Social Lights Feb. #1 , 2019
Updated: Feb 1
Events reported in this issue:
- Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums
- Katie Valenti's Toast to the Season
- Gale Colwell's 60th Anniversary Cookie Exchange
- Assistance League of Southeast Michigan Mistletoe Marketplace
- Detroit Historical Society Ball
Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums
The PAVM, founded in 1983 in California and New York, now comprises local chapters in 16 states and nine countries. Members, through their annual membership donations and by participating in Chapter-sponsored fundraising events, support the restoration, preservation, and conservation of what is possibly the greatest collection of sacred art in the entire world. The Michigan chapter’s annual Advent Evening of Fellowship attracted 50 people ($150 ticket) to Bloomfield Hills Country Club following Mass in the Stone Chapel at St. Hugo of the Hills. Coordinated by Beth Moore, the delightful evening featured a social hour, a gourmet dinner and an interesting discussion with slides by DIA conservators Aaron Steele and Ellen Hanspach-Bernal of work ongoing to Bruegel’s The Wedding Dance. It was completed in 1566 and lost for many years until DIA Director William Valentiner discovered it at an auction in 1930. He bought it (with city funds) for $37,075. That’s upward of $500,000 in today’s dollars. “Thank goodness Detroit (bought it),” said Steele. In his welcome remarks, Michigan PVAM co-chair Tony Rea also reminded all that a Michigan chapter project - the restoration of the first Popemobile to be used by a sitting Pontiff - is nearing completion. When completed there will be a local exhibition of the priceless, made-in-Detroit, 1929 Graham Paige automobile. PAVM memberships range from $75 for associates to $600 per year and offer benefits up to guided, private tours of the Vatican Museums and VIP seating at the Wednesday Papal Audience. For more information call Michigan membership Maureen Soens at 248-842-5126 or go to http://www.patronsvaticanmuseums.org/.
Katie Valenti's Toast to the Season
During another Advent Evening (at the Academy of the Sacred Heart), philanthropist Katie Valenti was inspired to invite friends from that charity scene to a Bellini-splashed afternoon social. They were joined by others, including some Katie invited during the London Chop House Salvation Army benefit luncheon. Guests of honor were longtime ASH Head of School Sr. Meg Canty, visiting from afar, and current ASH Head of School Damian Hermann. Katie also asked Elizabeth Brazilian to tell the assembled about her pet non-profit, Child Safe Michigan’s adoption, mentoring and foster care programs. But mostly the affair was just an excuse to wish the joy of the season to new and old friends.
A 60th annual Holiday Happening
Speaking of the season’s joy, in 1960, the first Christmas that New England native Gale Colwell celebrated in Michigan as the new bride of Birmingham native Doug Colwell, she invited the few women she knew to lunch at her home to exchange homemade Christmas cookies. The years went by and the guest list grew as Gale’s circle of friends enlarged to include friends from the Junior League of Birmingham, which she later served as president. And then from the ranks of their three children’s friends’ parents, fellow Village Club and Orchard Lake Country Club members and from The Community House, where Gale was the Executive Director. Guests always marveled that, despite Gale’s busy schedule, her home was decorated like a Home for the Holidays magazine spread. And the buffet lunch she prepared would do Julia Childs proud. The decades saw changes. People moved, died, were widowed, remarried. And Gale’s Cookie Exchange Luncheon invitation kept coming and included newer friends. After the 2018 gathering, artist Julie Dawson determined that the 60th anniversary was a milestone that should feature a surprise thank you for Gale. (Julie and Gale had first met in 1959 when Julie was National Field Director for Delta Gamma sorority and Gale was the Denison University chapter president. They reconnected anew after Julie moved to Birmingham and was asked by the late Neva Moyer in 1984 to start the Artists of the Month exhibition program at The Community House.) Email communications resulted in luncheon guests (past and present) delivering to Julie unique items appropriate to decorate the large, all-season, twig wreath she created. The wreath presentation at the luncheon totally surprised Gale. That several guests, including Gale’s daughter Robyn, came from afar had not made the hostess suspicious. Wreath decorations included photos and miniature souvenirs of shared experiences. Julie also created a scarf for Gale and packets of note cards for everybody containing an image of the gift wreath. Gale was visibly moved and nearly speechless. Everybody lingered in joyful friendship. Except Robyn. She had to catch a plane back to Chicago. The next day she was hosting a cookie exchange at her Winnetka, IL home.
Mistletoe Market Place
The final 2019 holiday event to report herein is the 16th annual Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan fundraiser chaired by Mary Ebert and Vincetta Nicosia. It attracted more than 730 to The Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township. In addition to lunching, they socialized, shopped at boutiques, bought raffle tickets, bid in the silent auction and saw a strolling fashion show featuring merchandise from the league’s ReSale Connection shop. The luncheon program featured league president Cindy Guerrieri and, talking about the league’s Operation School Bell program, honorary chair Fox 2’s Monica Gayle and Barton Elementary School Rosa Glover-Adams. Both described the joy and increased self-esteem the students derived by selecting new clothing provided by the program. The annual event raised nearly $110,000 for the league’s philanthropies which strengthen communities by transforming the lives of children and adults. For more information about the non-profit, including its next fundraiser - a pre-release screening of Disney Pixar’s “Onward” - Sunday, March 1 at Rochester Hills’ Emagine Theatre, go to www.semich.AssistanceLeague.org.
Detroit Historical Society Ball
Snowstorm-caused anxiety did not deter most of the 255 dinner ticket holders ($500, $850) from making it to the DHS Break the Bank soiree in the Dan Gilbert-rescued, historic, State Savings Bank building in Detroit's financial district. Cocktail hour diversions included gazing at the remarkable architecture, checking out the huge vault, bidding $14,000 in the silent auction of three dozen offerings and comparing Christmas vacation notes. (The date change - from December to January after the auto show moved to June - proved to be a happy decision. It will be repeated in 2021.) Leslye Rosenbaum was a head turner in a white fox jacket and pink satin gown. “That’s what my favorite Barbie doll wore,” confided Annette Kolon. Following dinner, outgoing, 10-year board chair Tom Buhl, who received the 2020 Moving Forward award, praised the DHS staff and board. His successor John Decker thanked the sponsors profusely and noted the huge challenges Buhl had surmounted. A brief live auction then brought in more than $17,000 and the Paddle Raise garnered $42,000 for summer camperships thanks to a match by the Ford Motor Company Fund. As many of the dinner guests left for home, another 124 After Party guests ($75) arrived to dance to music by Sean Blackman in Transit musicians. The annual gala raised more than $230,000 for museum operations and educational initiatives.
Please send ideas for this column to SamGerak@aol.com
or to 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304.
(Unfortunately, arthritis prevents Sally G from texting.)