Society: Mid-year report card for Detroit’s party scene

Chuck Bennett

We may be living in turmoil these days, but Detroiters are still making time to support and celebrate their favorite charities and causes — from art to cancer to education. Even though we’re only halfway through 2016, we wanted to stop and acknowledge a few of our favorite fundraisers so far this year.

In January — serving as the official kickoff to North American International Auto Show — “The Gallery,” hosted at MGM Grand Detroit, kicked the year off with a bang. Some 500 guests enjoyed dinner served by world-renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, then had the opportunity to stroll through a $7-million collection of some of the world’s most luxurious automobiles, including Bentley, Aston Martin, Maserati and Rolls-Royce. Proceeds from the evening benefit the Detroit Auto Dealers Association’s Charitable Foundation Fund.

In February, more than 600 guests supported the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women luncheon, featuring actress/comedienne Kim Coles as keynote speaker. More than $600,000 was raised at the event that was chaired by Janice Cosby of Ascension Health and Sharyl Smith of McLaren Macomb.

Neighborhood Service Organization celebrated its Diamond Anniversary in April, with a heartwarming fundraising gala titled “60 Years of Building Brighter, Stronger Futures.” Held in the grand ballroom at MotorCity Casino Sound Board, the charge was led by NSO’s CEO and President Sheila Clay with WDIV morning news anchor Rhonda Walker as mistress of ceremonies.

Karmanos Cancer Institute raised more than $2.4 million at its glamorous 34th Annual Dinner in April held at the Michigan Motion Pictures Studio. And Jackets for Jobs, the charity organization founded by former flight attendant Alison Vaughn that provides career skills training and professional clothing to job seekers, celebrated its 16th anniversary with an event at Greektown Casino Ballroom called “Sweet 16.” Supermodel Veronica Webb, a native Detroiter, was the keynote speaker.

As usual, the College for Creative Studies’ Student Exhibition Opening was a blast. This was the 91st, with top-notch food and full beverage service provided by Forte Belanger. More than $300,000 was raised for CCS and more than $100,000 worth of artwork was sold with funds going directly to students.

“Ort in the City,” a celebration of art, fashion and Detroit was held in Shed 5 at Eastern Market in May, where some 500 people gathered for an evening of cocktails, strolling dinner and an over-the-top silent auction. It was co-chaired by Nicole Eisenberg, Cathy Forbes and Jessica Kwartowitz. Also in May, the Fashion Group honored fashion icons Rosemary Bannon and Linda Dresner at a luncheon at the Heathers Club of Bloomfield.

A perennial favorite, Syd and Elizabeth Ross’ “The Garden Party,” did not disappoint this year when it was held at Meadowbrook Hall last month. More than 600 people enjoyed over 100 different varieties of fine wine and food from some of the best restaurants in the area. Proceeds benefit Macomb Community College’s Applied Technologies Program and Oakland Community College’s Culinary Studies Institute.

And the first half of 2016’s fundraising events went out with a bang — literally — with one of the Parade Company’s largest and most popular fundraisers of the year, the Ford Fireworks Rooftop Party. Offering the best seats in the city to view the fireworks, guests experienced live music, food by Andiamo, games and giveaways for adults and kids alike.

Social calendars are already filling up for the remainder of the year. Stay tuned to these pages for full reports.

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