VIPs gather for Courage Awards



March 19, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

It may have looked like a football field, but the action on it was a different kind of play: sipping a cocktail, nibbling hors d'oeuvres, or chatting with your favorite football player. This was a mini-football field of green carpeting, under a tent outside Martin's West, where the honorees of the 28th Annual Ed Block Courage Awards were gathering for a VIP reception before going inside the catering hall to meet and greet hundreds of fans.

One player from every NFL team had been selected for the honor. Each sported a tuxedo and red bow tie as he enjoyed a little downtime before the big event. The Ravens' Dale Carter, Will Shields of the Kansas City Chiefs, Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers, Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets, and Boss Bailey of the Detroit Lions were among the early arrivals. There was even a pre-awards ceremony for Ruben Brown of the Chicago Bears as he was presented with a Children's Courage Award. (Most of the other players had received theirs the day before at St. Vincent's Center, one of several NFL-sponsored Courage Houses for abused or neglected children, but Brown had been unable to make it.)

And then there were the latecomers, who had quite a story to tell when they arrived an hour later. At least 10 attendees had been trapped in an elevator stuck between floors at the hotel where they were staying.

"It was hot," said Sam Lamantia Jr., the Ed Block board chair and CEO, who had been in that group. "We were all trying to be calm. ... One of the players forced the door open, so we could get some air in there. ... All the players stayed cool. They deserve a courage award just for that."


What to wear? She can tell you

Mary Ellen Brown moved to Baltimore eight years ago, when her husband's spice import / export business brought them here. Brown, now 46, opened the J. McLaughlin women's clothing store in Ruxton in 2002 and ran it until about a year ago, when she started her closet consulting / personal shopping business, The Witch & The Wardrobe. That's on top of managing a household of three sons, ages 15, 12 and 10, and involvement with several local charities.

What exactly do you do in your business?

I'm a wardrobe consultant. I go through people's closets. I make them try on clothes. I keep the good, and give away the bad. Then I make a list of what they need. And then I either take them shopping, or they go themselves. I also write a column for [local shopping magazine] Paper Doll.

What's the name of the column?

It's a secret.


Because I'm "Dear Dolly." But, don't tell anybody. It's all questions about fashion.

Tell me about you and fashion.

I worked for years in the business -- in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta -- before I got married ... and I learned you can't be a fashion victim. You have to base your wardrobe on proportion.

What are the most common fashion faux pas?

Pantyhose with mules. I also believe shoes are key; they can make or break what you're wearing. You can wear a plain black dress and great shoes, and you're done ... Also, dressing inappropriately for your age. I've gone into closets of 65-year-olds, and 35-year-olds. Lots of mothers and daughters trade clothes. You have to be careful that you don't wear a short, flouncy skirt that your daughter should wear.

Your job has to be tough, sometimes ... like when you try and tell a client she shouldn't be wearing some item in her closet that she loves.

If she doesn't want to toss it, I suggest we put it aside. By the time we go through everything in her closet, she'll usually say, "You're right. Let's get rid of it." The personal shopping is really my favorite part of the business. There's nothing like going shopping with someone who knows what you need, isn't looking for herself, and is not your husband or boyfriend.

Do you like clothes shopping for you?

I am the worst. I call people [for advice]. ... The thing about dressing other people is I can see them from a certain perspective. I can't do that for myself.




Benefits Maryland Historical Society

Open bar, heavy hors d'oeuvres, tour new exhibit, live music

Maryland Historical Society

6 p.m.

Tickets $90 non-members, $75 MHS members

Call 410-685-3750, Ext. 395


Benefits Casey Cares Foundation

Open bar, hors d'oeuvres, dinner buffet, live music, dancing, Elvis impersonator, games

Grand Lodge of Hunt Valley

6:30 p.m.

Tickets $75

Call 443-568-0064, Ext. 224


Benefits University of Maryland School of Medicine

Open bar, hors d'oeuvres, seated dinner, live music, dancing

B&O Railroad Museum

7 p.m.

Tickets $200

Call 410-706-3901


Benefits Lifebridge Health Pediatric and Community Care programs

Open bar, heavy hors d'oeuvres, performance by Kenny Loggins, dessert reception

Hippodrome Theatre

6:30 p.m.

Tickets $1,000, concert & dessert reception only $150

Call 410-601-4438


Benefits The Ella Thompson Fund at Parks & People Foundation

Beer, wine, vodka drinks, heavy hors d'oeuvres, tour sets of The Wire, meet actors and crew of the HBO series

The Wire soundstage in Columbia, address disclosed only to ticket-holders

7 p.m.

Tickets $125

Call 410-448-5663, Ext. 136

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