Connor Barwin’s Make the World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser

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It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Bud Selig’s visit to Philadelphia and his comments about the Phillies being the most philanthropic team in the MLB. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t too shabby, either. There’s Brent Celek’s “Take Flight” Foundation for kids’ education, DeMeco Ryan’s Foundation supporting children’s healthy eating, and Todd Herremans Foundation, which raises money for various children’s charities in need.

Now Connor Barwin has started a foundation called the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB is an acronym for his parents’ names: Margret Thomas and William Barwin). Friday night Barwin hosted a concert at Union Transfer to raise money for Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker Streets, a park in need of renovation that Barwin would pass on his bike rides to “work” from his Rittenhouse Square residence. Plans were already underway to revitalize the park; they just needed that extra push — including money to meet the goals set out by the organizations that were in place, including Urban Roots, the ACE Mentor Program, and the Philadelphia Water Department.

The major fundraiser to get them over the hurdle was held Friday night at Union Transfer where Connor Barwin hosted a VIP cocktail party were fans could meet their favorite players. Afterward there was a concert where Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Districts and The Tontons played to a sold-out crowd. The artists donated their services to the organization as did the music hall, along with all proceeds from the bar that evening. When the total is tallied, Connor Barwin is going to match it. In no time, the Ralph Brooks Park will be a safe place for kids to play again.

Connor Barwin’s Make The World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser »

Annual Rittenhouse Ball on the Square

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Last night, Rittenhouse Square held its annual Ball on the Square. Nearly 370 well-dressed guests attended. The dress was jackets for guys and gowns for women enduring the near summer heat and humidity for a good cause.

The annual celebration brings much-needed funds for the maintenance of the popular square; last night it was especially sweet as the Friends of Rittenhouse Square met their goal for the One Million Dollar Preservation Campaign. The campaign started under last year’s ball chairs Mary Parenti and Lynn Schecter, and was completed with the efforts of the 2014 ball chairs Janice Birenbaum and Nina Stanley and the ball committee.

Today, walking through the park you can see the improvements: increased lighting, security cameras, the restored and cleaned balustrade, and the illuminated guardhouse and lion. Next up: The restoration of the fountain.

Rittenhouse Ball on the Square »

Marc Vetri’s 9th Annual Great Chefs at Urban Outfitters

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More than 1,200 guests attended the 9th Annual Great Chefs Event on Tuesday, June 10th. The yearly eating party thrown by Philadelphia superchef Marc Vetri was held at Urban Outfitters in the Navy Yard, with proceeds going to help Alex’s Lemonade Stand eradicate childhood cancer, and to the Vetri Foundation for Children. Neuroblastoma took Alex Scott’s life when she was eight, and her parents, Jay and Liz Scott, carry on her goal of helping doctors find a cure for the disease.

The event attracts four dozen top chefs from the U.S. and Italy who created delicious dishes that people raved over all night long. The event featured a live auction that brought in $80,000 and a silent auction — which included clothing, lavish trips, sports tickets and experiences — that raised nearly $100,000.

Later that evening I headed over to Vetri’s restaurant on North Broad, Alla Spina, for the after-party. There I found many of the volunteer chefs, sponsors and ticketed guests enjoying a delicious spread by the Vetri Family, and friends including Sweet Box Bakery, Debragga meat, Nomad Pizza to name a few. Behind the turntables was The Roots’ Questlove, who appears at the after-party annually and packs the dance floor from start to finish. It’s always a highlight of the evening.

Marc Vetri’s 9th Annual Great Chefs at Urban Outfitters »

Project HOME 25th Anniversary Gala and Jon Bon Jovi Soul Homes Grand Opening

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Last night, Project HOME celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a gala event at the Marriott Downtown Philadelphia. Co-chairs Dorothy and David Binswanger, Pam Estadt and Ira Lubert, and Frannie and James Maguire were on hand to honor Leigh and John Middleton with the 2014 Golden Heart for their eight years of philanthropic work with Project HOME. (They have given more than $30 million to Project H.O.M.E. to fight homelessness.)

