• Sally Gerak

Social Lights April 2019

Updated: Feb 8




In this edition

  • Motor City Open Squash Tournament at the BAC: story & photos

  • Figure Skating in Detroit Reception during the U.S. Championships: story & photos

  • Detroit Cristo Rey Gift Gathering Pre-Party: story & photos

  • The Community House, a brief reflection

  • Marian Mardi Gras Benefit: story & photos

  • Birmingham Education Foundation Unabashed BASH: story & photos


In future editions

  • Beyond Basic's 20th Anniversary Gala

  • SHINE benefit for Variety and FAR camp programs

  • Erin Go Bra(gh) CARE House benefit

  • Academy of the Sacred Heart Annual Benefit

  • West Point Founders Day Dinner

  • Women's Division Project HOPE Safari

  • ORT Michigan Region WINGO

  • Brother Rice Irish Nite

  • Detroit Zoological Society Conservation Gala

  • Junior League of Birmingham Little Black Dress Brunch

  • Roeper School Scholarship Auction

  • Alternatives for Girls Annual Role Model Dinner

  • Screening of "Call Me Bill, The William Davidson Story"

  • Friends of Preservation Bloomfield "Hamilton" Benefit

  • Questers Vintage Fashion Luncheon

  • FAR Sing Out 4 Kids

  • Bloomfield Hills Schools Foundation Celebration


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Motor City Open

As a 24-year-old widow I moved to Birmingham after college in Ann Arbor to share an apartment with a Best Friend. A swim and racquet club was under construction on Maple Road in Bloomfield. At the time, I remember thinking “Who on earth would want to play beside such a busy road?” That was sixty years ago.


That club, the Birmingham Athletic Club, is now renowned for its sports and family friendly, social atmosphere. It is home to three, thriving racquet programs, a top-tier swim program, fitness center and dining facilities. And, as the Polar Vortex was raging outside, BAC members were warm inside hosting the Motor City Open, the second-longest running pro squash tourney in the United States.

Derrick Glencer, Peter Schmidt and Mike Beauregard chaired the 20th annual MCO. It was presented by the BAC’s Motor City Squash and Education Foundation and The Suburban Collection. In addition to five days of outstanding competition by 24 top-ranked professionals from around the world, the schedule included, thanks to support from the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation, a Junior Clinic with the Pros. Participants included kids from Racquet Up Detroit, an impressive, non-profit, urban youth development program that combines squash, mentoring, and community service.


And since the tournament purse of $75,000 is critical to attracting the best pros, sponsors were guests of honor for a strolling supper with the players following the first night of competition. A lively, Roaring 20s members / player party after the final match concluded the five days. Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar defeated Peruvian Diego Elias in the finals. In addition to their shares of the purse, they both got a Longines watch from Greenstone’s. In the post-match ceremony, Racquet Up Detroit received a check for $20,000 from The Suburban Collection. This brings to more than $300,000 the total raised for charities by the foundation at “that club on a busy road” in the 20 years of hosting the MOC.

1. MCO Co-chairs Peter Schmidt and Derrick Glencer, Racquet Up Detroit Director Derek Aquirre Photo: Bryan Mitchell

2. Dicran Haidostian, Rick Claar, Robert Greenstone Photo: Bryan Mitchell

3. Dr. Mehul Mehta, MCO player Adrian Waller, Terry Barr, Seth Rogers Photo: Bryan Mitchell

4. Liz Luckenbach & Chris McLogan, Jon Uffelman, Magdy Talaat

5. Sponsors


6. Sponsors


Figure Skating in Detroit

Twenty-five years ago, when the US Figure Skating Championships were last in Detroit, the Bloomfield-based Detroit Skating Club managing director Jerod Swallow and his wife Elizabeth Punsalan won the dance competition. This year one of their many commitments was the reception hosted by Figure Skating in Detroit, an organization for girls of color that combines the life-transforming power of education with the discipline of figure skating. The girls practiced their social and speaking skills at a reception for 200 in the Legends Suite at Little Caesars Arena and they cheered with pride when 20 of their number skated in the closing ceremony. You go, girls!

1. Figure Skating in Harlem founder Sharon Cohen, Figure Skating in Detroit Champion Alissandra Aronow

2. Gold medal winner Meryl Davis with a Figure Skating in Detroit member

3. Detroit Skating Club managing director Jerod Swallow , Detroit Sports Commission’s Kris Smith

4. Detroit Skating Club test chair Chuck Jacobowitz


5. Olympian Timothy Goebel (left), Gold Medalist Brian Boitano, Figure Skating in Harlem’s Tina Lundgren

6. Spoken Word artist Annette Caprice (left), Figure Skating in Detroit Leader Lori Ward

7. Figure Skating in Detroit members who skated in the closing ceremony

Detroit Cristo Rey Gift Gathering Pre-Party

The HG Oldenkamp kitchen cabinet showroom on Coolidge Highway was a perfect place for 80 area supporters of Detroit Cristo Rey High School to gather before the school’s big fundraiser. They brought items that will be on the silent auction block at Viva! Gems of Detroit, Friday, May 17 at Eastern Market Shed 3. At the Pre-Party - hosted by the John Bergmanns, Mark Thuts, Julian Joniks and Janet Baccanari – folks socialized, savored Mexican chow and met DCR president Mike Khoury. All we talked with who have seen the Detroit school up close eagerly commented on the extraordinarily positive atmosphere they witnessed at the college-preparatory Catholic high school that serves economically disadvantaged students. For tickets to Viva ! Gems of Detroit call 313-402-0081.


