• Sally Gerak

Social Lights Oct. #1, 2019

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

In this issue

  • Hall & Hunter Estate Sale Benefiting Habitat for Humanity

  • Oakland Literacy Council Picnic in the Park

  • Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber Vine & Dine

  • Parade Company Grand Jester Reception

  • Meadow Brook Hall Wild Game Dinner

  • Oktoberfest at The Community House

  • Polish the Jewel Benefactor Party

Hall & Hunter Realtors Charity Estate Sale

This event is such a natural partnership it has been going on for 14 years. Many people who sell their homes are happy to have the less fortunate clients served by Habitat receive the proceeds of the sale of their unwanted possessions. Habitat volunteer Johnna Struck owns Changing Places Moving Company which picks up and stores the donations throughout the year. Several days before the sale, a big tent is erected on the Hall & Hunter parking lot, the donations are delivered and Pam Gray, Gillian Lazar and crew, with help from auctioneer / appraiser Lori Stefek, arrange and price the loot for the one-day sale. Friday evening before the sale, Hall & Hunter and Habitat people, their spouses, friends and event sponsors convene to socialize, sip, sup, preview the sale merchandise and maybe buy (paying a 30% premium). This year Christine Lynn and Evan Treharne coordinated hospitality for set-up, the preview and sale day, using Cathy Weatherford’s Sweetest Gourmet catering company. Sisters Rosemary Ricelli and Michelle Ricelli Treharne enjoyed their “Celebrity Bartender” roles serving the 90 guests at the Preview Party. H&H CEO Dennis Wolf, President Brad Wolf and General Manager Ryan Wolf all spoke very briefly, thanking the workers and party sponsors Equity Title and Chemical Bank’s Lara Forte. The next day, approximately 500 shoppers bought most of the gently used treasures. Unsold merchandise will be sold in Habitat’s ReStore. Habitat for Humanity’s big fundraiser, the annual Fall Gala, is Friday, Nov. 15 at the Troy Marriott. For details and tickets go to https://www.habitatoakland.org/event/2019/05/7th-annual-fall-gala/.


1. Hall & Hunter’s Brad Wolf (center) with event co-chairs Pam Gray (left) and Gillian Lazar

2. Changing Places Moving’s Bob & Johnna Struck

3. Annie & event hospitality co-chairs Evan Treharne and Christine Lynn & Mike Lapinski

4. “Celebrity bartenders” Rosemary Ricelli and Michelle Ricelli Treharne

5. Peggy Kerr, Hall & Hunter’s Dennis & Kathy Wolf

6. Bob Stewart & Wendy Leonard, Cindy Obron Kahn & Marc Kahn

7. Amy & sponsor U.S. Bank’s Mark Webberly and Ted Edginton with Knox & Vilma Edginton

8. Patty & Mike Moran, Carol Ordona, Amy Ordano, John Balarado

9. Business partners Gillian Lazar and Denise Zuckerman

Oakland Literacy Council Picnic in the Park

About 100 students, tutors, OLC supporters and their families celebrated the council’s 35th anniversary at Waterford Oaks Park. Picnic in the Park featured food, games, magic tricks by Baffling Bill and banjo music by Brian Newsom and Morgan Humecky. Stories of challenges and accomplishments were also shared throughout the afternoon. Student Lilian Faranso recalled how her tutor went through extra training just to learn how to help her better. Board President Judy Lindstrom reflected, “This organization has touched so many hearts and changed so many lives over 35 years.” The council’s biggest fundraiser, Ex Libris, is Thursday, Nov. 14 at The Village Club. Keynote speaker / Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Marannis will have significant contributions to the event theme - “The Stories that Weaver Us Together.” For sponsorships and tickets go to http://www.oaklandliteracy.com/exlibris2019/.


