• Sally Gerak

Social Lights Jan. #2, 2020

In this issue:

  • London Chop House Salvation Army Benefit

  • Alternatives For Girls Holiday High Tea

  • Christ Child Society Home Tour

  • Preservation Bloomfield Friends Reunion

  • Kidney Ball

  • St. Lucia Dinner

London Chop House Salvation Army Benefit

From the Salvation Army Brass Band welcome at the London Chop House entrance to the final strains of “Deck the Halls” sung by some of the 83 luncheon guests ($250-ticket), the scene in the iconic, subterranean eatery was joyful. The eighth annual reiteration of the legendary Salvation Army benefit was again hosted by the Gatzaros Family (Maria, Nico and Ellena) and Tom and Diane Schoenith. This year, Caleb Zandstra beat out co-host Tom as the male, fashion head turner in his red and white holiday suit with twinkling light accents. WJR’s Paul W. Smith emceed the frivolity that featured lots of table hopping, group singing and impeccable Chop House service from a limited menu of classic dishes. The midday event raised more than $31,500, including some donations Katie Valenti snagged as she table hopped. Donations for the army’s critical social services for the needy may always be made at www.salmich.org or by calling call 1-877-SAL-MICH.

1. Barb Monaghan & Caleb Zandstra

2. Co-host Diane Schoenith, Lidija Grahovac

3. Co-host Tom Schoenith, Lucia Zurkowski, Doug Grech

4. Contessa Bannon, Dr. Lourdes Antaya, Rosemary Bannon
5. Katie & Sam Valenti

6. David & Ann Levy, Jennifer & Todd Callewaert

7. Jane Manoogian, Mary Callewaert

8. Valeria Straith, Susie Lambrecht

9. Bob & Mary Ann Bury

10. Kim & emcee Paul W. Smith

11. Volunteer carolers

Holiday High Tea Benefiting Alternatives For Girls

Event founder Shirley Maddalena and co-host Francois Colpron welcomed more than 120 supporters of Alternatives For Girls to the Townsend Hotel (Tea Lobby, Lobby and Rugby Grill) for the popular holiday gathering. One of the guests, Val Cheyne, has been attending since Shirley organized the inaugural tea for the hotel’s first Christmas season in 1988. Many, like Linda Bomberski, have been to most since then. Transplanted Californian (thanks to her husband’s switch from Amazon to Ford) Tricia Stone was attending her first. In addition to the hotel’s extraordinary savories, sweets and teas, guests also “shopped” the display of 50-plus, donated silent auction items, including jewelry and home accents. The event raised nearly $13,000 to give homeless young women a safe place to learn and grow. Comerica Bank’s Monica Martinez and OpTech’s Ronia Kruse are chairing AFG’s big fundraiser - the Role Model Dinner - 5:30 pm, Thursday, March 26 at the Ren Cen Marriott. It will honor Ilitch Enterprises’ Denise Ilitch, Detroit Water Department’s Palencia Mobley and Flagstar Bank’s Laura Chavez Wazeerud-Din. For sponsorships and tickets ($200) go to alternativesforgirls.com.

1. Co-hosts Shirley Maddalena (event founder) and Francois Colpron with her daughter Clara Schwyn

2. Mother-Daughter duos: Robbie and Ella Reynolds, Arden and Jenny Sterling

3. Alternatives For Girls CEO Amy Good (center) getting acquainted with first time tea guests Colleen McDonald (left) and Tricia Stone
4. Rhonda Welsh, board member Marlene Martell, Caroline Chin

5. Veteran event supporter Linda Bomberski with Michelle Vanderheyden and Betsy Reich
6. Kay Ponicall, Madeline Turner, Terri Webster, Kimberly Adamski, Mary Joliat