1. DCR president Mike Khoury, event co-host John Bergmann, his brother / business partner Steve Bergmann

2. Ilene Hill, DCR’s Naomi Howrani, DCR board member Cathy Weissenborn

3. Event co-hosts Mary Thut, Janet Baccanari and Tammy Jonik

4. Ernie & Staci Moosherr, co-host Donna Bergmann

5. Co-host Mark Thut, Jim & Dawn Crowley

6. Ronnie O’Hara, co-host Julian Jonik, Carol Grombala

7. Erin Elmiger, Mary Bergmann


8. DCR board member Andy Combs, Jon Randall

9. Cathie Rourke and Katie Rourke Petersen

10. DCR sophomores Marissa Flowers and Cameron Henry

The Community House

Cynthia Ford was the keynote speaker at the Bates Street Society Dinner which honors pillars of the community and the most loyal donors to The Community House. The passionate philanthropist was introduced by her daughter-in-law, Sarah Ford, a new TCH board member. The presence of Ford family members made this reporter smile to recall something she learned doing research in 1993 as chair of The Community House 70th anniversary celebration. The local newspaper report of the 1923 grand opening of the house proudly included the society note that Mrs. Henry Ford was in attendance. Want to bet there’ll be a Ford at the 100th anniversary in 2023?And speaking of TCH, its annual OUR TOWN Art Show and Sale has moved from the fall to May. The not-to-miss opening night party ($75 tickets) is 6 – 9 pm, Thursday, May 16. The show is free the next two days.



Marian Mardi Gras Benefit Evening

Sue Atwell, Mary Wenzel and Joellen Shortley chaired the annual Marian High School Mothers’ and Dads’ Club fundraiser. They continued the rolling good times Mardi Gras theme of recent years. Guests - more than 250 parents, alums and alum parents ($150, $125, $100 tickets) - first congregated in the student lounge to banter, imbibe and bid in the huge silent auction ($35,800). The buffet spread Ferndale’s Howe’s Bayou presented featured savory Cajun specialties for sustenance throughout the live auction ($29,900). The top dollar item in the live auction ($5,000) was the 2019 graduation perk of choice reserved seats and extra tickets. The MHS loyalists then pledged $41,900 for STEM initiatives. Thanks also to raffles ($12,225) and sponsors the annual benefit evening raised more than $150,000 for tuition assistance and the science program at the faith-based, all-girls, college prep school.



1. Event chairs Sue Atwell, Mary Wenzel and Joellen Shortley

2. Committee members / Mothers’ Club president Betsy Schneider, Dad’s Club president Layth Barash and Dads' Club VP Stan Patterson

3. Sponsors Dave & Kathy Petoskey with Lou Guerrezo & Toni Iafrate

4. Sponsors Mike & Jenny Barto

5. Julie Thiel, board president Tim McConaghy

6. Martha Wilker, Nancy Fullerton and Tammy Freitag

7. Committee members Patti Brozek and Jennifer Waechter

8. Board Secretary / alum Sandra Plezia & Ryan Husaynu, Cathy & Danny Brooks

9. Board treasurer Rob & Michele Whitty


10. Kathryn Ambrose, Bonnie Foley

11. Andy & Vicki Harrington, Don Ambrose

12. Ann Hornick modeling fur trimmed cape donated by Dittrich Furs of Bloomfield

13. Student event volunteers Bridget Swayze, Julia Barto and Stella Spagnuolo


14. Head of School Sr. Lenore Pocheski, IHM, Assistant Head of School Jeff Zajac, Academic Dean Stacey Cushman

15. Alum Paula Regep & Mark Boehman

16. Board VP Sharon McMurray and Dave Wurtz, Head of School Sr. Lenore Pochelski, IHM



Birmingham Education Foundation Unabashed BASH

Dr. John Hoeffler, the visionary who founded the BEF when he was the superintendent 26 years ago, received the inaugural Legacy Award at the 19th annual BEF fundraiser. It attracted 271 to The Townsend Hotel where cocktail hour diversions included a large silent auction coordinated by Catherine Turnbull, a wine pull and buying Heads or Tails participation necklaces. An event tradition – entertainment by BPS students – was continued by Groves’ Electric Mayhem and Seaholm’s “Hello Dolly” cast before the short live auction. (The unusual last item – the opportunity to select the first three songs for dancing – brought $1,200 from a guest who wanted to be sure that people stuck around and danced.) The live auction was followed by pledging outright donations ($31,400) and the fun Heads or Tails game with valuable prizes. Not counting an online auction that continued after the BASH and thanks also to generous sponsors, the event raised more than $150,000 to fund exceptional educational experiences for all student levels.




1. Ann & BEF board president Patrick Liebler


2. David & trustee / auction coordinator Catherine Turnbull


3. Sponsor Air Systems’ Bart & Laura Tinsley , Brian & Ashley Hafner

4. Retired BPS Superintendent Dr. John Hoeffler, new BPS Superintendent Mark Dziatczak Photo: Dan Parente.


5. BEF Executive Director Alison Hendry, event coordinator Wendy Christie

6. BEF trustee Matt & Katie Heller

7. Jeremy Nafus & sponsor Barton Marlow’s Megann Wallace


8. Volunteers Diana Patterson, Georgene Moran, Maureen George and Audra Bartholomew

9. Ben & Cheryl Mangiapane

10. Event volunteers Nicole Corum, Linda & Ron Hatfield, Julie Erne and Jennifer Roma

11. Dave & Susan Priestly

12. Teacher / event volunteer Sherri Levitt


13. Dan Feder, BPS assistant superintendent Rachel Guinn

14. Jeff & Jenn Gerkin, Spencer & Courtney Doty

15. Heidi & Carman Smith


16. Dave & Kari Silcox

17. Bill & Cheryl Kaechle

18. Groves Electric Mayhem: Ethan Biederman, Clarice Kim, Sam Sundberg, Emilie Felax, Morghan Larson

Event sponsors

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by Sally G.

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