Under a Brocade Sky charms guests with elegance and grace

VERO BEACH — The Elks Lodge was transformed into an Indian themed wonderland for the Children’s Home Society benefit, Rockin’ Vero Beach Under a Brocade Sky on Friday, February 12.  Guests, blown in by a blustery, rainy night, entered a strikingly beautiful room that was bathed in warm lighting and cocooned in elegance with the use of deep pink, silk wall coverings.  Bursts of gold and hot pink on the shimmering tablecloths and gorgeous floral centerpieces, elegant gold and black chairs, gold chargers and flickering candlelight all contributed to give the room an incandescent effect.

Bright spots of color also appeared on the silks and brocades worn by many of the guests, and several of the event’s committee members were dazzling in traditional Indian saris.  Navini Coakley, who moved to the United States from India nine years ago, helped the committee to maintain the authenticity of the decor and menu.  Looking stunning in a royal blue silk sari embellished with silver thread and crystals Coakley admitted, “It’s the first time I’ve worn it since I moved to the United States.”

She had also loaned some of her saris to event co-chairs Rebecca Emmons and Melissa Shine and earlier in the week they, and other who would be wearing the traditional garb, got together for a sari party to learn how to wear them.  Lest you think it looks simple, consider that there is 26 feet of fabric that must be gracefully and securely wrapped and draped.  Coakley’s lessons definitely paid off though, as they all looked gorgeous.

Committee member Sara Beth Kennedy was wearing a lovely light green and gold sari that she purchased when she lived for a year in India.  Kennedy, from a long-time Vero Beach family (as in 100 years), is a GIA certified gemologist who designs one-of-a-kind 18K gold jewelry inspired by traditional Indian influences; she sells the jewelry on-line through her company, The Jewelry Star.

When I asked where the idea came for the Indian themed party, co-chair Rebecca Emmons, resplendent in a silver-hued sari and forehead bindi, said, “We wanted to come up with something totally different, that nobody else has done and we thought the vibrant fabrics and colors and Indian food would be interesting.”

Her co-chair Melissa Shine, shimmering in a maroon and gold sari, added, “We had a great time planning and putting it together.  It’s completely transformed the room.  Everyone has been amazed; even the Elks Lodge people.  It’s a real showcase event.”

Rockin’ Vero Beach has been held at various locations, from its early days beachside to the large Corporate Air hangar the past few years.  But planners found they could save a considerable amount, in decor alone, by having it in a smaller venue; the Elks Lodge had the added value of being a more central location.  Every penny they saved will help them to meet their goal of raising $4.5 million by the end of June for the Youth Transition Center.

I caught up with Lawrence Brooks who will be stepping down as CHS Executive Director in April to move to New Jersey.  “It’s an exciting time for CHS.  What I’m most excited about is improving the vocational aspect for the kids through the Transitional Living Program, to help their chances in the job market.”

The search for the new CHS executive director is being led Marta Schneider, board chair of the Indian River County CHS and Judy Weber, Martin County CHS board chair

A cocktail hour gave time to peruse and bid on the numerous silent auction items and get into the flavor of the evening with Indian influenced hors d’oeuvres and mango martinis.  Guests could also purchase chances on a Rolex watch donated by Leigh Jewelers or fill out pledge cards hanging from the creatively designed Giving Tree for the daily necessities of YTC residents.

Elizabeth Kennedy Catering and Taste of India from Port St. Lucie collaborated on the traditional Indian menu, which included Potato Samoosa (stuffed pastry), Chicken Tikka Masala (broiled in a Tandoor oven and cooked in a creamy tomato sauce) with sides and accompaniments such as Channa Masala (slowly simmered chick peas), Indian breads and relishes, a duo of pistachio based desserts and Indian confectionery.

Auctioneer George Blythe presided over the live auction which featured a host of fabulous trips to Maine, Aruba, New York and Italy, exciting cruises, cases of wine, a commissioned painting by Highwayman Jimmy Stovall.

The band 5th Avenue got the place going after dinner as everyone took to the dance floor to really do some Rockin’ Vero Beach.  The late night crowd started filtering in at 9 for the additional Brocade After Dark nightclub component that offered a less expensive option for the younger generation and gave them a chance to dance into the wee hours, which of course in Vero means 11:30.

The Youth Transition Center offers teens who turn 18 and age out of foster care a safe place to live.  It also provides mentors who can help guide them in securing their first jobs and help them to learn the daily living and social skills that will enable them to become self-sufficient.  Additionally, Children’s Home Society has finalized more than 80 adoptions this past year and is engaged in research projects on the traumas of foster care. {igallery 148}

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