7. Sandra Stacy, Tammy Speir

Christ Child Society Christmas Home Tour

The Christ Child Society annual home tour that also offers boutique shopping and brunch at Birmingham Country Club attracted 600 ($75 ticket). Many we interviewed consider the event a not-to-miss tradition. The country club staff does a great job keeping the brunch buffet bountiful throughout the two-and-a-half-hours it is available and the vendors bring unique, appealing wares for gift shopping. But the homes that are open for touring are always the sine qua non of the affair and this year was no exception. Event chairs Julie Hamaty, Julie Wells and Amy Gooch and their savvy committee enlisted the generous owners of five exceptional homes. Katie Parks’ in Bloomfield Village, built in 1927 by Judson Bradway as his daughter’s wedding gift, was sprinkled with Christmas spirit throughout each of the four levels and showcased three generations of furnishings and holiday ornaments. Renee Lossia Acho’s Irving Tobocman designed, Bloomfield Village home, featured modern art accenting a sprawling open floor plan and a remarkable kitchen island for gathering round. Gordie and Katie Coleman’s, also in the Village, was warm and inviting with unique wall coverings, beautiful wide plank wood flooring and intriguing displays of collectibles. Karl and Sarah Zimmerman’s Village home is a Hunter Rogers stone classic that looks old but lives new with a fabulous bunk room and a master suite overlooking a stunning pool. Roy and Lisa Luttmann’s Birmingham home featured a noteworthy blend of antiques and original art, including many works by Lisa’s mother, Marty Sinn. The event, one of the few remaining home tours in the B/B area, raised $46,000 for the Christ Child Society’s programs that serve children at risk.

1. Sponsors / event co-chairs Julie Hamaty and Julie Wilkinson Wells. Co-chair not pictured Amy Gooch
2. Check in crew: committee member / sponsor Bess Paradiso, committee member Liz Lee, Megan Jones
3. Kaylin Blake, immediate past president Laura Keziah
4. Mother-Daughter duos: Mary Ann and Pat O’Leary, Judy Bonner and Jen Bonner Simpson
5. Liz Runyon, Clare Pollard, Cara Antonini Howe
6. Pat May and Susie Wilkinson checking out the merchandise at Marilyn’s Fashion Clothing / Accessories booth
7. Diane Roelant, Kim Thoresen, Bev Warr
8. Son-Mother duo: Matt and Mary Jo Meso on their annual Home Tour date
9. Mother-daughter duo: Joanne Love and Suzanne Love Beck
10. Carol Grombala, Mary Pat Stacey, docent chair Marie Dowler and Kaitlin Dowler after they did their docent duties at the tour homes
11. Lynda North, Anne Lichtenberg, past president Shonda Patterson
12. Merrill Petersen, Carole Sussex
13. Home of Katie Parks
14. Close-up of banister in home of Katie Parks
15. View of kitchen island in home of Renee Lossia Acho
16. View of living room in home of Renee Lossia Acho
17. Home of Katie & Gordie Coleman
18. View of dining room in home of Katie & Gordie Coleman
19. Home of Sarah & Karl Zimmerman

20. View across great room in home of Sarah & Karl Zimmerman
21. Home of Lisa & Roy Luttmann
22. View of art-flanked fireplace in home of Lisa & Roy Luttmann
23. Event sponsors

24. Event sponsors

Preservation Bloomfield Friends Christmastime Reunion

More than a decade ago, when Preservation Bloomfield was a fledgling organization formed to get the historic Barton Farmhouse from Long Lake Road to the Bowers Farm campus, members of its Friends group expended countless hours and clever creativity to stage Christmas-themed benefits. (The Gingerbread Brunch and its preview children’s party were expansive, exhausting endeavors.) The fundraising focus has since changed, but the holidays were a great excuse for the annual meeting which brought 60 supporters to a brunch at the Heathers Club chaired by Pat Hardy and Contessa Bannon. In addition to kudos for outgoing president Mia Materka, the main take away was the “Place Making” vision of Alan Jaros, the new director of the Bowers Farm. With slides and contagious enthusiasm, he described a master plan for the 90-acre farm campus which would be a “…foundation for community.” For an e-visit to the existing farm go to SchoolFarm.org.

1. Linda Kmit, Contessa Bannon
2. Mary Barton Letts, outgoing Friends president Mia Materka with her thank you gift

3. Friends founder Pat Hardy, outgoing Friends president Mia Materka, pioneer Friends volunteer Carol Shaya
4. Guest speaker / Bowers Farm Director Alan Jaros, Preservation Bloomfield board president Mike Dul

5. Judy Kelliher, Mary Lou Kopmeyer, Caroline Rooney Dempster
6. Karen Mellott, Duffy Wineman

7. Friends co-founder Sue Nine, pioneer supporter Lisa Beck
8. Farm supporter Carolyn Noble, Slouchy Hat creator Margot Gilbert, Mary Stecko

Kidney Ball

The annual Kidney Ball, co-chaired by Dr. John Magee, Duane McLean and Scott LaRiche, returned to the Marriott Ren Cen where it was first held 15 years ago. Nearly 500 supporters ($350 ticket) of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan turned out for the fun fund raising. Before dinner they cocktailed and “shopped” the huge silent auction (250-plus items) which included the always popular kids area stocked with stuff suitable for Santa’s sleigh. Loyal Steve Garagiola again emceed the program which, before the spirited live auction, spotlighted two heroes. One was nine-year-old Jaxson Scott, who lost the use of his legs at one-year, received a new kidney in August 2018 donated by his mother, and inspired his family and friends to form the Team Jaxson team to raise money at the Detroit Zoo Kidney Walk. Another was retired nephrologist Dr. Paul Smith who received the 2019 NKFM Kidney Crusader Award for his many years of patient care, advocacy and service on the foundation's Scientific Advisory Board. Guests concluded the evening by dancing to Your Generation in Concert and indulging at the popular candy store display and the Coney station. Thanks also to many generous sponsors and donations, the gala raised more than $430,000 to help the 1-million-plus Michiganders with kidney disease.

1. Co-chair Dr. John Magee, honoree Dr. Paul Smith
2. Co-chair / Detroit Tigers’ Duane McLean, committee member Carole Ilitch

3. Dawn & co-chair Scott LaRiche, vice president Lou LaRiche Chevrolet
4. Henry Ford Health Systems’ David & Julie Shepherd, NKFM Pres/CEO Linda Smith-Wheelock, committee member / past chair Myra Moreland

5. Emcee Steve Garagiola, Kidney Kid Jaxson Scott, his mother Grace Yount
6. Laurie Tannous, sponsorship chair Patrick Rugiero

7. Deb & committee member Loren Venegas
8. Maryann Cromwell and Stan Vogler

9. Paul & Mary Glantz
10. Oronde & committee member Rita White

11. Jackson Moreland, Nicole Roberts
12. Just a few of the many sponsors

St. Lucia Dinner

The tradition of celebrating St. Lucia Day with a procession, songs and dancing is observed in many countries around the world, including Sweden. The star of the procession, a young woman wearing a crown of glowing candles, personifies light, a rare commodity on the year’s darkest day (the December solstice), especially in northern Scandinavian countries. Detroit area Swedes have been continuing the tradition since 1937. In its heyday, back when the King of Sweden visited Detroit in 1976 and indefatigable ad man Ernie Jones was active in the Detroit Swedish Council, the Jenny Lind Club’s Lucia Dinner soiree was a black-tie event that attracted 200 people and was headlines on the society pages. The December 2019 version was more modest. It attracted some 50 people to The Village Club. Lucia was played by Katie Lundberg Church, whose mother, Celia Berker (Lundberg) Jordan, had been so honored in 1972. And it was a four-generation event for nonagenarian Ingrid Berge, who had been Lucia in her native Sweden town’s celebration in 1943. Her cadre at the recent dinner included her daughter, Tina Berge Clements, (the 1974 Lucia), her grandson Colin Clements and her great grandchildren, Caden and Caroline Clements, who were in the procession. True to the tradition, all in the procession made descriptive contributions to the story of St. Lucia (actually an early Christian martyr) and sang Swedish songs. Before the evening ended all celebrated their heritage by doing the Swedish “long dance” around the room.

1. Principals in the Lucia procession: Rachael Kurshner (back left), Katie Lundberg Church, Malin Andersson, Asa Huffaker; Caden Clements (front left) Juliana Epperson, Caroline Clements, Ella Epperson

2. Close up of the 2019 Lucia, Katie Lundberg Church, selected to honor her late grandmother, Margareta Berker, a longtime supporter of the Detroit Swedish Council

3. Abbigale Riopelle Clements, her husband’s grandmother Ingrid Mörck Berge, longtime member of the Detroit Swedish Council
4. Ingrid Mörck Berg as Lucia for Vasteras, Sweden in 1943
5. The 1975 Lucia, Tina Berge Clements (back left) and her son Colin Clements, his children Caroline and Caden Clements

6. Missy & Honorary Swedish Consul Tom Mark, Clara Davis
7. The 1972 Lucia / 2019 Lucia’s mother Celia Berker (Lundberg) Jordan, and her late mother Margareta Berker in a picture circa 1980

8. The 1965 Lucia procession participants: Karen Warner, Karin Christiansen, Sandra Erickson, Cheri Moore (Lucia), Barbara Brogren, Chrystine Jones

Please send ideas for Social Lights to SamGerak@aol.com

or to 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304.


by Sally G.

Sally G.

©2019-2020 Sally Gerak