• Sally Gerak

Social Lights August #1, 2019

In this issue


  • HAVEN Blossom Gala

  • Women Rock Science

  • Live @ First: "Bonhoeffer, The Musical" Showcase

  • Sunset at the Zoo

  • Crohn's & Colitis Foundation Spring into Style

  • Sheriff PALa Gala

  • Art of Giving for The Ponk Fund

  • PwC Grand Priemiere


The Community House 34th annual showcase for Michigan artists, this year held in the late spring instead of the fall, opened with its popular Opening Night Party. The 300 guests ($75 and up tickets) are always challenged to sip, sup, socialize and still wend their way through the house to view all the art (356 pieces by 150 artists) juried into the sales show by Barbara Heller and Melissa Parks. Most gathered in the Wallace ballroom for the program: TCH Donor Relations director Chris Smude proposed a toast in memory of beloved artist / event supporter Connie McEwan; show chair Robert Dempster presided over the cash award presentations to 11 artists: Theresa Lannen, Shirl Hathaway, Jennifer Kroll, Nabeela Najjar, Danna Wolke-Bowersox, David Branch, Karen Buscemi, Alexandra Harris, Kaye Weinberger, Charlotte White, Sharon Will and Vianna Szabo. By evening’s end, 30 pieces of art had been sold. When the show closed two days later, “Day in the City”, an oil painting by Konstantin Savchenko, had won the People’s Choice award. Artists’ entry fees, 35% sales commissions and generous sponsors and benefactors comprise the event proceeds earmarked for youth programs. TCH does not publicly report event proceeds.

1. Co jurors Melissa Parks and Barbara Heller, Chair Robert Dempster

2. Artist / Silver Award winner Jennifer Kroll

3. Committee members / sponsors John & Carol Aubrey, Deborah & John Schrot

4. Committee member Liz DuMouchell, artist / Silver Award winner Danna Wolke-Bowlersox with “Aspiring Towers”, her ceramic sculpture

5. Blue Ribbon award winner Charlotte White, artist / Benefactor Co-Chair Julie Dawson

6. Benefactor Co-Chair John Hoeffler, Cathy Heller, Brad Host

7. Committee member Kathleen & sponsor WRCJ’s Dave Devereaux

8. Patti Koval, Carolyn Rooney Dempster

9. Tom Varbedian, sponsor Lee Miskowski

10. Artist / Blue Ribbon Award winner Karen Buscemi

11. Dawn & Dick Rassel In foreground “One Angle View” by Galina Sarkisian

12. Marjorie Yedlin, artist Link Wachler

13. Creations by Link Wachler Jewelry Designs

14. Artist Laura & Jerry Locke

15. “A Quiet Renunciation” by Laura Locke; fiber and acrylic on wood

16. Models Jenna Ode and Samantha Ebert, fiber artist Nabeela Najjat

17. Artist Heinen Hertling. co-juror Melissa Parks, chair Robert Dempster

18. People’s Choice Award: “Day in the City” by Konstantin Savchenko – oil, 51” x 39”

HAVEN’s 2019 Blossom GALA

The Royal Oak Farmers Market was all gussied up for (and by) the 400 supporters of HAVEN, Oakland County’s only comprehensive program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The dinner tables, silent auction display and wine pull table were as colorful as the women's fashions. The highlights of the program emceed by Glenda Lewis: Troy and Regina Locklear’s acceptance of the Heart of HAVEN Award for their fellow Cooper Standard employees; violence survivor Kelly Erickson’s saga of her journey to safety and her sincere words of great gratitude. Thanks to generous sponsors like Henry Ford Health System, DTE Energy, Kelly Services, Magna International and many others, the Blossom Gala raised $340,000 for the shelter, counseling, advocacy and education programs HAVEN provides to nearly 30,000 each year. HAVEN supporters will next convene for the Sept. 22 Tailgate party at the BAC. See The Calendar for details and ticket information. Blossom Gala raised $340,000 for the shelter, counseling, advocacy and education programs HAVEN provides to nearly 30,000 each year. HAVEN supporters will next convene for the Sept. 22 Tailgate party at the BAC. See The Calendar for details and ticket information.

1. HAVEN trustees Carole Winnard Brumm, sponsor Plante Moran’s Sue Perlin and Terry Merritt, Larry Perlin

2. Heart of HAVEN Award recipients Troy & Regina Locklear for the employees of sponsor Cooper Standard

3. Sponsor Raje R Angamuthu, HAVEN development director Blanca Fauble

4. Foundation trustee / board member / sponsor Pepsi’s Robbin McCain & husband Scott McCain

5. Sponsor Magna International’s Lisa Ross and Cassandra Ingles

6. Oakland University’s Shona Collins and Nicole Thompson

7. Sponsor Crestmark Bank’s Mandi Hill and Teri Haynes

8. Sponsors / board member Suzanne Seitz, Cooper Standard’s Sharon Wenzl and Willis Tower Watson‘s Michelle Acclavatti

9. Presenting sponsor Henry Ford Health System’s Gene Barber, Ray Brown, Ron & Nina Ramsey and Denise Brooks-Williams

10. Robert & committee member Kathy Chiaravalli, sponsors Randall & Machelle McAdor

11. Haven Board member William Keller, sponsor Alderney Advisor’s / former board member Alicia Masse, Dr. Michael Wolf, Tatian Jaacks

12. Sponsor Ascension - St. John Providence’s Cynthia Taueg and Karen Gray-Sheffield

13. Sponsors

14. Sponsors

Women Rock Science

Some 180 supporters of STEAM education for women ($100 & $250 tickets) gathered at the annual Cranbrook Institute of Science cocktail hour fundraiser at the museum. It was chaired by Adele Acheson and Linzie Venegas. DTE Energy’s Trevor Lauer, chairman of the CIS board, commended them and the sponsors. He also profusely praised event co-honoree / 30-year DTE employee Joi Harris. “She just gets it done,” said Lauer. Harris credited her family for her curiosity, for directing her to science programs and for instilling in her the spirit of giving. “DTE shares those values,” she concluded. CIS’ Nancy Swords introduced honoree Angela Englis, an exemplary Detroit Public Schools pre-school teacher, who, despite being a teenage mother “…found a way to persevere.” CEC President Dom DiMarco introduced honoree Ric DeVore, who has long directed the PNC bank resources to CIS programs “…(because) scientific jobs are much more important than mine,” he noted. After the program, Linzie drew the winner of the raffle ($100 tickets). It was Adele, who insisted on a redo. Thus, Patty Ghesquiere won the diamond necklace donated by event sponsor Evermark and exhibitor Greenstone’s Fine Jewelers, where 35 benefactors were hosted prior to the main event. The second annual Women Rock Science evening raised more than $120,000 for CIS outreach initiatives.

1. Sponsors Kelle Illitch and Jodi Trivax

2. CIS board chair / DTE Energy’s Trevor Lauer, CIS Director Mike Stafford, sponsor Forevermark’s Jeffrey Skaret

3. Co-chairs: sponsor Ideal Group’s Linzie Veneges and sponsor Adele Acheson

4. Sponsor Mike Acheson, honoree / sponsor PNC Bank’s Ric DeVore

5. Sponsor Forevermark’s Kristyn Beaursoleil, benefactor event host Greenstone’s Jewelry’s Robert Greenstone

6. Adele Acheson, raffle winner Patty Ghesquiere, Sheryl Briggs

7. Honorees Detroit Public Schools Community District’s Angela English and DTE Energy’s Joi Harris

8. Alma College provost Kathleen Dougherty, Integrative Physiology Alma College professor Karen Ball

9. Honoree Ric DeVore’s grandchildren Brooke, Hayden and Blake Kivimaki

10. Amanda Sinishtaj, Jackson Austin

11. Sponsors

12. Supporters

Live @ First: “Bonhoeffer The Musical” Showcase

Twenty years ago, Dr. Bill and Mary June Wilkinson gifted Birmingham First United Methodist Church with funds to launch a concert series. Bill has since passed away, but he was surely applauding (from on high) the May production, featuring, as it did, a bound-for-Broadway musical with 15 songs composed by their oldest son. Like his father and grandfather, Dr. Scott Wilkinson is an ophthalmologist, but he also has a Masters in Composition and Songwriting from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. And when his wife Jill was intrigued by Eric Metaxis’ biography about Nazi-era theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, she recommended Scott consider the story for his newly honed interest in musical theatre. The overflow crowd (750) at the Concert for a Cause (they have become free-will-donation events for church missions) gave the showcase/concert, essentially a reading with music, a roaring standing ovation. They heard 15, far ranging songs sung by Broadway and local talents, set in locations like Gestapo headquarters and NYC’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. Executive producer of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s North American properties, Ken Davenport, has been working with Scott and his wife Jill, who is Scott’s producer, since “Bonhoeffer, The Musical” won Davenport’s new composer competition over four years ago. Hence, the outstanding production values. At the reception following the Showcase (where Mary June was introducing her new husband Al Schmidt to old friends) many were talking about going to Broadway for the show opening. To get updates on when that might be and to hear some of the songs, go to https://www.bonhoefferthemusical.com/.

