Legal-aid volunteers are honored

MARYLAND SCENE

Around Town

December 21, 2003|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,Special to the Sun

If you're honoring folks who give a lot of their time to a volunteer effort, why not do it during the season of giving? So went the Annual Awards Reception for the Maryland Legal Services Corp., which helps fund 28 nonprofit groups that provide legal assistance to Maryland's poor.

Corporation board member Doug Bregman says about 225 people gathered in the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel ballroom to honor Steve Sachs, Gregory L. Countess, Winnie Borden, Beverly Mondin-Vanderhaar, Diana L. Morris, Connie Kratovil Lavell, Herbert S. Garten, Jose A. Toro, Beins, Goldberg & Gleiberman, and the Maryland State Bar Association for outstanding service.

Sound awfully official? Not at all, Doug says. The evening was a lot of fun. Doug says emcee Robert Bell, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, was terrific, funny and inspiring as he talked about how deeply involved the honorees are in helping Maryland's disadvantaged.

Doug says the feel-good reception fit right in with the season.

"It's a glorious time for Maryland Legal Services Corp. It spends so much time to make sure all these organizations are well-funded. ... Some of them don't know each other," says Doug.

"This wasn't a corporate Christmas party," he concludes, "these are good people doing good work, and we're honored to bring them together and give them a good time."

The party also wrapped up a nice little Christmas present of about $13,000, to be part of what the corporation doles out to its nonprofits next year.

Speaking of presents, almost all of the 150 guests at Jim Seay's holiday party this year brought a gift. Not for Jim, but for the U.S. Marines' Toys for Tots campaign.

Jim moved to B-more in 1997, when he took over Premier Rides, the Maryland company that makes rides for major theme parks like Universal Studios. (Watch for the new "Mummy" attractions in Orlando and Hollywood coming courtesy of Premier next spring.) But he'd always make sure he was back at his longtime home in Manhattan Beach, Calif., for the big Toys for Tots bash he and some of his buddies have thrown every year for the last 17 years. It's grown to include about 1,000 guests.

A few months ago, Jim moved into his new Canton waterfront home, and decided it was time to get the party going, shall we say, on this coast.

A live Latin band performed as folks mingled inside Jim's home and outside, despite chilly temperatures. Folks like Jim's trusty assistant Ann Marie Newman, Bohager's owner Damien Bohager, "Downtown Diane" Macklin, Bay Cafe owner Dave Naumann, Legacy Harrison honcho Brian Morris, BJB Realty bigwig Brenda Bodian, Howard and Terri Fine, Contemporary Museum's Leslie Shaffer and Venable's John McCauley. Not a bad cocktail mix.

Everyone had a great time, and the Marines came away with a haul. Jim says he hopes to make the party as big, eventually, as it is in California -- and even better.

Oh. Have you heard about one local holiday treat that's hot-hot-hot this year? Would you believe Canton's Dangerously Delicious Pies' chili powder and cayenne-spiked pumpkin pies! But, to get one, you gotta order it. Quick!

Social Calendar

Dec. 26: "Kwanzaa." Benefits Great Blacks in Wax Museum Expansion Project. Soda, light refreshments, museum tour, live music, dancing, Kwanzaa ceremony celebration. Great Blacks in Wax Museum, 1601-03 E. North Ave. 6 p.m. Tickets $5, $3 for children under 12. Call 410-563-7809, Ext. 105.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture

The night was filled with stars, inside. You could spot local VIPs throughout the sold-out crowd mingling in the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall lobby for a pre-concert reception for the first gala benefiting the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture. The concert showcased several show business stars: Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, Montel Williams, Nnenna Freelon, Hannibal Lokumbe, the Morgan State University Choir, the Sandtown Children of Praise and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

So many people to see, hors d'oeuvres to nibble, music and inspiring words to hear. So little time. However, the night's events heightened excitement for the new museum, under construction on President Street, which plans to open its doors next year. That's why the crowd of around 2,500 gave standing ovations to some additional "stars" that night: George L. Russell Jr., the museum's founder / board chairman / event chairman; Lou Grasmick, the event co-chairman who has worked with Russell for years to turn his dream into a reality; and Loida Nicolas Lewis and Carolyn Fugett, the late Reginald Lewis' wife and mother, who have contributed millions of dollars to the effort.

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