Cabaret and caring helps Homeless Family Center

VERO BEACH — A sold-out crowd answered the call to “Come to the Cabaret,” for a cause of course, at the Fifth Annual Dinner to benefit the Homeless Family Center.  Supporters were entertained at the Quail Valley River Club with an evening that began with cocktails and lively bidding on an abundant selection of silent auction items. Lorne Coyle, appointed as the HFC’s new executive director in August, was happily meeting and greeting each arriving guest.  “I’m really pleased with all the support,” he said.

Pockets of friends had come to enjoy the event together, including the Sassy Seven, an animated group of women who pointed to Deb Branwell as their spokesperson.

“We wanted to find a way to stay connected in our busy lives,” explained Branwell.  “We get together for each other’s birthdays and generally support each other in our journeys through life; no matter what that journey might be.”

“I’m their mascot,” laughed Champ Sheridan, whose wife Debbie is part of the group.

The George E. Warren Corporation, the event’s presenting sponsor, has been a steadfast benefactor of the organization.  Another staunch supporter is Tom Nelson, of the Nelson Wealth Management Group, who has been a major sponsor of the dinner since its inception five years ago.

“Homelessness can happen to anyone; so many become homeless all of a sudden.  They’re just unlucky,” said Nelson.  “This organization has always had a good strong board and management.  You know the money is going to the right place.”

“Going into the actual facility and seeing how people are turning their lives around makes it worthwhile,” added his wife Linda.

A martini glass motif was sustained throughout the evening, beginning with chances, tucked into martini glasses, to win an exquisite gold and peridot ring donated by John Michael Matthews.

The hard-working committee, led by event chair Liz Mayo, included decorating doyenne Carole Casey, who was excited about the martini themed decorations. 

“We have 42″ martini glasses on the tables with colossal olives,” Casey said. “They’re the biggest martinis you’ve ever seen.”

And she wasn’t kidding; the enormous glasses, set atop mirrors and surrounded by red votive candles, made thoroughly delightful centerpieces.

Entertainment was provided by former Kennedy Center pianist Paul Tardif, tickling the ivories of the club’s snowy baby grand.   The cabaret continued through dinner as guests enjoyed the bluesy and jazzy New Orleans style chanteuse Sybil Gage.

Quail Valley chefs worked their customary magic with a gourmet dinner featuring a duo of salmon and chicken Wellington.  But dessert took the cake, so to speak, as a flaming Baked Alaska was paraded through the room, accompanied by a rendition of This Joint is Jumping, performed by Gage.

The evening concluded with a poignant “call from the heart” performance by 11 children, currently living at the Homeless Family Center, singing the emotional song, Tomorrow.

“The Homeless Family Center is a wonderful cause,” said George E. Warren employee Norma Mellor. “It’s a really good environment.  The people living there help out with various chores; they can’t just sit on their kiesters.  It’s a wonderful resource and an excellent cause.”

The Homeless Family Center provides educational job training classes and other tools to assist in the search for wage paying jobs, with the ultimate goal of families moving into their own homes and becoming self-sufficient members of the community. {igallery 296}

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