• Sally Gerak

Social Lights Dec.#2, 2019

Events reported in this issue with sincere wishes that you all enjoy blessed holidays.

  • FAR, Friends and Fa-La-La

  • Angels Place Annual Dinner

  • Habitat for Humanity Oakland Fall Gala

  • Lighthouse Dancing with the Detroit Stars

  • Alzheimer;s Association Chocolate Jubilee

  • Charlotte's Wings Annual Benefit

  • Bloomfield Charity Antiques & Collectibles Show

FAR, Friends and Fa-La-La

The annual showcase for the talents and therapists of FAR brought 675 to the Seligman Performing Arts Center at DCDS. The show included 12 scenes set in different locations around the world. One of the highlights was the scene in which five FAR clients danced with a proud parent as celebrity tenor John Reisen sang “Hollywood” by Michael Bublé. The performance paused three times to honor extraordinary supporters of the FAR mission: Detroit Country Day School, Glenn Currin and, in absentia, Ciara Brennan. And, as he does each year, former Fox 2 reporter / now a-writer-of-novels Alan Lee returned from California to emcee the show. Some 150 guests arrived early for the Pre-Glow ($150-ticket) catered by Annabel Cohen and many stayed for the After-Glow party where donuts were displayed for the taking on a wall courtesy of Dale Hollandsworth and Jim Kidder. The FAR Bazaar of handmade giftables also provided diversion. The 19th annual event raised $110,000 for the non-profit, non-sectarian agency that provides creative arts and recreational therapies to 1,300 community residents with special needs. FAR supporters are now planning ahead for the popular Sing Out event which Anna Gianmarco and Glenn Charest are chairing April 24 at the Townsend.


1. Event co-chairs Brandy Lee and Julie Kowalik

2. Wendy and sponsor United Aerospace’s Glen Charest, FAR president Pamela Ayres
3. Honoree Glenn & Gail Currin
4. Honoree Detroit Country Day School’s Jim Lewis and Glenn Schilling
5. Board vice chair Karen Ebben, Roz Cooperman, Evelyn Cadicano, Tonya Hutchison, board vice chair Brooke Kircher
6. Board member Kate Burton and board chair / sponsor Karolina Powalka
7. Board member John Ashcraft, Dave (holding a foster child) & board member Wendee Haugh
8. Diane & board treasurer Harold Meloche
9. Craig & Jean Riesen, their son / tenor John Riesen

10. Scott Baumgartner, Christina Phillips, Janet & Ken Pound
11. Anne Navarre, Liana Peterson, Rebecca King
12. Vicki & Gregg Bockart

13. Barbara Darga and Barbara Jonas with examples of art sold at the FAR Bazaar
14. Ava Connell contemplating the After-Glow goodies Photo credit: Dale Hollandsworth
15. Sponsors

16. Event theme - program art

Angels Place Annual Dinner

The Angels Place choir, directed by Kellie Evans Rao, kicked off the program at The Henry Hotel. The singers earned a standing ovation for their rendition of “When You Believe”. Then celebrity guest Amy Grant, sat on a stool and played the guitar, singing songs like “Everybody Needs a Helping Hand” and “My Father’s Eyes.” She interspersed them with warm, personal stories like one about a 12-year old, Make-A-Wish kid who had cerebral palsy. He told her, “Amy, I’m normal on the inside.” The 670 guests ($225 ticket) also gave her a standing ovation. Some 350 of them had been at the early Patron Party ($350 ticket) where the singer smilingly posed for pictures with guests. This 27th annual benefit dinner, chaired by Kelly and Jim Nagle and Jim and Kathy Remski, raised nearly $400,000 for the lifetime care in a Christian environment of developmentally challenged people. There was a moment of silence in memory of Jeff Joliat, one of the pioneer AP residents. In the 1970s he was a popular fan at Birmingham Little League baseball games.


1. Co-chairs / sponsors Jim & Kathy Remski
2. Co-chairs / sponsors Kelly & Jim Nagle

3. Suzanne Dietz, invitation & program artist Kathleen Chisholm McInerney, celebrity guest Amy Grant, Carol Chisholm
4. Pat Palmer, Allyson Bakewell

5. Rosemary Ledwidge, sponsor Loretta Nagle (an AP co-founder), Jimmy Banyai

6. John & Sue Zessin, sponsors / host committee members Gwen & Doug North

7. Pat Thull, host committee members Paul & Diane Widlak

8. Richard Connell, Kathy & John Brennan, Mara Hart Filo

9. Pam Racine, Patti Jessup, Dawn Fretter, host committee member Lynn Gates

10. Host committee members Nora Hamill and Jack McInerney

11. Steve Racine, sponsor Tim Gates, Howard Fretter
12. Host committee member Bob Babinski, Karen Murphy
13. Adam Widlak, Kristin Widlak, Keller & Debra McGaffey

