Immersed in the holiday season, we all get the urge to adopt some Santa qualities and help others in need. We look on with awe at homes decked-out with perfection in holiday décor … And, we might secretly wonder who has the time and the ability to decorate or organize a fundraiser during the holidays.
My dear friend, Don Patron, has made combining art, thematic, stylized parties and philanthropy into a lifestyle.
I had the opportunity to visit Don, who, once again was busy preparing to open his Capitol Hill home with gracious hospitality, creating Gatsby Christmas, an event, 3-D art installation and holiday decorating masterpiece dedicated to raising money for Becky’s Fund. Specifically organized to fund "Peace at Home," Gatsby Christmas assists and supports military families affected by PTSD and domestic violence.
Don and Becky Lee, the founder & executive director of Becky’s Fund, got to work in early November decorating every nook and crevice of the interior and exterior of the historic home, revealing a captivating delight of lights and ornamentation.
As for how the name of the event – Gatsby Christmas – came to be, Don said, “Creatively I like what is both classic and current-- Gatsby is popular again with a new big budget movie release … And it’s also an American classic we all can relate to because our time is quite similar to the roaring 20’s. We had the new development of an equality push for woman in the 20’s. And today, it’s all about gay rights. We are in the end of the war like the 20s’; and prohibition of alcohol is similar to the legalization of marijuana today. There are layers of that time and this time that certainly overlap and create a high drama energy that makes social change certain.”
Stylish and detail-driven as Jay Gatsby, the novel's protagonist, