Visualize this: Raising funds and friends


Around Town

November 02, 2003|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,Special to the Sun

Okay. So, kids aren't included on the guest lists of most evening fund-raising hooplas. But there's been a whole passel of parties recently that were most definitely "kid-friendly," in the sense that they were raising money for various children's causes.

Like "Visualize This," the casual get-together at the Baltimore School for the Arts, put on by Stage One, the school's young leadership group (read twenty- and thirtysomethings involved in the BSA cause).

Stage One board chairman Sam Polakoff says the night started with an hourlong party. Then the 200 guests headed off to their choice of visual arts classes. Among the options were ceramics, sculpture, abstract drawing, "drawing for dummies," photography and printmaking.

"These classes are low-key and non-threatening," Sam explains. "But, this way, people are getting a tiny, tiny microcosm of what our kids do at the school."

After class, the gang was treated to a short musical performance by some BSA alums, and dessert and coffee. A really fun and successful night, according to Sam. The sellout crowd raised more than $12,000 for the school. But this event, he says, isn't so much a fund-raiser as it is a "friend-raiser." Considering that many of the group hung out at the school an hour after the party's official end, it certainly sounds like that "friend-raising" goal was reached.

And, how 'bout that Odyssey School shindig? School trustee Diana Boyce says there was a "tremendous feeling of excitement" in the air there. Not only was Odyssey celebrating its 10th anniversary, but it was also the first major party thrown at the school's new home in Stevenson. It moved from Roland Park about a year and a half ago.

Even headmaster M. Bradley Rogers got into the night's theme of "An Evening at the Races," greeting the 400 guests dressed as a master of the hounds.

"He wore a smashing red coat and a top hat," Diana says. Jockey silks on the walls and centerpieces of potted mums and wooden horses set on wooden dowels with streaming ribbons gave the party tents a jaunty air.

"It just gave a wonderful, fun, festive punch," she says. "I think people were very excited to be here. They have tremendous energy when it comes to Odyssey and its students, and that translated to the party."

It certainly translated well for the schools' coffers, adding more than $100,000, all of which, Diana says, goes to educational programs at Odyssey School, which helps students in grades one through eight with dyslexia or other language-related learning disorders.

Some Tibetan children are getting a boost, thanks to the Arc of Baltimore's "Second Annual Art in the Round Exhibit and Auction," held this year at the American Visionary Art Museum. The Arc's Kim Lyons says one of the group's program directors, Sly Bieler, recently went to visit a son who is living in India. While there, Sly also visited the Tibetan Handicapped Children's Craft Home, which houses 10 to 20 disabled orphans. Kim says the home makes money by selling art created by its residents. So, Sly brought six pieces to join the more than 40 featured in the Arc show, all of which were made by developmentally disabled artists. And a whiz-bang show it was. About 90 percent of all the art was sold that night, garnering some $4,500, 60 percent of which goes to the artist and 40 percent to Arc, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities.

Kim says the Tibetan pieces inspired quite a bidding war. Final price? $830. Kim says the 60 percent going to the Tibetan children's home will cover about 4 percent of the home's annual budget. And Arc has decided to sell a few more pieces from the home's kids.

A beautiful day of golf and a dinner / auction helped raise some $75,000 for awareness, education and prevention of suicide. The Kristin Rita Strouse Foundation held its second "Yellow Dress Golf Classic" at the Hayfields Country Club recently. Founders Doug and Sharon Strouse, whose college art student daughter Kristin ended her life two years ago, graciously acted as hosts for the event, which was named after a painting of Kristin's. Lots of love and support filled the ballroom. Even down to the dinner place settings, which featured polka-dot ceramic hearts with words like "love," "believe," "hope" and "joy," created by nationally renowned local artist Sandra Magsamen, a friend of Sharon's.

About 235 folks came to the dinner, which was emceed by WBAL sports director Gerry Sandusky. Faces in the crowd included: Kim Strouse, Kevin Strouse, Jon and Joan Schochor, John and Jan Kenny, Joe and Meadowlark Washington, Lynne and Victor Brick, Michael and Lois Hodes, George Everly and Eileen Newman, Jon Levinson, Michael and Donna Naslan, Janet Eckman and Ed Hirsch, Mark Barry, Wil Sirota and Dan Awalt.

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