1. Rita-Ann Lindstrom, Judy Lindstrom, Judy Bryce, Julie Hoensheid

2. Pat Peck, OLC co-founder Robert Gaylor

3. Lillian Faranso

4. Christine Claerr, Rick & Xiaoyo Townsend, Tom Claerr

Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber Vine & Dine

Many of the 375 guests ($85, $95 ticket) at the 16th annual chamber fundraiser were seeing DoubleTree by Hilton for the first time since the former Kingsley Inn was renovated. All we interviewed approved, especially of the elimination of the sunken dance floor in the Grand Ballroom on the lower level and the renovation of the outdoor courtyard accessible from it where the brewery stations were located. The 16 participating restaurants all brought their “A” game and the dishes paired well with the donated wines. (See photo gallery for providers.) New this year - BBC director Annie VanGelderan and Gleaners’ Suzette Hohendorf coordinated a Chefs’ Challenge emceed by WCSX’s Juline Jordan. The chefs - Hazel, Ravines & Downtown’s Emmele Herrold, Big Rock Chop House’s Eric Vogt and Vinotecca’s Jose Chacon - each got a box of Gleaners foods and they had to use 8 of the items. They were also provided some regular staples and each could bring one protein. After the dishes were judged by Dr. Ahmet Karaca, David VanElslander and Kevin Klym, Emmele’s peanut curry shrimp was declared the winner. A terrific show by NUCLASSICA violinists got enthusiastic applause. A wine pull ($3,400) and seven silent auction items ($5,000) also raised money for Gleaners.

1. BB Chamber president Joe Bauman, sponsor Mi Bank Chairman & CEO Rob Farr

2. Wally Schwartz, sponsor Mi Bank’s Mimi Schwartz Miller and her husband Matt Miller

3. Sponsor Mi Bank’s Erin Tecker with Dana Beels

4. Bob Kupfer, Marsha Kovacs, Dave Weir

5. Chris McLogan & Liz Luckenbach

6. Lynn Gillow, Mary Marble & Mike McKenna

7. Roadside B & G’s Grace Splude and Sheila Barnett with Jim Rein

8. Dave & Molly Smyk

9. Ron Hatfield, Debbie Piess, Sunny Connelly

10. Regan Gilshire and her mother Chris Winans

11. George Haralampopoulos, Jennell RaCosta and her daughter Bailey

12. David & Vera Day

13. Sponsor Mi Bank’s Rob & Laurie Farr, Scott Gardner, Karen White

14. Chef’s challenge emcee WCSX’s Juline Jordan, chefs Emmele Herrold, Eric Vogt and Jose Chacon

15. Chefs’ Challenge judges: Dr. Ahmet Karaca, David VanElslander, Kevin Klym

16. NUCLASSICA’s Jordan Broder and associates

17. Participating restaurants

18. Beverage providers

Distinguished Grand Jester’s Reception

The 13th annual Parade Company Grand Jester’s Reception attracted nearly 200 Distinguished Clowns and some of their friends to The Reserve for a sparkling cocktail supper generously hosted by Norm, Bonnie and Scott LePage. Food, spirits, conversation, a parade video and classy annual parade photo albums placed on the tables provided diversion before the brief program emceed by Parade Company Pres. / CEO Tony Michaels. It was highlighted by tributes to: DC Corps sponsor UHY LLC; 2019 Grand Jester Joe Fleck and past Grand Jesters in the crowd; USA Today’s naming of Detroit’s America’s Thanksgiving Parade as Number One in the Nation; the Detroit Youth Choir which will lead the parade; and Tony’s “boss”, Parade Company staffer CarolAnn Babb. The Distinguished Clown Corps was established in 1983 to generate parade funding. Members donate $1,000 each year. Anyone wishing to be in the 2019 corps has until October 31 to contact Babb at 313.432.7831.