1. Three eye doctors: Tom Varbedian, composer / lyricist Scott Wilkinson, Jack Bake

2. Julie Wilkinson Wells, Broadway actress Julia Nitel, Sarah Wilkinson Hughes

3. Lois & John Wilkinson, Mary June & Al Schmidt

4. Broadway veteran Tally Session, regional musician / vocalist Tom Butwin

5. Susie Baker, show producer Jill Wilkinson

Sunset at the Zoo

Sunset at the Zoo, which began decades ago as a private, after hours, thank you affair for members of the Detroit Zoological Society, has grown big time. More than 2,200 ($175 & up tickets) attended the 2019 version presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions. It began early for 400 VIPs in the overlook of the Asian Forest. In addition to spirits and comestibles from 45 purveyors, diversions included entertainment (the Jerry Ross Band, Tom Butwin, Detroit Circus aerial artists), the popular Sunset Keys raffle ($21,000), a silent auction ($38,000) and a live auction conducted by Jonathan Kraft. It raised $57,900, including $28,000 in donations for educational opportunities at the Zoo. Net revenue for the popular soiree ($575,000) will support completion of the renovated and expanded Devereaux Tiger Forest. Two weeks prior to the main event, Suzanne and Sean Werdlow hosted the cocktail hour Benefactor Bash catered by Forte Belanger for 40 DZS loyalists ($750 ticket) on the terrace overlooking the gardens of their Bloomfield hills home. The conversation paused for a very brief live auction conducted with great humor by Rick Platt in which Mario & Shauna Morrow generously paid $1,000 for Breakfast in the Asian Forest. All guests took home a cuddly, red panda from the Zoofari shop.

1. Event host Suzanne Werdlow, Bonnie Larson

2. Event host Sean Werdlow, Stephen & Bobbi Polk

3. Jim & Cathy Rosenthal, Alan Kalter

4. Sunset chairs Shannon & Terry Harvill

5. Diane & Rick Platt, past chairs Ken & Marilyn Way

6. Lee Hart, Bonnie Larson, Charles Dunlap, Sarah Earley

7. Dr. Mark & Peggy Saffer, event host Suzanne Werdlow

8. Mario & Shauna Morrow bought Breakfast in the Asian Garden during brief live auction

9. Glynda Beeman, Mert Segal, Peggy Saffer

10. Eric Jurgen, John Decker, Ira Jaffe

11. DZ’s Scott Carter, Rick Platt

12. DZS’ Alli Badgero, Jim Rein

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation Spring into Style

Harriett Fuller, who developed what has become known as Crohn’s Disease when she was 17-years old and has been in remission for 62 years, is a great role model for young people diagnosed with any of the Irritable Bowel Diseases. More than 50 years ago, the gorgeous octogenarian who is a former model, co-founded the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. It attracted a sold-out crowd ($185 & $285 tickets) to its annual benefit which she also founded. The event featured a silent auction and raffle, Fuller’s presentation of the Care & Cure Award to Connie Colman and 25-year-old law student Sukriti Saxena’s poignant description of living with IBD since she was seven. During lunch Justin Broder’s NUCLASSICA violinists performed and RGA models informally showed apparel from Birmingham’s Lyudviga Couture. The runway show, engagingly commentated by Cheryl Hall Lindsay, featured apparel from Christian LaRue, Max Mara and Nina McLemore, Just Girls, J. McLaughlin, Lilly Pulitzer and Intermix. It was notable for more than one reason. Professional model Lia Ying was concluding her remarkable 40-year modeling career. And amateur models Dana Sorensen and Emme Coleman both have IBD and have been Mission Speakers at previous CCF events. The chic affair at The Townsend, chaired by Milene Pilsko and Teri Spiro, raised $151,000 for research and patient services.

1. Event founder Harriett Fuller, honoree Connie Colman

2. Event chairs Milene Pilsko and Teri Spiro

3. Shobhita Saxena, Glenda Mead, & her future daughter-in-law / mission speaker Sukriti Saxena

4. Mother/daughters: sponsor Katie and Emme Coleman, Amanda and Jeanne Petzold

5. Dana Sorensen & Grant Juth, Ali Restaino

6. Sharon Katz, Anita Taylor

7. Emerald City Designs’ David C McKnight, Margie Kowal

8. Sponsor Shain Park Realtors’ James Cristbrook, Mary Pat Rosen

9. Contessa and Rosemary Bannon

10. Christiane LaRue designer Bonnie Foley

11. Owners of Just Girls Boutique Jill and Katie Oleski

12. Sally Marx, Anna Levin

13. Jeannie Bourget, Valeria Ahlgren

14. Cathy Tellish, Lisa Markou, Rachel Wisman

15. Karen Denha, Erene Bedi

16. Model Shelbie in Christiane LaRue blush silk tulle gown with nude lining/swarovski crystals & silk floral hand- beading/deep-v illusion neckline & marabou feather trim

