• Sally Gerak

Social Lights March #2, 2020

Updated: Mar 24

Events reported in this issue

  • Marian Benefit Evening

  • Unabashed BASH

  • Cathedral Cultural Series Benefit

  • Tom & Diane Schoenith Valentine Speakeasy

  • Primi Piatti Carnevale

  • Impact100 Oakland County International Women's Day Celebration

Marian Roaring into 2020 Benefit

Marian Benefit Evening chairs Jennifer Waechter and Patti Brozek and their committee moved the annual Mothers’ and Dads’ clubs-sponsored event from the school gym to the Birmingham Athletic Club. Because they reserved the entire club, which was extensively remodeled a year ago, the 300-plus school boosters ($125 ticket) who turned out had plenty of room to party in the Roaring 20s mode. Pre-event parties hosted by alums and parents had secured more than 125 items for the silent auction which raised $34,200. And the short live auction and paddle raise in the main dining room garnered $24,700 and $34,000 respectively. Then music by the Dr. Swift band got people on the dance floor to work off the strolling pasta buffet and bar calories. Thanks also to generous sponsors, the evening raised more than $100,000 for the school’s science program and tuition assistance.


1. Co-chairs / sponsors Jennifer Waechter and Patti Brozek
2. Sponsors Adam Waechter, Mike Brozek and Mike DuBay
3. Head of School Sr. Lenore Pochelski, Lisa Roulo, Julie Morad Natsis, Lindsey Bzdok, Sally Bzdok
4. Sponsor Mike O’Brien, Norm Dickson
5. Amy & Mark Carroll
6. Sponsor Jalenne Timmis
7. Dan & Jen Wetzel, Brenton & Alex Galeano
8.Erin Higdon, Grace Shapero, Olivia DeConinck
9. Kit Shults (foreground), Nancy Schwartz
10. Dr. Swift band: photo from the internet

Birmingham Educational Foundation Unabashed Bash

The annual Birmingham Education Foundation fundraiser attracted 275 ($175, $200 tickets) to the Townsend Hotel to bid in silent and live auctions, dine, dance and applaud when Geri Rinschler received the BEF Legacy Award for her decades of service to Birmingham Public Schools. They also applauded excerpts from the Groves production of “Mama Mia” and tunes by the Seaholm Jazz Band. The 19th annual fundraiser set a new record - $174,318. Since we had a schedule conflict and could not attend this year, we are grateful to Alan Ledford for the following photos.


1. Lory Dolan, honoree Geri Rinschler
2. Lisa & Superintendent Mark Dziatczak
3. Board member Liz & Dan Rito, Dave & board member Catherine Turnbull
4. Lisa & board member Rick Kelley

5. Arnot & Cathy Heller
6. Board member Susan File, Alex Agius, Olivia Zang
7. Andrew & board member Julie Sutherland
8. Alan & board member Kim Whitman
10. Alan & Rebecca Ross
11. Jen Roma, Alison Hendry, Catherine Turnbull, Wendy Christie
12. Auctioneer CK Swett
13. Birmingham Public Schools Central Leadership team
14. BASH sponsors

Cathedral Cultural Series Benefit

Dr. Lourdes Andaya and Cathedral Cultural Series Director Maestro Joe Balistreri share a passion for beautiful music. This they explained to the 100 guests ($100 ticket) gathered at the Golden Harvest Restaurant to celebrate the Chinese New Year and raise some money for Detroit school children to experience the CCS. Since it began in 1974, the best instrumentalists, singers and organists have performed in the grand stone sanctuary of historic Blessed Sacrament Cathedral at concerts which lift hearts, minds, and souls. As Fr. J.J. Mech noted in his blessing before dinner. “Proof of God is the beauty of music.” Likewise, the delicious lauriat, the special occasion feast that began with crab meat & fish maws soup and included walnut shrimp, General Tso chicken, Young Chow fried rice, and vegetable lo mein, to name just a few of the traditional dishes that were served. Before the fortune cookies and sesame balls arrived, young performers from the Michigan Lion Dance Team entertained with their drumming and costumed display. (See a version of the dance at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh1JNHrlXao.) The delightful Sunday afternoon social raised $10,715 for the Cathedral Cultural Series.

1. Dr. Lourdes Andaya, Joe Balistreri, honorary chair Rosemary Bannon, Golden Harvest’s Kelly Zhang

2. CCS Director Joe Balistreri (center), committee members Leo Dovelle (right) & Don Jensen
3. Tom Schoenith, Chris Wilson, Contessa Bannon
4. Michael & Catherine Walker
5. Dick Frayne, Kay & Mickey Wisok
6. Mary Lynn Giovan, Mado Lie
7. Suzanne & Alan Croll, Anne & Mark Pastir
8. Ryan Muencho, Chris Pugh
9. Fr. J.J. Mech, Sarah & Dave Smith
10. Jon Greber & Carole Mihlalo
11. Honorary chair Rosemary Bannon (center), her sister Norma Hakim (left) and cousin Julie Hakim
12. Augustino Gordano (center) with Mary Lynn Giovan, Dr. Lourdes Andaya, Nancy Burrows, Mado Lie
13. Restaurant owners Hoyin Yip, his daughter Vivian Yip & wife Kelly Zhang
14. Michigan Lion Dance Team - Twin lion heads
15. Front view of lion dancer with his “second” cooling him with a fan
16. Front of the lion team member