1. 2019 Grand Jester Joe Fleck, 2018 Grand Jester Jeff Sadowski

2. Former Grand Jester Maggie Allesee, 2019 Grand Jester Joe Fleck

3. Larry Walsh, Bonnie Jobe, Betty Bright

4. Parade memory book featuring Bonnie Jobe in Distinguished Clown costume

5. Clarice Michaels, Emily Michaels Madigan

6. Cheryl Wasilewski, Parade Company board member Rod & Tammy Alberts

7. Distinguished Clowns Corp sponsor UHY’s Tony Frabotta, Parade Company CEO Tony Michaels

8. Former Grand Jester Syd Ross, his son Vic Ross

9. Rachelle Nozero, Rick & past Grand Jester Beckie Sorensen

10. Angie Chunovich, Bradley Stroud, Katie Marinelli

11. Heather Nuckolls, Drew Maltese, Judy Dunn

12. Mike and 2018 Grand Jester Jeff Sadowski, 2019 Grand Jester Joe Fleck

13. Past Grand Jester Dr. Skip Rosemond, Robert Paster

14. Dr. Skip Rosemond’s parade shoes

15. Cardboard cutouts of Distinguished Clowns / event hosts Scott and Norm LePage

16. Lisa Hartman, Conrad Haremza, Brian Kaminskas

17. “One man band” Rennie Kaufmann, his daughter Esther Kaufmann

Meadow Brook Hall Gourmet Wild Game Dinner

Mother Nature smiled profusely on the 14th annual Wild Game Dinner which brought more than 325 ($150 ticket) to Meadow Brook Hall on the last Thursday of the summer. Among the early arrivals spotted bidding on silent auction items ($24,000) were Bob and Linda Power who said attending special events at the great mansion makes them feel special for the night. Other diversions during the cocktail hour on the loggia terrace and lawn were conversation and passed hors d’oeuvres like alligator andouille, smoked duck breast and elk short rib ravioli. Emcee WXYZ’s Dave LewAllen welcomed all when the party moved into the Garden Tent for a dinner highlighted by a smoked fish sampler, deer medallion, lake trout and a decadent flourless chocolate torte with raspberries and caramel sauce. Lori Stefek conducted the nine-item live auction with energetic good humor. It raised $17,000. Then the crowd pledged another $10,000 in donations to Help the Hall, where daily operating expenses total $11,000. Thanks also to generous sponsors (Northern Trust, Piston Group and Szott M59 Dodge Ram) the 4, 52-card raffles and the one for a Benelli 828 Nickel Plated shotgun valued at $3,000 the idyllic evening raised $134,000 to help preserve the National Historic Landmark.


1. Suzanne & Meadow Brook Hall director Geoff Upward, sponsor Northern Trust’s Dan Pienta (also a committee member) and Rebecca Herr

2. Denise & committee member Scott Kunselman

3. Tom and Michael Kenny, committee member Ted Cunningham, Kenny Lawrence

4. Kevin Lee, committee member Patrick Brown

5. Ed Kanine, Ashley Dewling, committee members Meadow Brook Hall’s Shannon O’Berski and Millie Gervais

6. Sue Martin & committee member Randy Walker

7. Lynn Fisher, Teckla Rhoads

8. Theresa Buffa, John Grenda, Kathy Obrecht, Roberta Brown

9. Mike & Jennifer Westfall

10. Auctioneer Lori Stefek, her son Kyle Stefek

11. Bert & Paul Bresette, Betty Lovelady

12. Joseph & Linda Power

13. Paula Rea Johnston, Linda Rea

14. Roger & Suzanne Rewold

15. Bryce & Kimberly Tomas, Matt & Theresa Gust

16. Margie Serra, Kim Topping

17. Liz & Pat Gazzarato, Chef Patrick Gazzaeato’s parents

Oktoberfest at The Community House

Never mind that this inaugural Oktoberfest was held in September, the temperature was perfect for alfresco partying and it attracted 205 ($39, $45 tickets) to the tented terraces at TCH and raised more than $13,000 to benefit the children and families served there. With German music from John Orishack’s accordion floating through the venue, people sipped Bell’s beer and Zim’s vodka and savored very tasty vegan burgers from Greenspace and traditional burgers, brats and potato salad from the TCH kitchen at long tables which promoted camaraderie. But this reporter’s favorite culinary offerings were the soft pretzels made in the House kitchen. They reminded me of the days I attended grade school in Dayton, Ohio. Once a week a German bakery in the neighborhood would bring trays of the yummy snacks to the cafeteria for students to buy at recess. They cost three cents each (sic). I had to make a choice - to buy a pretzel for recess or to save the three cents for the trolley fare home. I usually walked the one-and-half-miles up hill home.


