Three charitable events, three times the fun

Chuck Bennett
Special to The Detroit News

Ladies lunching for a cause were big business on the Metro Detroit social scene last week with three major events benefiting important charitable organizations.


First, on Thursday, approximately 400 fashionistas joined the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America Michigan Chapter for an afternoon filled with fashion and food. It was the 9th Annual Spring into Style Fashion Event and, this year, it was held for the first time at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

Breaking records by raising nearly $106,000, the event started with guests enjoying wine and appetizers while bidding on unique silent auction and raffle items. At noon, they were treated to a fabulous lunch followed by a spring trend fashion show presented by RGA Model Management.

The event was hosted by WXYZ’s Erin Nicole and benefit chairs included Dr. Robert Di Pilla, Sellers Automotive, Katie Coleman, and Kathy Groman.

The Suite Dreams Project

On Friday, the Suite Dreams Project celebrated 15 years at its annual Hats Off Luncheon. This year’s theme was inspired by Chanel No. 5, specifically tailoring it to No. 15 for this event’s 15th year. A sold-out crowd of more than 350 women in spectacular hats paid $100 or $150 to show their support of this wonderful cause.

”We were so excited to honor our talented interior designers, who continue to created beautiful bedrooms for seriously ill children,” said Kris Appleby, who co-founded the project with Kay Ponicall.

After the lunch, also held at The Townsend Hotel, many ladies kept the party going by venturing off on an organized “Hat Crawl,” dazzling a number of nearby bars and restaurants with their almighty hats.

The event raised more than $75,000, with all proceeds used to help support the organization’s mission of creating dream bedrooms for chronically ill children.

Grace Centers of Hope

Grace Centers of Hope presented its 18th annual Women Helping Women Luncheon and Fashion Show on Saturday at the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester. With nearly 500 people in attendance, the event showcased the latest spring fashion trends in a top-notch fashion show featuring professional models from RGA Model Management, along with selected women and children who are currently participating in GCH programs. WDIV news anchor Karen Drew was mistress of ceremonies.

Shannon Grace Sokol was recognized for her many years of dedicated service to Grace Centers of Hope and its mission to serve men, women and children who are homeless. Shannon has been instrumental to the success of the Women Helping Women event for the past 18 years. Much to everyone’s surprise, at the event, she announced that it was her birthday and that she’s retiring.

“I heard the rumor and was hoping it wasn’t true,” said Renee Godin, from RGA. “I was there when she announced it over champagne and chocolate cake. After 18 years of heading Women Helping Women Fashion Show and Luncheon, Shannon Grace Sokol is retiring. My bubble is burst.”

Event tickets were $100.

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