Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
Local Business Leaders Give Back
--In Support of D.C.'s Charitable Causes

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, thesethree; but the greatest of these is charity."
--I Corinthians 13:13

By Sherri LaReaux

We in Washington herald the efforts of the men and women who give their energies to keeping areanon-profits afloat. We attend glittering galas and elegant luncheons to show our support. But how oftendo we remember the business underwriters of these causes? Local charities couldn't survive without them.

For the Hay Adams Hotel, charity is an international affair. "We do have a very largeinternational clientele, and we do what we can to help introduce D.C. and these traveling foreign[visitors] to each other." Last October, the hotel partnered with the Smithsonian Institution raising money through a wonderfully creative and memorable French-infused week long event. Thehotel's chef Frederic Lange, originally from Champagne, France, was joined by fellow-countryman Guy LeGuy, executive chef at the Ritz in Paris. The pair held French cooking classesand lectured on fine teas and pastries. And, in addition to the regular English tea each afternoon, aseparate French tea was served all throughout the week.

THe Hay Adams usually reduces its room and/or bar rates for nonprofit events. They even reduce theirrates to public television camera crews who come to the D.C. area to shoot documentaries and filmsegments. For one such program, a crew stayed at the hotel while filming a segment on power dinners, atthe Design Center gala hosted by Lady Catherine Meyer, wife of the British Ambassador.A few of the notable guests who attended the dinner and stayed at the Hay Adams Hotel included UNChief Prosecutor Louise Arbor, the first female Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell, andthe President of Barnard College Judith Shapiro.

Creative charity is a cornerstone of the Hay Adamss, with director, Hans Bruland central in thedecision-making process of choosing which non-profits to support. On October 14th, about 100 visitorswill take part in the recreation of this year's Ghana State Dinner. The Hay Adams' event starts off witha reception on the roof of the hotel which commands a perfect view of the White House and the Mall. "Ifyou couldn't be at the White House [for the State Dinner], this is the next-best thing. You couldn't beany closer than the Hay Adams," says Jennifer Girgus, public relations and media liaison for thehotel. A solemn William Clinton look-alike will deliver the actual speech the president made onFebruary 24, 1999 to 240 guests in the East Room of the White House. A replica dinner will be served onpresidential china-- Eisenhower's gold base plates, FDR's china, and Kennedy'sMorgantown crystal and gold flatware-- on loan form the Woodrow Wilson House's Charles Momjian, who plans to attend the event.

Let's Not Forget the Food

Fine area caterers like Capitol Catering get more than their fair share of requests from charitieswanting donations and gift-certificate contributions. Sara McGregor, president of CapitolCatering, says choosing which groups to donate to is a process of elimination. Her staff looks closelyat schedules, and then carefully chooses charities that are important to them, like the NationalKidney Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the National Tennis Foundation. Typically, Capitol Catering provides a silent auction gift certificate for a gourmet dinner for two onfine china (without service), which starts at $250-- but usually brings in much more money. One localcouple secured one of their gift certificates and then hired a Capitol Catering waiter to serve them ananniversary meal.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is one charity that hits close to home for Sara, whose sister, Jill McGregor, is a breast-cancer survivor. "Once you have breast cancer in your family, itaffects everything you think about." During the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Monthand a very busy time for these caterers, a portion of their proceeds are donated to the Susan G. KomenFoundation.

Shop Till You Drop

It's a quandry: How do you appease your significant other when he hears exactly how much money you justblew at your favorite couture shop? Plan your shopping spree around a charity event, like the trunk show Gucci at Fairfax Square hosted for Knock Out Abuse Against Women. Social notables,including the event's co-chair Jill Sorenson Robert, made a spending-spree appearance during oneparticular trunk show weekend, when Gucci was donating a whopping 10 percent of its proceeds to Knock OutAbuse. Not only did they donate the money, but Gucci generously sponsored the seated luncheon andcocktail event, and then purchased a corporate table at the main gala.

More than just Gucci dollars and signature purses for silent auctions are given toward charitablecommunity organizations, says Gucci general manager Roya Kingdom. Gucci supports such diverseorganizations as the Foundation for Children of Iran,headed by Princess Yasmeen, BestBuddies, and The Phillips Collection. "I put in my own time also; it's not just the company,"she says. And, as president of the Fairfax Square Retail Association, her charitable influencehas extended to include a cooperative charity budget from all the stores in the shopping complex. Theircombined efforts support such organizations os Rally Around the Redskins, the National BalletSymphony, and Life With Cancer, in addition to Knock Out Abuse Against Women.

For Roya, as with many other business leaders who underwrite charitable causes, a successful business isbuilt by a supportive communtiy. In turn, a successful community is well rounded when it takes care ofits own. And local businesses can be the catalyst for tangible, positive change. "You have to be a partof society in Washington; you can't just close your eyes and sell. You have to give back," she says. "Ithink it's a good feeling between our company and the city we live in, and the people that are involvedin charitable causes."

At many of the silent auctions here, quality merchandise can often be had at significant savings. Butwhether you save or spend a bundle in support of a good cause, the items up for bid are always exquisite.

Take for example, the pearl studs or gold button earrings, ranging in price from $100 to $125, that Solovey Jewelers donates as silent auction items up for bid at charity events benefiting fine areaschools. Sales associate Ricky Dahne says shop-owner Tracy Solovey chooses classic stylessure to please anyone. "Everybody loves the gold button earrings-- they have a universal appeal-- andeverybody can se pearl studs."

Sandra P. Sugar, president of Sandra's Fine Jewelry, also shows appreciation to localschools like Sidwell Friends, Maret, Holton-Arms, and Bethesda Community School, with giftsof classic elegance. She donated a $600 gold necklace to the Georgetown Day School's fundraiser.

Sandra also provides senior charities, like the Hebrew Home for the Aged, with glittering DorisPanos sets. "We really do a lot," says Sandra. "I try to be very generous, because I feel that thecommunity has been very generous to me and I want to repay them. I am a Washingtonian, born and raisedhere, and I love the city-- I love the area."

Blore Hall Fine English Apparel owner, Nathalie de Wolf, says silent auctions, like theones held for her motherland at the British Embassy, the Red Cross, and the JuniorLeague, are growing in importance to her. Nathalie also chooses appropriate children's charities,like the Secret Garden silent auction to support terminally-ill children, held in private gardenson Nebraska Avenue, to donate her custom children's outfits. "I'm a mother and I'm trying to run abusiness-- I can't [give my time to] do charity work as well, because I don't have enough of me to spreadaround." In the future, Nathalie hopes to box up more tiny handmade dresses and dressy shorts outfitsfor upcoming charity events as her business grows. "It's something that even a small business like minecan afford to support.


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