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There’s something very cool about receiving an invitation to dinner at Tiffany & Co. Well, it wasn’t actually dinner, but a small group of people was invited to the iconic luxury jewelry store for a preview party benefiting CARE House of Oakland County. The 21st annual Circle of Friends event took place on Thursday, kicking off with the cocktail reception at Tiffany & Co. the night before.

About 50 people gathered at the store inside Somerset Collection on Wednesday for the preview event. Plum Market served up wine and champagne with trays of ahi tuna bites, a basil pesto cucumber aperitif, chèvre, date and pecan bites, and curry chicken tarts. Dynamic speaker, author and child welfare advocate Ashley Rhodes-Courter, who was a foster child, addressed the crowd, speaking about some of her experiences in the system.

The lunch the next day was at the Townsend Hotel with 250 guests. Event proceeds support CARE House’s intervention and therapeutic services, advocacy, education and prevention programs, including its Court Appointed Special Advocates program. The CASA program annually assists 100 neglected and abused children who are wards of the Oakland County Circuit Court. It trains, teaches and supports volunteer advocates who are court-appointed to child neglect cases. She spoke of her amazing journey through 14 homes in 10 years as a young girl in the foster care system and her life-changing adoption and education.

“One person can make a difference in a child’s life,” said Rhodes-Courter, who is also a foster and adoptive parent. “I’ve witnessed firsthand what a CASA advocate means to a kid when they’re at a point of vulnerability and loss of hope.” She is the author of the book “Three Little Words.”

One of the CARE House board members, Tamara Rambus, who was chair of this year’s Circle of Friends luncheon, told her story of serving as a foster parent as part of her introduction to Ashley. It was powerful and poignant.

Ticket prices for the Circle of Friends benefit started at $120 and included lunch and a copy of Rhodes-Courter’s book, “Three Little Words.”

Chuck Bennett is the creator of TheSocialMetro.com and is the Fox 2 News Style Ambassador.

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