisa & Bill Ford and Kathy & Jim Hackett are hosting AutoGlow 4:30 pm – midnight at Ford Field to benefit The Children’s Center. Plans include valet parking, shuttle service to and from the Charity Preview, a pre-event reception, strolling dinner service, desserts and full bar service, live music and dancing, followed by a late-night menu. For those looking to design a dream getaway, the evening's raffle features travel vouchers for air travel, made possible by sponsor Delta Air Lines. There are several drawings throughout the night and raffle tickets are $25 each or five for $100. For AutoGlow tickets ($275 -by Dec. 14, 2018, $325 after Dec. 14) call the Children’s Center at (313) 262-1085 or go to

Kris & Andy Applebee are hosting the CARE House Circle of Friends Preview Party 6 – 8 pm, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. The celebrity guest / author / sex trafficking survivor Theresa Flores will also be the featured speaker at the luncheon the next day chaired by Lisa Bouchard & Anna Rea at The Townsend Hotel. For tickets ($125-luncheon; $175-patron, $150-preview party; $275- patron & preview party) go to For sponsorships go to

David King, Dante Rosa and Aubrey Tobin are chairing Variety, The Children’s Charity’s sixth annual Chili, Wings & Soup(er) Bowl 6:30 pm, Friday, January 25, 2019 at the Townsend Hotel. Bruce & Kathy Broock Ballard are the honorary chairs. Plans include drinks, dancing, a raffle and friendly competition for best chili, wings and soup. Featured restaurants include: Under Bar & Grill, Beans & Cornbread, Birmingham Country Club, Brady's Tavern, The Community House, Hazel Ravines & Downtown, Jim Brady's Detroit, The Maple Kitchen, The Rugby Grille, The Souperbowl, Whistle Stop Diner and more. Awards for both People's Choice and Critic's Choice (with Celebrity Judges Annabel Cohen, Kate Lawson and Matthew Prentice) will be announced. For sponsorships and tickets ($100, $150) call 248-258-5511.

The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research is presenting an Edible Landscapes Dinner at Thornlea, 5:00 - 8:45pm, Sunday, January 27, 2019. The Farm-to-Table Dining and Cranbrook History Experience will feature a five-course dinner and wine pairings by Chef Matthew Baldridge and bartender Jarrod Kassis inspired by Henry and Carolyn Booth’s journeys and the menus they collected in France. Tours of Thornlea’s four floors will be included. This intimate dinner, which is strictly limited to 50 guests, is hosted by Gregory Wittkopp, Director of the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, and will feature Cranbrook storyteller extraordinaire, Collections Fellow Kevin Adkisson. For tickets ($195) go to The Bates Street Society Dinner is February 2, 2019 at The Community House. Plans include valet parking, a three-course seated dinner, wine and cocktails, keynote speaker Cynthia Ford, music by Ben Sharkey and inspirational recognition of new Pillars of the Community: Mitch Albom, Richard DeVore, Dr. Jeffrey Fischgrund, Jennifer Granger, Arthur Horwitz, Amy and Daniel Loepp and Bill Roberts. For tickets ($300-Patron, $100-Past Pillars - includes 6 pm champagne reception; $250-cocktails at 6:30) go to

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

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