Schoeniths’ Speakeasy

Quintessential party hosts Tom and Diane Schoenith staged a Valentine’s Night Speakeasy for 250 friends in the Ambassador Ballroom at the Ren Cen Marriott. It was a hoot from beginning to end. The champagne and hors d’oeuvres were passed in the ballroom lobby which was decorated to the nines with Prohibition Era artifacts. These included roaring 20s as well as Great Depression icons. When the door to the ballroom opened, guests were greeted by high energy dancers from Detroit Tap Repertory who got rousing applause as they tapped to “Puttin on the Ritz” and “Making Whoopie.” Guests then found places set at beautiful, long dinner tables dressed in black linen with gold sequined runners and centered with formal candelabra. If there was any bathtub gin available, this reporter did not find it, but guests could consume top drawer hootch and cocktails like Gin Rickey, The Mary Pickford, South Side Fizz and Scofflaw. Two sexy Tango dancers put on a great pre-dinner show. Vintage news reels accompanied by such tunes as “Keep Your Sunnyside Up” and “All that Jazz” provided diversion as guests visited the bountiful food stations. Fare included shrimp & potato soup, lamb chowder, Caesar salad w/white anchovies, beef Wellington, salmon roulade, oysters Rockefeller, jumbo meatballs on herb risotto and sweets such as chocolate cigars, Pavlova, and whoopie pies. The giggle of the night occurred when a toilet-paper launcher redefined the meaning of confetti streamers by throwing rolls of toilet paper in the air to unfurl on partiers. Just as guests were processing this, hundreds of black and white balloons filled with gold, coin-sized sequins dropped from the ceiling. Stomping on them consumed whatever energy people had left. As one departing guest happily exclaimed, “That was wild!”


1. Hosts Tom & Diane Schoenith
2. Lidija & Yuri Grahovac
3. Dr. Mark & Peggy Saffer
4. Tom Young, Linda & George Ellis
5. Caleb Zandstra & Barb Monaghan

6. Leslie & Alan Wagner

7. Julia McEligot, Contessa Bannon, Cindy Heyman
8. Rosemary Bannon, Sharon Katz
9. Larry Walsh, Bonnie Jobe
10. Sonia Ajluni Pastore, Rosette Ajluini

11. Sonia Pastore, her daughter Noel
12. Colleen Hohendorf, Lil Dullinger, Dorothy Corona
13. Terry Erne, Loretta Valentine
14. Carol Minowitz, Rosemary Bannon
15. Detroit Tap Repertory dancer

16. Detroit Tap Repertory dancers
17. Tango dancers Daniel Moreno and Ashley Kalchik
18. Michael Schoenith watching toilet paper launcher
19. Toilet paper everywhere!
20. Balloons everywhere!
21. Stomping balloons
22. What fun!

Carnevale at Primi Piatti

A Facebook invitation from Monica Zamler for the Fat Tuesday Tasting at her Primi Piatti Market on North Old Woodward in Birmingham brought fond memories of a now-defunct-Detroit tradition - the Lundi Gras gala benefiting the Archives of American Art. It enjoyed the support of the area’s movers and shakers and played on a French theme rather than Primi Piatti’s Italian sensibility. Because of the coronavirus-caused cancellation of the Carnevale in Venice, Italy this year, Monica determined to celebrate it at her market. She got out the wonderful Carnevale masks she has collected during her many travels in Italy and guests had fun selecting one to wear while they sipped and sampled her lovingly prepared cuisine. The menu included Gnocchi Bolognese (a potato gnocchi with a meat sauce), Migliaccio di polenta (savory polenta cake with salami and cheese) and, for dessert, Cassatelle di ricotta (a fried ravioli style dough made with citrus rind and limoncello, filled with sweet ricotta.) Guests also browsed the Italian pottery, art and foodstuffs displayed on market shelves. Monica’s hospitality was warm and inviting. And when the coronavirus runs its course, Monica will resume her small-group, personal tours of Italy, where the Birmingham native now owns a home south of Rome. For market info go to www.primipiattimarket.com/.


1. Event host / store proprietor Monica Bisignano Zamler, Lisa Migoski, Jim Bisignano
2. Mike Mikaelian
3. Judy Bisignano. Wilma Haataja

4. Jerry Hutcheson, Jodi Tippins
5. Miho Suzuki
6. Dan & Angie Dobbins
7. Cecilia & Dave Brown, Monica Zamler
8. Pam Emnest

9. Caterina DeFalco (www.ReturnToTheTable.com)
10. Sylvia Avery, Romy Tappero
11. Judy & Jim Bisignano, Monica Bisignano Zamlerv
12. Street side view of Primi Piatti, at end of Harmon Ave. on North Old Woodward

13. The lights were a gift from Nancy Yaw, whose gallery formerly occupied the spacee
14. Vase by Venetian artist Marcantonio Brandolini
15. Ceramic-topped bottle stoppers

Impact100 International Women’s Day Celebration

Aly Mandeville reports that 150 women attended the International Women’s Day Celebration hosted by Impact100 Oakland County at II Gather, a women-owned special events venue in Auburn Hills. They sipped lavender lemonade & Rosemary gimlets by Miss Mixology; supped on pasta primavera, pasta Bolognese, antipasto spread, sausage/peppers/Italian meatballs by Andiamo & Joe Muer; and networked. They also heard Impact100 Model founder Wendy Steele (who was introduced by past Impact100 OC president Mary Pat Rosen) speak about the power of collective giving. “One woman. One donation. One vote,” said she, inspiring 10 more women to write the $1,000 check to join. New members may get in on selecting the 2020 grantee non-profit organizations by joining by March 31. To do so go to https://www.impact 100oaklandcounty.org /membership-dues.


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