• Sally Gerak

Social Lights, Sept. 2020

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

In this column

  • Forgotten Harvest On Track to End Hunger

  • Lighthouse Rent Party

  • Assistance League Blast Off 2 School

On Track to End Hunger

After 16 annual Dream Cruise-focused fundraisers at Westborn Market, last year the Forgotten Harvest benefit - On Track to End Hunger - moved to the event tent at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac. Melissa and Bill Kozyra chaired it. However, this year, the pandemic dictated the Aug. 13 event had to be virtual and could not include the popular-last-year thrill rides around the 1.5-mile performance track. Not to worry. The event chair Matt Jobin and savvy past chairs knew just what to do. They made it a video tour of some of the exclusive private garages, including the Kozyras, located in the world’s largest private garage community. The other featured garage owners were FCA Head of Design Ralph and Doris Gilles, entrepreneur Scott Baker, M1 Concourse co-founder Brad Oleshansky and Forgotten Harvest board member / Freidman Real Estate’s Stan Finsilver. The garages, some of which are three-stories with living and entertainment levels, are outstanding, as are the car collections therein. The event also offered a silent auction ($7,000) and donation options. Thanks to generous support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and other sponsors, it raised nearly $125,000 - enough to provide fresh food for 499,172 meals or $873,551 worth of groceries. Advocates of Forgotten Harvest, as well as other non-profits, are hoping M1’s new events facility and restaurant will be completed by next August. And that the pandemic will be history! Below we have posted some screen shots from the video emceed by Fox-2 News’ Roop Raj, but do yourself a favor. See the whole video at https://www.forgottenharvest.org/2020ontrack/. We think you will be impressed.

1. Doris & Ralph Gilles

1. Doris & Ralph Gilles in the second floor

living room of their garage

2. Close-up of Ralph Gilles’ favorite Alfa Romero

3. A view of the Gilles living room

4. Doris and Ralph Gilles looking at design books

5. Scott Baker in his three-story garage

6. View of Baker’s second-floor living room

7. Baker in his floating garage office

8. Some of Baker's Rolls-Royces

9. Baker looking over the race track from the third level of his garage.

Not visible - the kitchen and bar

10. M1 Concourse co-founder Brad Oleshansky leaning on his Mercedes-Benz 1 SUV G550

11. Forgotten Harvest board member Stan Finsilver

12. Finsilver’s 1963 Corvette coupe

13. Close-up of the split rear window on Finsilver’s Corvette

14. Finsilver and vintage GM truck, suitable for hauling Forgotten Harvest produce

15. Finsilver in his “man cave”

16. Past event chairs Melissa and Bill Kozyra on the ground level of their three-story garage

17. The ground floor is painted ala a roadway

18. The Kozyra garage ground floor resembles a village

Lighthouse Rent Party

Instead of several hundred supporters of Lighthouse gathering at Paddy Lynch’s home - the former Stanley Kresge estate in the Arden Park-East Boston Edison Historic District - to wine, dine and savor live jazz on the terrace, the fifth annual Rent Party fundraiser had to be virtual. The live streamed event included welcomes by Lighthouse Development Officer Russ Russell and board member Lynch. But jazz musician Mike Jellick and tap dancer Claudia Rahardjanoto provided the stellar entertainment. Thanks to generous sponsors and viewers who sent donations, the event raised some $18,000 to support Lighthouse’s emergency services, which is currently feeding 4,500 needy people each week. The screen shots below are just a sip of the great Rent Party program you can see at https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?extid=qeCeEvgqoqCz0z6D&v=3101702973289160&ref=watch_permalink.

The program also included a pitch by Taryn Asher and Jason Carr for the 12th annual Dancing with Detroit Stars, the next Lighthouse fundraiser on Saturday, Nov.21. It will also be a virtual event.

1. Lighthouse Chief Development Officer Russ Russell

2. Jazz musician Mike Jellick

3. Mike Jellick on keyboard and NYC tap dancer Claudia Rahardjianoto

4. Event host / Lighthouse board member Paddy Lynch

5. Dancing with the Detroit Stars emcees Taryn Asher and Jason Carr

Blast Off 2 School

The Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan staged its annual back-to-school event for 360 area students (K-12) at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Rochester Hills. The event was free for Neighborhood House clients and low-income families who live in Auburn Hills, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Leonard and Lakeville. Each child received a red bag brimming with school essentials. ALSM provided a new hoodie, socks, underwear, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a book, mask and hygiene kit. Ascension Providence Rochester did school physicals. Neighborhood House provided a wide array of school supplies – everything from three-ring binders and dividers to spiral notebooks, pens and pencils, erasers, Elmer’s glue sticks and flash drives. The school supplies were donated by the community. Women parishioners from St. Paul Methodist Church made 715 face masks for the event. The Rochester High School Boys’ Tennis Team assisted with stocking and loading of inventory for the event. All volunteers were pandemic proper, i.e. face masked and socially distanced. “It was such a well-organized event,” said AL President Ann Drake. “As each car pulled into the lot, the parent and student stayed in their vehicle, and our volunteers handed out the red bags. What a wonderful day.” For membership and information about the AL go to www.assistanceleague.org/southeastern-michigan/.

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by Sally G.

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