1. Board members Matt McCormick and Ryan Polk, with Andrew Tennent, Andrew Hartman

2. TCH’s Chris Smude, board member Dan Quick

3. Christopher & Devon Cook, Bob McNeill, Laura Tomlinson

4. Brian Jones, Bob DeLaura

5. John & Meegan McRoberts

6. KC Muzik, Dustin Hennigar

7. Barbara Frankel & Ron Michalak

8. Event sponsors

Polish the Jewel Benefactors Party

Nearly 70 supporters of the Belle Isle Conservancy gathered at the Belle Isle Aquarium Sept. 25 for the Polish the Jewel Legacy Luncheon Benefactor Party. Some in the crowd had not been in the iconic 1904, Albert Kahn-designed building since it reopened in 2012 after a 10-year hiatus to the public. They strolled its green, glass tile lined, vaulted ceiling length, pausing to view the fish tanks’ inhabitants, to get their picture taken by AJ Photography, to look at Peacock Room’s jewelry display, to try on Gena Conti hats and to savor Jeremy Sasson’s Heirloom Hospitality’s passed small plates containing (what else?) octopus and salmon. A brief program featured warm welcomes from luncheon co-chairs Gina Coleman and Evette Griffee, Belle Isle Conservancy board chair Sarah Earley and President / CEO Michele Hodges. Then some guests headed to the alfresco La Casa Detroit cigar station by the koi pond, where special guest Chuck Bennett was holding court. Others went down to the dimly-lit, subterranean Speakeasy, where Detroit City Distillery mixed custom whiskey drinks. This reporter was seeing the still boyish-looking Tony Earley for the first time since his retirement from PG&E and permanent return from San Francisco to SE Michigan. That he accepted the chairmanship of the Detroit Zoological Society board, which operates the Belle Isle Nature Center, was a no brainer given his previous DZS board membership and his wife’s passion for Belle Isle. A few tickets for the Oct. 11 luncheon at the Detroit Yacht Club are still available. Go to ptj@belleisleconservancy.org.


1. BIC President / CEO Michele Hodges, event co-chair Gina Coleman, board chair Sarah & Tony Earley

2. Board member Judy & Frank Jonna, event co-chair / DTE’s Evette Griffe

3. Detroit Lions’ Jen McCollum with luncheon sponsor GM’s Genna Young, Hal Garling and Lori Wingertner

4. DaShaun Draper, John & Jackie Kuhn

5. Milliner Gena Conti, board member Judy Jonna

6. Carol Robinson, milliner Gena Cont

7. Kelly Whitman, Heather Beach

8. Urrond Williams, Lisa & Atiim Funchess

9. Signage for the fish tank in background of previous photo

10. Board member Jen Ellison, Kathleen Katkin

11. Cigar circle - Joseph Miller, Ajay Chawla, Judy & Frank Jonna, special host Chuck Bennett

12. Renee Godin & Scott Ferguson

13. Luncheon sponsor / GM designer Chris Webb in the Speakeasy

14. Close-up of Speakeasy sign

15. BIC board member Nancy & Steve Vella

16. Detroit City Distillery’s Garrett Passiak and Pamela Hamilton

17. At the Speakeasy Bar, Jenni Knight, Renee Godin

18. Benefactor Party sponsors

19. 2019 Luncheon sponsors

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


309 views

by Sally G.

Sally G.

©2019-2020 Sally Gerak
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED