The Gabby Guy powers down some Pancakes for Parkinson's and discovers why Children and Families First takes the cake.
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A Century and a Quarter of Caring
The celebration for Children and Families First’s 125th birthday—Cake, Cocktails and Comedy—was creative and classy. White vases full of colorful carnations (florist Meredith Graves’ recession-busting bloom of choice) at the check-in tables set the evening’s tone. Welcoming us were the colorful board members Jeffrey and Gayle Dillman, who kindly walked us into the increasingly popular and large Barclays Bank Crescent Building, which, it seems, has become the happening event venue.
Board member Katy Connolly and pretty daughter Caroline pointed out their decorating: balloons and polka-dotted ballot boxes, all in the same playful palette. Well done, ladies. Guests were invited to look—but don’t touch—then vote for their favorite of the seven sinfully delicious looking and artful cakes by Cakewalk, Cannon’s, Cupcake Heaven, Liz Marden, Papa’s, Short & Sweet, and Sweet Christine bakeries.
Our vote cast (we’re not telling) we tried the delish Pinot Noir donated by Gerret and Tatiana Copeland’s Bouchaine Vineyards. Thank you to old pal Doug Rydgren of D&D catering for the hefty pour, which makes saying I only had one glass almost truthful.
The comedy portion (No. 3 on the itinerary) started early, even before the night’s comedian had arrived, with Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office Alan Levin, who teased his lovely bride, board chair Ellen Levin. “My wife told me no tie,” Alan said. “So I’ve broken the official, big, blue ribbon rule. Thanks, Honey.”
Ellen, wearing a smart Dupioni silk jacket the color of mint frosting, and friend Leslie Newman, CEO of Children and Families First, chatted with us near a mural depicting C&FF’s history, which was beautifully designed by Joy Smoker. Joy used an acorn to mighty oak analogy to describe the charity’s growth. Leslie and Ellen told us how that tiny acorn, planted in 1884, has become a giant tree of services reaching out to helping families in need. “A tree of social services whose branches have touched every corner of the state” Leslie said.
Governor Jack Markell and lovely wife, Carla, shared that they’d enjoyed watching UD defeat Hofstra University in football earlier that day. Mrs. Markell looked très sophisticated in a subtly printed velvet cocktail coat from Honey Kamali, worn over skinny black slacks with a big, bedazzling belt buckle, a gift from her friend Christine Rafetto, who scored it at DuPont Country Club’s annual Perfect Present holiday sale.
Jane Castle, wearing a ruffle-fronted cashmere top in black, flew solo. “Mike’s in D.C., won’t be home till very late,” the congressman’s wife explained. Not one to sit at home, Jane’s day included flipping for Pancakes for Parkinson’s, hooking a deal at Whale of a Sale, then stepping out for Delaware Mental Health Association’s E-Racing the Blues walk and run. Is she a runner, we asked? “More of a plodder, but I finished,” Jane joshed.
Humor was the event’s main course. Belly laughs came courtesy of comedian Paul Mercurio, a writer for “The Daily Show” and a Don Rickles-style cut-up. “You seem annoyed,” he said to Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn. To the slightly late U.S. Senator Tom Carper, he remarked, “Don’t let my show interrupt your eating. Doesn’t your wife feed you”? The senator gamely played along, allowing Paul to lob jelly beans into his open mouth from midfield. Good catch.
It was just the right prescription. Refills, please. Ciao for now. —The Gabby Guy