14. Sandie Knollenberg, Bob Storen

15. Kathleen McInerney’s invitation and program cover art. The original was a gift to singer Amy Grant

Habitat for Humanity Oakland Fall Gala

Some 350 supporters ($185 & $265 ticket) of Habitat for Humanity Oakland gathered at the Troy Marriott for cocktails, dinner, a live auction and pledging conducted by Jim Miller. WDIV's Priya Mann emceed the program which was notable for spoken word poet Adán Bean’s rap-like performance. (Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8HAysruLog to see a video of his performance that inspired Habitat Oakland CEO Tim Ruggles to invite him to perform at the Troy event.) It also honored Level One Bank's Timothy Mackay as Community Builder of the year, Sean Stillwell as Volunteer of the Year and Vell Grandberry as Homeowner of the Year. The event raised more than $160,000 for Habitat’s programs that help people own affordable homes. For more information go to https://www.habitatoakland.org.

1. Community Builder Awardee / sponsor Level One Bank’s Tim & Tricia MackayV

2. Volunteer of the Year Sean Stillwell and his daughter Jessica
3. Carol Brown & Homeowner of the Year Vell Grandberry

4. Sponsor Trevarrow’s Elizabeth & Matt Ferry

5. Sponsor Bank of Ann Arbor’s Rachel & AJ Thompson
6. Sponsor Bank of Ann Arbor’s Selva Chalabi, Stephanie Wellcome and Julie Giordano

7. Deb Bertram, HHO CEO Tim Ruggles & Karen Pruess

8. Host committee member Kelly Hyde and her daughter Buffy with the birdhouse Buffy and Brandon Woods, Jr decorated for the live auction. It sold for $700.

9. Katie, Jim & host committee member Susie Brumfield

10. Dave Struble, Karen Pruess, David Rush, Ann Duke

11. Volunteer of the Year Sean Stillwell’s parents Ralph Stillwell and Miriam Stillwell

12. Volunteer of the Year Sean Stillwell’s fan club: Jackie Elmer, Jodi Busch, Diane Schulte, Shannon Winsted, Mollie Hackman
13. Alicia Bassett, David Talbert
14. Billie Calabro, Sandra Rhadigan, Jill Leratz-Antone, Nicole Nahodil

15. Kristin & Brandon Stewart

16. Celebrity guest / spoken word poet Adán Bran Photo credit: Lindsay Schweickert
17. Sponsors

18. Sponsors

Dancing with the Detroit Stars

There was a lot of applause in the Townsend ballroom the night more than 250 supporters of Lighthouse gathered there for the 11th annual Dancing with the Detroit Stars fundraiser. Even before the dance show, people gave Dr. Harry Maisel a standing ovation when CEO Ryan Hertz announced that Maisel would match the first $25,000 people pledged to fight homelessness. (This raised a total of $85,000). They gave Bonner Upshaw a rousing ovation when he gave his flashy, sequined jacket to the cause. They enthusiastically applauded the five competitors - Jennifer Granger, Dr. Rami Essak, Marina Lagocha, Rabbi Rachel Shere and Brooke Miller and their professional partners. The judges - Rod Alberts, Bill Cook, Erika Erickson and Treger Strasberg - had a difficult task picking a winner. But they did decide on Miller, founder and CEO of Honey Space for Moms, who actually included her two young daughters in the routine with Arden Sarver. They also cheered when emcees Fox 2’s Taryn Asher & WDIV’s Jason Carr announced that Rabbi Shere raised the most money in the online pledging ($67,986). Thanks also to the silent auction that raised $10,394 and generous sponsors, the 11th annual event raised $230,000. And thanks to messages conveyed on video screens around the room, it also raised awareness of the Lighthouse mission - to build communities that end poverty.


1. Lighthouse CEO Ryan Hertz, Chief Development Officer Russ Russell, event chairs / sponsor Flagstar Bank’s / board treasurer Jim & Liz Ciroli

2. Sponsors Liz & board chair / sponsor Flagstar Bank’s Jim Lambrecht

3. John Goldstein, committee member / sponsor Robin Schwartz, board member / sponsor Harry Maisel

4. Sponsor Great Heights Charitable Fund’s Gale Lawson, Erica Lawson, Erika & Andy Bocknek
5. Past chairs / sponsors Bill & Jennie Cook, Paul Sabatini, Tammy & sponsor DADA’s Rod Alberts (Bill & Rod were dance contest judges.)
6. Sponsors Carol & board vice chair Rich Lewnau and Susan Wellman

7. Sponsor Dominion’s Eric & Els Banks, sponsors Kathy & Larry Goss, a Lighthouse pioneer

8. Sponsor / event founder / 10-year co-chair Jennie Cook, dancer Jennifer Granger

9. Jonathan & Dana Burleigh
10. Emcees Fox 2’s Taryn Asher & WDIV’s Jason Carr

11. Jennifer Toma, Tanya Habbo, dancer Marina Lagocha & Marat Kadyrov

12. Dancer Brooke Miller and her daughters Gisele and Pearl

13. Professional dancers Jessica Devries, Meghan VonZurMuehlen and Arden Sarver

14. Bonner Upshaw (wearing sequined jacket that someone bought for a $1,000 donation to Lighthouse)

15. Dance judges Treger Strasberg and Fox 2’s Erika Erikson (Both are dance contest winners)

16. Sarah Thompson and Make A Wish Michigan’s Julie Pendell
17. Ray Thomas, Melanie Neddow

18. Vivian Pickard leading Jennifer Granger’s “fan club” Photo credit: KGT Photographic

19. Jennifer Granger Photo credit: KGT Photographic

20. Marina Lagocha and Clive Phillips Photo credit: KGT Photographic

21. Rabbi Rachel Shere, Jeremiah Childers Photo credit: KGT Photographic

22. Dr. Rami Essak, Megan VonZurMuehlen Photo credit: KGT Photographic

23. In back, Arden Sarver, Brooke Miller and her daughters Gisele and Pearl Photo credit: KGT Photographic

24. Biggest fundraising dancer Rabbi Rachel Shere and Lighthouse CEO Ryan Hertz Photo credit: KGT Photographic

25. Judges choice winners: Arden Sarver, Brooke Miller, Lighthouse CEO Ryan Hertz, (in front) Pear and Gisele Miller Photo credit: KGT Photographic

26. Post show dancing by party guests to music by DJ Prevu Photo credit: KGT Photographic

27. Major sponsors

28. Bronze sponsors

Alzheimer’s Association Chocolate Jubilee

The 35th annual Chocolate Jubilee attracted more than 500 ($200 - $2,500 tickets) to the MGM Grand to hear professional skateboarder, entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Hawk speak about the distressing impact of his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. They also wined, dined, danced and filled take home bags with samples from 19 generous confectionaries. Bill and Marlene Emerson underwrote the Jade Anniversary event which raised more than $1.25-million to provide research and services to the 138,000 Michigan residents and their families struggling with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.


1. Celebrity guest Tony Hawk (center) with event underwriters Bill and Marlene Emerson Photo credit: Christine MJ Hathaway

Charlotte’s Wings Annual Benefit

More than 350 people ($150 ticket) gathered at the Royal Park Hotel for the annual Charlotte’s Wings Benefit chaired by Andrea Myrick and Larissa Thompson. They socialized, sipped, supped and danced to music by the high energy SpaceCat band. The dinner program had highlights: Joanne Tarling, whose infant daughter’s death inspired the establishment of the organization, noted that the 25,000 books CW donated to hospitals in the past year brings the total to more than 114,000; Executive Director Jennifer Buck received the Rose Award for her dedication ever since starting the all-volunteer organization in 2008; keynote speaker Kasey Buschmohle, who was a Charlotte's Wings volunteer when her daughter required hospitalization, spoke about comforting her by reading a CW-donated book. Charles Wickins then cajoled guests to bid $20,450 for 10 live auction items and to pledge $18,200 to update the Children’s Hospital of Michigan library. Thanks also to a silent auction ($23,000) and generous sponsors, the 12th annual event raised $106,000. Credit for photos 1 - 5: Luana Nakano of Naknastudios.com.


1. Co-chair Andrea Myrick, keynote speaker / volunteer Kasey Buschmohle, co-chair Larissa Thompson
2. Jason Buck & CW founder / executive director / honoree Jennifer Buck

3. The organization namesake Charlotte’s mother / board member Joanne Tarling

4. Charlotte’s Wings Youth Council: Caroline Buck, Will Buck, Sam Tarling, Nick Napolitano, Brooke French, Nina Kusterer, Taylor French, Katelyn Sliwinski, Olivia Tarling, Lauren Holt, Brendan Holt, Tyler Jasky

5. Guests of Diamond Sponsor National Coney Island

6. Sponsors

Bloomfield Charity Antiques & Collectibles Show

Marilyn Nix, chair of the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church’s Bloomfield Charity Antiques & Collectibles Show, reports that some 800 attendees perused the wares of 35 Mid-West dealers during the 56th annual event which raised $30,000. This will be divided between two Christ-centered organizations that bring God’s love to those in need - Grace Centers of Hope and Oakland Hope. The 57th show is planned for October 16-17, 2020 at the church, located at Telegraph and Lone Pine Road.


Please send ideas for Social Lights to SamGerak@aol.com or to 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304.

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by Sally G.

Sally G.

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