17. Model Lia Ying Williams in Christiane LaRue – black & scarlet floral print silk Mikado ballgown with black faille strapless deep-v illusion neckline & satin back-bow

18. Model in fashion from Lyudviga Couture

19. Model in fashion from Lyudviga Couture

20. Model in fashion from Lyudviga Couture

21. Sponsors

Sheriff PALa Gala

Sheriff Mike Bouchard started Oakland County Sheriff PAL in 2015 to offer local youth free sports programming throughout the year. Its fourth annual gala attracted a sold-out crowd (400 at $150 ticket) to Pontiac’s historic bank building/now an event venue, The Treasury, for cocktails, dinner, silent and live auction, and an afterglow with 50AmpsFuse. The program emceed by WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford began with a rousing demonstration by PAL cheerleaders before presenting sponsor Flagstar Bank’s Kristi Fercho told guests “…there is no better investment (for the bank’s $20-million) than Pontiac and PAL.” PAL participants were honored. Tony Howard was Coach of the Year; Laura Bowes was Volunteer of the Year; Londyn Mason was Player of the Year. Bouchard also introduced Max, a new canine deputy. Thanks to the live auction ($21,500) conducted by Gregory Bator, the event raised more than $125,000. Generous community partners and sponsors plus the gala and a golf outing have enabled OCS PAL to serve over 1,000 kids. And sponsor Max Out Fitness has added a Fitness and Mentoring program that includes guidance, workouts, and educational trips all around the metro-Detroit area. For more information go to https://www.sheriffpal.com/.

1. Sheriff Mike Bouchard, Justin & Elesia Dunnaskiss

2. Kathy Reason, event co-chair Mandy Ford Smith, Gabrielle Wild

3. Pontiac Council President ProTem Randy Carter, Pontiac Council President Kermit Williams, District 29 State Representative Brenda Carter and Pontiac Councilwoman Mary Pietila

4. Jill Wilkinson, Joy DiCenso, Pam Bouchard

5. Jim & Amy Bostick

6. Sheryl & Bill Jarvis, Ken & Cynde Krstich

Art of Giving

Tom Maniaci’s annual charity soiree attracted 275 generous folks to the Elm Room at Birmingham’s Vinotecca. Many were supporters of Molly MacDonald’s Pink Fund, the event beneficiary. For the second time, having also been the designee for the first event 10 years ago. Guests were intrigued by Matt Richmond’s paper dresses that four models were wearing. Detroit Piston Dancers chatted with guests as they sold raffle tickets. Maniaci’s trademark paint-by-number Frame Your Face canvas beckoned partiers to add their touch. The face of Aretha Franklin sold during the live auction conducted by Charles Wickins for $1,450. The evening raised nearly $17,000 for Pink Fund’s mission of helping breast cancer patients pay bills during treatment.

1. Painting of Aretha Franklin that guests painted-by-number on the Frame Your Face canvas

2. Matt Richmond’s paper dresses on models: Kristi Raukis, Dana Sorensen, (with designer Matt Richmond and event host Tom Maniaci) and Jennifer Gomez and Gianna Marie

PwC Grand Prixmiere

The annual Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear kicked off with the traditional PwC Grand Prixmiere Friday night gala chaired by Sherri and GM’s Ken Kelzer, vice president of Global Hardware Components and Subsystems. The Andiamo dinner was splendid, but a highlight for the 535 guests ($600 ticket) was the Fund-A-Cause pledging. Thanks to Harman International, everyone who pledged at least $500 got a JLB Pulse 3 speaker. And Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Dan and Amy Loepp matched all the pledges, raising more than $60,000. All guests took home a package of Chef Laura Romito’s High 5 Salts made in her Eastern Market kitchen. The evening raised approximately $800,000 for the Belle Isle Conservancy’s improvement projects on the island. Including this year’s total, the Grand Prixmiere has now generated over $4.8 million for the Belle Isle Conservancy in the last six years. A total of $200,000 from the funds raised this year is earmarked for long-term maintenance and operational work to keep the iconic James Scott Memorial Fountain operating on Belle Isle for years to come. Thanks to DTE Energy, the fountain begins operating on Friday of the Grand Prix and runs throughout the summer.

Please submit Social Lights story ideas to SamGerak@AOL.com or 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, MI 8304


by Sally G.

Sally G.

©2019-2020 Sally Gerak