Gala for NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

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The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund celebrated its 75th anniversary Thursday night with a dinner and tribute program. The honorees for the evening were four central forces in the fight for racial justice, William T. Coleman, Jr., Honorable William H. Hastie, Jr., Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., and Honorable Louis H. Pollak, whose families were on hand for the celebration, held at the Kimmel Center in the Hamilton Garden.

Photos after the jump »

Blingo at the Rittenhouse Hotel

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Saturday night the Rittenhouse Hotel was the scene of a lively bingo game — except that the guests were not the blue-haired ladies  I’m used to playing with. The night was called Blingo, as every winning card won a prize that was blinged-out, with proceeds from the evening going to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare, fatal disease which afflicts only boys, usually by the age of 5, most of whom die in their 20s.

Mistress of ceremonies for the evening was WMMR’s Marisa Magnatta who assisted in the Blingo games with local celebrities John Bolaris of WeatherSavior.com, comedian Joe Conklin, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley, CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and former Gov. Ed Rendell,who called out the numbers for Blingo. Jesse and Beka Rendell, along with Sonal and Manu Gambhir, were co-hosts of the gala. During the program the Gambhir’s son, 13-year-old Yuva Gambhir, who has Duchenne and is in a wheelchair, spoke on how the disease affects his life.

His body may be weak, but his mind is sharp, he said, and he talked about the future cure which was just on the horizon. We were all smiling through our tears during his speech.

Photos from Blingo after the jump »

WDAS Women of Excellence Luncheon With Mary J. Blige

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On Saturday, WDAS held its First Annual Women of Excellence Luncheon and paid tribute to the “Sheroes” who are essential contributors to the Tri-State Area. Surprise guest Mary J. Blige received this year’s WDAS Trailblazing Woman of Excellence Award — which will be renamed next year the “Mary J. Blige Woman of Excellence Award.”

The afternoon’s Sheroes included:
Faatimah Gamble, Universal Companies
Susan Slawson, Commissioner, City of Philadelphia
Sheinelle Jones, News Anchor, Weekend Today
Dr. Robin L. Smith, Relationships Expert
Tanya R. Hill-Holliday, McDonald’s Owner
Sister Margaret McKenna
Movita Johnson-Harrell
Rochelle Yates Whittington
Rhonda E. Willingham

At the event there were performances by Kenny Lattimore, Johnny Gill and Tamar Braxton, who all wowed the crowd at the five-hour luncheon at the First District Plaza in West Philadelphia.

Photos after the jump »

The Vesper Club Friends and Family Party

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Last night I attended a friends-and-family party at The Vesper Club, an old drinking establishment reimagined as a classy, modern twist on a private dinner club. Vesper, located at 223 S Sydenham St. (the alley that runs between Walnut and Locust, just above 15th Street), was founded in 1941 as one of the premier private supper clubs until it closed last year. Now reopened under new ownership, the three-level club offers lots of options: a main dining room, two bar areas, several lounges, and room where live music will be played and dancing is encouraged. On the third floor is an event space which can be rented out for parties. The remodeled club has retained some of its yesteryear glamour, from the flooring in the main bar — where the original Vesper insignia tile remains — to the Philadelphia mural which people always marveled at, to the original basement bar which is now known as the “speakeasy.” (To get down there you have to know the password which allows the hidden staircase to be revealed behind the bookshelf.) The Vesper Club officially opens on Monday, April 13th, at 4 p.m. To see more photos of the inside of the club check out PhillyChitChat.com today.

Photos from the Vesper Club Friends and Family Party after the jump »

Shane Victorino Foundation Private Fundraiser and Dinner

Chef Luke Palladino, Kristine Kurilko, Melissa and Shane Victorino.

At the Phillies home opener on Monday, the fans gave former Phillie and current Boston Red Sox star Shane Victorino an extended standing ovation for his first time back at Citizen Bank Park since being traded to the Dodgers in 2012. Shane told me he really appreciated the love given to him. Last night he and his wife, Melissa Victorino, hosted friends at an intimate dinner at Palladino’s on East Passyunk. About 45 people attended the private dinner party prepared by chef Luke Palladino, a fundraiser for the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club, which the Shane Victorino Foundation helped renovate with a million-dollar donation in 2011. The proceeds from the dinner and raffle items will go toward supplies and sporting equipment for the kids. Shane and Melissa told me that Philadelphia would always be their adopted hometown: They have many friends in the area, visit occasionally and still maintain a house here. Wouldn’t it be great if he retired a Phillies player?

Photos from the Shane Victorino Foundation dinner and fundraiser after the jump »

Philadelphia Academies Inc.’s “The Party”

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Thursday night the Philadelphia Academies, Inc. threw their annual shindig “The Party” with 300 guests filling the Fringe Arts/La Peg Brasserie building at 40 N. Columbus Blvd. The theme this year was “Out of the Box,” which Lisa Nutter, President of Philadelphia Academies, Inc. (PAI, ) and First Lady of Philadelphia, says is about creating a career by following your own path, even if it doesn’t fit society’s norm. PAI supports Philadelphia public school students with career-focused programs that prepare young people for employment and post-secondary education, and student ambassadors from Roxborough and Abraham Lincoln high schools were on hand to espouse the virtues of the program.

During the event, David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, accepted PAI’s The Party 2015 Stand and Deliver Award in recognition of the company’s commitment to innovation. Also honored were 2015 honorary chairs David Devan — general director, Opera Philadelphia, and Seun Olubodun, owner, Duke and Winston. PECO was presented with an Academy Award, for the company’s deep commitment to the PAI model, accepted by Mary Krick, PECO’s vice president of human resources; as was ESM Productions in recognition of the agency being a long-standing partner of PAI, accepted by ESM president Scott Mirkin. After the program, guests enjoyed delicious food, spirits, and dancing by the dueling DJs.

Photos from Philadelphia Academies Inc.’s “The Party”

“The Party”: Donors Are Heroes Gala 2015

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The Four Seasons ballroom was filled to the brim on Friday night for the 13th Annual Donors are Heroes Gala otherwise known as “The Party,” a title it richly deserves. As soon as you walk in the door you are swept up with the smiling faces of friendly people, some whose lives have been saved my an organ transplant — like co-founder of The Party Don Freeman (his donor’s mother was in attendance) — others who have donated organs to save a life — like Mary Pat Kessler who gave her sister a kidney — and others who are simply aware of the benefits of choosing “yes” to organ donation on their drivers licenses, and putting those instructions in their do-not-resuscitate documents. That’s where the funds raised at this party go to: maintaining public awareness programs, school summits and teaching initiatives, all of which are geared toward educating and dispelling the myths surrounding becoming an organ donor and emphasizing the need for life-saving, life-enhancing transplants. Guests at The Party enjoyed fine cuisine (Four Seasons, City Tap House Logan, Serafina, Brown Betty and Night Kitchen, to name a few) and spirits, during their break from the real party which was happening on the dance floor to the sounds of Eddie Tully and songstress Jessy Kyle.

Photos after the jump »

Griesing Law’s Fifth Anniversary

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On Thursday night, Griesing Law celebrated its fifth anniversary with a party themed “fashion, food and spirits.” More than 200 of their friends, clients and supporters came to the firm’s offices to celebrate. Guests enjoyed specialty cocktails, a buffet which included treats from Zama, DiBrunos, and Federal Donuts. Denise Fike was on hand to personally sketch each guest. There was also a art exhibit called “City Bites”, It’s the ninth show at Griesing Law since 2010. The firm is dedicated to supporting the arts in Philadelphia with a rolling schedule of artist showcases all open to the public. Painter Mike Geno and photographer Michael Persico created art focused on Philadelphia chefs, restaurants and bakeries, The show runs from March 27th through August 31st- Monday Through Friday 9AM -5PM. 1717 Arch Street, Suite 3630. Anyone can attend for free.

Photos after the jump »

Red & White Ball for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Philadelphia

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On Saturday night, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Eastern Pennsylvania held their 2nd annual Red & White Ball at the Westin Hotel in Center City. More than 500 well-dressed attendees wearing the colors of the night — red and white — walked the red carpet and posed for photos, before joining the cocktail party and checking out the silent auction items ranging from trips, to experiences to sports outings. There was also a raffle to win a brand new 2015 Mercedes-Benz SUV.

At 8 p.m. guests headed into the dinner in the Grand Ballroom to honor a courageous young woman, 15-year-old Karlee Hofmann, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) as a child and lost the use of her legs, but with treatment beat cancer. She attends Council Rock High School, has lots of friends, participates in many activities and is a remarkable cheerleader. (You can make a donation in her honor here).

Photos from the Red & White Ball after the jump »

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Annual Gala and Concert

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Friday night The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO) organization hosted its annual gala and concert, an evening of music, art and dining at the Union League in Center City. Board chair Frank Giordano and president and music director Louis Scaglione were on hand at the cocktail party where they greeted guests who dined on light bites and checked out the art show and sale by the prestigious Studio Incamminati artists, many of who were on hand for the event.

After the cocktail party, guests headed into the Grant Ballroom for dinner. It was there that Mayor Michael Nutter was presented the Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Support of Arts, Culture and Education in the City of Philadelphia by Giordano and Scaglione. After dinner the guests headed upstairs to Lincoln Hall for the 75th Anniversary concert by the The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.

Photos from the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra gala after the jump »

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