Nell Nolan: Faith, fashion and philanthropy

The 10th gala for the National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos was an easy sell-out; Fall into Fashion hailed shopping to benefit the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra; and the Cahn family enjoyed limelight during the annual assemblage of the Jewish Endowment Fund.

Seelos Socializing

“It was our best to date,” said an enthusiastic the Rev. Byron Miller, C.Ss.R, at the entrance of the Audubon Tea Room on a recent Sunday afternoon.

A capacity crowd of 300 had gathered at the site to raise funds for the National Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, and late-comers had to be turned away. Calling this first decade celebration the “best to date” was indeed an accolade for an event that unfolds with great success each year.

Thanks were numerous, especially to Margaret Orr, chief meteorologist at WDSU-TV, who emceed along with Father Miller; Dorignac’s Food Center and Zuppardo’s Super Market for the vinous contributions; Kevin Tran, of CHL Linens and Federico’s Florist, respectively for the décor and table arrangements; and gala lead sponsors Marshall Smith, David and Gloria Bacque, Curtis and Maria Pellerin, Randy and Roslyn Eckstein, Joseph and Linda Pappalardo, Tom and Gayle Benson, and Dr. Robert “Rob” and Joanne Marier.

Additional gratitude tapped event coordinators Anne Batt, Diane Maher, the above Gloria Bacque, Kay Kenney, and Jane Fountain.

When it was time to sup, folks lifted shiny cutlery for baked potato soup, a beef filet and tilapia amandine, and bread pudding.

All the while, they made tracks to the auction tables and the 225-plus items that beckoned. In the live portion, special attractions were a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (compliments of Denis and Judy Powers); vintage jewelry (donated by Dr. Gary Carroll); and an original painting given by local artist Mary Moore Soniat.

Among the Seelos “seen” were Dr. Anna Maria Pou with her sister and brother-in-law, the above Pappalardos, as well as Lloyd and Almaree Abadie, Dr. Bob and Sharon Weilbaecher, Dr. Lee Roy and Kathleen Morgan, Jean-Marc Pellerin with fiancé e Melissa Gebbia, Dr. Carroll, Carol Dienes (grandmother of a debutante of this season, Caroline Talbot Dienes), Claudia Voulgarakis and son George, sisters Joan Benge and Debbie Rebstock, Gregory and Sharon Wilde, Kevin F ountain and Dr. Robert Kenney with the above Jane and Kay, Dr. David and Alma Weilbaecher, Oscar and Dorothy Borda, Gerald and Noreen Duhon, Charles and Carmen Clark, Dr. Wayne and Mary Vedeckis, Tom and Gina Wright, Lee and Courtney Guidry, and about 260 more.

Then there were the laurels.

For her decades of devotion to the Seelos cause (for canonization) and center, Joyce Bourgeois was the 2013 inductee in the The Order of Seelos Witness, the highest honor in connection with the Seelos shrine.

Past recipients include the late Jack Pitkin, Dr. A.J. and Marie Giorlando, and a Seelos descendant.

Still others garnering acknowledgement were assistant coordinators Anthony and Carla Catalano, and Nick Punch and Peggy Shoemacher; Wilmae Spedale; and gala organizers Mary Biundo, Joanna Giorlando, Elizabeth Mixon, Arlene Rogers, Barbara Wheeler and a number of the above.

Those who give, often get. Mary Biundo and husband Dr. Joseph are strong Seelos supporters.

At the recent gala dinner, he won the key to the Treasure Chest Raffle containing more than $1,300 in prizes.

A Chic Cause

Fall Into Fashion is the annual fundraiser benefiting the Encore shop on Maple Street, which is owned and operated by Symphony Volunteers Inc.

An upscale ladies’ resale boutique, the shop’s slogan is “Where Better Clothes Take Their Second Bow to Support the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.” Along with “Bow” is bargain.

Melissa Gordon chaired the event that claimed a perfect night for its inside/outside activity at the handsome Garden District home of retired Maj. Gen. David and Jane Mize with the Nick Ellman Jazz Trio providing the lively beat.

Butch Stedman (Dorignac’s was the donor) selected the wine; and food committee Chairwomen Diane Butler and Helen Flammer orchestrated a scrumptious dinner buffet that included offerings from restaurants, along with tasty contributions from volunteers Beth Andrews, Joan Eckholdt, Sally Firestone, Carolyn Perez, Laura Plunkett, Peggy Pryor, Mary Reidy, Betty Speyrer and Amy Wolffe. Carrollton Flower Market donated the lovely fall flowers that were placed within a silver “fish-motif” bowl in the dining room.

And for the retail redux, guests hovered over the pop-up boutique that featured items with names bannered in Vogue ads. The Designer Boutique set up in the Mizes’ stylish pool house was created by Darleen Carlisle, Jacquee Gold, Melissa Meyers and the helpful staff at the Encore Shop. Much of the evening’s excitement was reported back to shop adviser Barbara (Mrs. Thomas) Sands, who was on a family trip to Hawaii.

Making their rounds were SVI President Amy Ferguson, Orchestra President Stephanie Thompson, Eva and Joe Mikes, Barbara and Hugo Wedemeyer, John Butler, Rosemarie Coffman, Ann Thompson (in from Houston to lend her flair and expertise at the shop during Fall Into Fashion Week), Raul Fonte, Ileana Suquet and Diane Dupin.

Also, Bruce Gordon, Erin Fleming, Jeanne Bruno, Jamie Manders, Barbara and Dr. Perry Rigby, Nancy Claypool, Courtney-Anne Sarpy, Susan Talley, and Joel and Bert Myers. Joel is a previous occupant of the Mize house, which has had only three owners in its 100-plus-year history.

A Firm Foundation

The Hilton Riverside was the site for Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana’s “Surviving, Thriving and Making a Difference” that was further billed as “An Evening with Loren Galler Rabinowitz.” The granddaughter of local Holocaust survivors, the late Eva and Henry Galler, Loren is a motivational speaker, Harvard graduate, 2010 Miss Massachusetts, ice skating medalist, published poet and classical pianist, and a current Columbia Medical School student.

She shared the spotlight with Larry Lehmann, Alan Franco, and Rabbi Yonah Schiller, all praised for their community and Jewish-cause achievements, especially those for JEF.

Hailed, too, were members of the Cahn family, recipients of the Tzedakah Award. Almost a century ago, Michael Cahn founded Dixie Mill Supply Co. His widow, Blanche, along with their sons Jules and Emile, then went on to establish a family foundation for charitable giving, thanks to the success of Dixie Mill, a metal-working machine distribution business.

The current family names to know are the 96-year-old Adele Karp (Mrs. Emile “Sleepy”) Cahn, Richard and Vivian Cahn and son David, and James “Jimmy” Cahn and Marie and their children, Jeffrey, Elise and Celeste. The fourth generation, the above four children, are the next generation of philanthropists.

Mastheaders for the foundation are President Carol B. Wise; Vice Presidents Andrea S. Lestelle, Dr. Edward L. Soll and the above Richard Cahn; Mimi Schlesinger and John L. Haspel, treasurer and assistant treasurer; Secretary Allan Bissinger; and Saundra K. “Sandy” Levy, who answers to executive director. She gave the welcome, Rabbi Edward P. Cohn the invocation and, after all the encomiums, Melinda Mintz, the closing remarks.