This blog is guest written by Mirella Cameran, whose name you’ve probably seen in St. Charles Avenue and New Orleans Bride magazines, as well as on committee listings for events around town. Familiar with both “scenes,” Mirella shares her thoughts this week:
Growing up in London, my impression of New Orleans was that of a party town. The name conjured up images of jazz, riotous steamboats and musicians playing banjos in straw hats. Clearly, this wasn’t an informed view and one that I’m now embarrassed by.
When I started visiting New OrLEENs (as I called it), the party town image held true, but it evolved through the obligatory visits to Bourbon Street, the Marigny and Mardi Gras festivities.
On moving here, I was lucky enough to begin to enjoy delightful soirées often set in the most beautiful homes and historic venues; and the city’s image moved on once again.
This time, with firsthand experience, I was able to look beyond the gorgeous venues, beautiful outfits and delicious culinary options. I soon realized that behind each wonderful party was a wonderful cause.
Moreover, I came to see that most of these parties, just as glamorous as those you’ll see in The New York Times Style section, were run by small, dedicated in-house teams and groups of women and men, although honestly mostly women in my experience, who selflessly give huge amounts of time, creativity and resources to make these events happen. They do so because so many of this city’s institutions rely on these fundraisers for their survival and/or development.
This philanthropy isn’t the old version you’ll see satirized in the film, "The Help." These aren’t women sitting around with nothing better to do than assuage some guilty secrets. No, these women, whom I see in action every day are often juggling the demands of children, home, school, church and careers. I see these women towards the end of the summer until the end of the ‘season,’ in my favorite coffee spots around town with huge files and laptops, working on their causes.
I’ve never actually lived in a city (and I’ve lived in a few around the world) that is so reliant upon the individual. It was an eye-opener that so many people give so much to make New Orleans a better place to be. It’s a tribute to the city and how much y’all love the place!
So as the ‘season,’ which promises to be one of the best, is getting started, here are some highlights of what these hard-working, civic minded, modern day philanthropists have in store:
The Brees Foundation: Between playing record-breaking football (Well done young man!) and raising a beautiful young family, Drew and his wife Brittany are relentless in giving back. This year, the couple launched their 9 Brand, with an exceptionally cool looking black and silver T-shirt, with some of the proceeds going to the foundation. The foundation has a mission to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need. This year, by the time of the Super Bowl, they will have committed or contributed more than $15 million.
Whitney Zoo-To-Do and Kids Zoo-To-Do presented by Humana: In the year when New Orleans hosts the Super Bowl, local resident Olivia Manning (wife to Archie, mother to Eli, Peyton and Cooper, and grandmother to numerous gorgeous little ones) has taken on the role of chair of the Zoo-To-Do Fri., May 3, 2013. Olivia is joined by Dr. Anne Long (an ENT specialist) who will chair the Kids Zoo-To-Do Fri., April 26, 2013. No doubt this will be a record-breaking year with rumors of new sponsorship by Harley Davidson and an auction to put Orbitz out of business.
Sentimental Journeys: By taking a year off, the folks at Longue Vue House & Gardens have come up with a way to reinvent and re-launch this significant fundraiser. Caroline Robert (owner of perch. on Magazine Street) will be hosting a fabulous party with co-chair Daphne Berger, at her incredible home on Audubon Place. A fun cocktail party with a Venetian theme will be brought up-to-date with a Ferrari display and delicious dishes from Galatoire’s.
Eden House: This is one of the newest charities in the city, set up by ex-diplomat Kara Van de Carr. It helps the victims of human trafficking by establishing a safe house in New Orleans. Its fundraiser is on Thurs., Nov. 15, at the Touro Synagogue on St. Charles Avenue. It promises to be the quickest event of its type. Lasting only from 6 to 7 p.m., it’s also free to attend. Despite this, Ms. French is hoping to raise even more than the $100,000 that was donated last time during a similar evening.
The Sugarplum Ball: Christy Kane, co-chairing with Betsey Todd, this year is working on plans for the old Ursuline covent in the French Quarter where this night for Children’s Hospital will be held on Friday, March 8, 2013. Benefitting the Autism Center, the theme this year will be “Midnight in Paris.”
The Renaissance Party: This year co-chaired by Chad Graci, Logan Howcott and Adrienne Casbarian, and always supported by sisters Ellen Manning, Molly Silvia and Jane Heidingsfelder, this fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, at the Renaissance Arts Hotel downtown. No doubt, guests will be hard pressed to choose between the fabulous food, drink, great auction items and must-dance-to band.