Earlier in the day, the Middletons were on hand for the grand opening of the JBJ Soul Homes with namesake Jon Bon Jovi. The 55-unit building, which will also have offices and retail spaces, opened in the Francisville neighborhood after about 18 months of construction. Bon Jovi’s Soul Foundation provided the lead gift for the $20 million project in a partnership with Project H.O.M.E. When you enter the building there’s a quote from a Bon Jovi song — “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” — welcoming homeless and low-income residents.

Project HOME 25th Anniversary Gala and Jon Bon Jovi Soul Homes Grand Opening »

The First Annual Philly Sports Roast Featuring Terrell Owens

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Last night Philly’s funny man and impressionist extraordinaire Joe Conklin and WIP on-air sports savant and Wing Bowl creator Al Morganti presented the “The First Annual Philly Sports Roast” at the Crystal Tea Room. More than 600 people filled the room to see former Eagle and NFL bad boy Terrell Owens roasted by media personalities, politicians, former and current Eagle players, and Damon Feldman.

In a no-holds-barred night, everything was on the table: marriages, baby mamas (four), salaries, tights, his big ego and even, shockingly, suicide attempts. Proceeds from the evening went to firefighters support organization All Hands Working.

A couple of the zingers at the event: “Former Eagles defensive tackle Hollis Thomas is here tonight. Look at that guy. Hollis, are you OK? You’re sweating profusely. I haven’t seen someone sweat this much since Freddie Mitchell’s tax audit.” And: “Joe Conklin, Man of 1,000 voices, and he can’t get laid in any of them.”

More of Hughe’s photos and account from the First Annual Philly Sports Roast after the jump »

2013 Marian Anderson Award Given to Berry Gordy at the Kimmel Center

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The 2013 Marian Anderson Award was held last night at the Kimmel Center. Motown founder Berry Gordy was this year’s recipient. Major performers such as Smokey Robinson, Boyz II Men, Kool & The Gang, Chris Tucker, Cody Wise, Brandon Victor Dixon (who portrays Gordy in Motown the Musical on Broadway) Philly producers/songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon A. Huff, as well as musical director Bill Jolly, paid tribute to the iconic philanthropist and music legend.

See HughE’s photos from the Marian Anderson Awards after the jump »

Young Friends of the Academy of Music’s Monsters Ball

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The Young Friends of the Academy of Music held their annual Monster’s Ball on Wednesday night at Pennsylvania Six (114 South 12th Street). Proceeds from the event go to the Academy of Music Restoration Fund. This year the Academy’s 157th Anniversary Ball and concert will be held on Saturday, January 25th, 2014, with the Philadelphia Orchestra and special guest singer Jill Scott.
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Pennsylvania Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Gala

Pennsylvania Ballet opened its 50th anniversary season with a celebration of pure, luxurious beauty with the company premiere of George Balanchine's Jewels last week at the Academy of Music, and on Saturday they celebrated with their 50th anniversary gala at the Crystal Tea Room.

The Pennsylvania Ballet opened its 50th anniversary season with a celebration of pure, luxurious beauty with the company premiere of George Balanchine’s Jewels last week at the Academy of Music. On Saturday they celebrated with their 50th anniversary gala at the Crystal Tea Room.

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Grand Reopening of Historic Strawberry Mansion

Philadelphia VIPs celebrated the official Grand Reopening of Historic Strawberry Mansion in Fairmount Park. The four-year restoration and preservation efforts of the largest historic house in Fairmount Park, including its collection of antiques, fine art and collectible treasures from the 18th and 19th century, were on display. A cocktail reception was provided by Brûlée Catering.

Philadelphia VIPs celebrated the official Grand Reopening of Historic Strawberry Mansion in Fairmount Park. The four-year restoration and preservation efforts of the largest historic house in Fairmount Park, including its collection of antiques, fine art and collectible treasures from the 18th and 19th century, were on display. A cocktail reception was provided by Brûlée Catering.

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