Tumba La Casa helps raise the roof for Children’s Home Society

VERO BEACH — Following on the footsteps of its Indian-themed Under a Brocade Sky fundraiser this past February, Children’s Home Society continued the international flair, taking guests this time on a trip to Guatemala with Tumba La Casa.  The lush grounds and greenhouses of Rock City Gardens were an ideal setting for the event, and organizers had decorated inside and out with bright floral colors to compliment Mother Nature’s own.

Guests, garbed in colorful resort wear, arrived down trellis lined pathways with fragrant jasmine and flowering climbers luring them into a tropical Latin adventure.

Children’s Home Society board member Melissa Shine said they had targeted an energetic dancing crowd through the engagement of Guatemala’s number one rock band, El Tambor de la Tribu. “Meredith’s [Vey] brother-in-law is in the band so there were family ties to Vero Beach.  They played at the wedding of Marta Schneider’s daughter in Guatemala, and she thought they were amazing.  They’re donating their time; we just flew them up here.”

Last year’s event was held at the Heritage Center and the committee realized that they would need a bigger venue this time.  Committee member Navini Coakley works with Rock City Gardens, which turned out to be just the right spot.

“The people at Rock City have put a lot of time and effort into it,” said Shine.

Kimberly Oglethorpe chaired the event which, in addition to raising needed funds, also helps to raise awareness of the organization’s mission.

Said Shine, “Response has been great; we have five VIP tables filled with people from Windsor this year, and there are lots of other new faces.”

Just inside the entrance to the main tent, guests were purchasing chances for a Pick your Piñata raffle drawing.  Several colorful Piñatas had each been filled with various gift certificates for prizes such as a stay at the Breakers, spa baskets and paintings by Joe Canacho and Highwayman artist Willie Regan.

This is only the second year for Tumba La Casa and, according to event coordinator Meredith Vey, attendance tripled, with approximately 325 guests this time.

“Rock City has been amazing.  It’s a great event venue.  You don’t even have to decorate; nature does it for you,” said Vey.

When asked about the event name, she smiled and agreed that the literal translation, Bring down the House, is a bit of a puzzler.

“It comes from an old Latin party song and we liked the sound of it as a festive name.  It’s a fast, upbeat song, and we wanted to evoke that feeling with the party.”

Events at Rock City Gardens are generally held outdoors, throughout their expansive gardens, and when I asked owner Rhonda Lowe about the new greenhouse usage she explained, “We had a wedding for the first time in the greenhouse; they’re usually filled with plants!  But rather than having people rent tents, we realized this is perfect.”

Colorful fabric draped from the greenhouse rafters as did large, white nylon Japanese lanterns that had been filled with multi-colored light bulbs, giving the greenhouses a particularly festive look.

There was a full bar available, but many were taking advantage of the strawberry and lime flavored Margaritas, while others chose from a selection of beers from the Guatemala’s brewery, Cervecería Centro Americana.

Latin-themed food stations, catered by Francine Morgan of Saint Edward’s School, were primarily set up inside a second, connected greenhouse tent.  Guests enjoyed grazing all night long on made to order quesadillas and burritos, mango gazpacho shooters, ham croquettes, beef empanadas, coconut chicken, smoked salmon pate, and lots of other tasty hors d’oeuvres.  Later in the evening, there was a selection of Latin desserts served with spiced hot chocolate.

Marta Schneider, Children’s Home Society Indian River Advisory Board Chair, gave a brief introduction, thanking sponsors for making the event possible, committee members for the terrific job they had done and guests for attending.

“I can’t begin to tell you the number of children you are helping,” said Schneider.

She was also thrilled with an occurrence earlier in the day saying, “It’s a red letter day for Children’s Home Society.  The house at Oak Harbor that had been donated to us sold today, adding $150,000 to our campaign.”

The Kresge Foundation has issued the Children’s Home Society a Challenge Grant.  If CHS can raise $4.5 million towards its Youth Transition Center capital campaign goal of $5 million by June, 2010, the Foundation will grant the final $500,000.

And then it was time for some dancing as the lively sounds of El Tambor de la Tribu filled the greenhouse.  The talented group attracted people onto the dance floor well into the night, with a spicy selection of Latin music merged with a dynamic mix of rock, reggae and soul.

Children’s Home Society helps to improve the lives of children and families through its adoption, education, transitional living, advocacy, case management and housing programs.  Its Youth Transition Center offers teens who turn 18 and age out of foster care a safe place to live, and provides mentors to help guide them in securing jobs and learning daily living and social skills to enable them to become self-sufficient. {igallery 186}

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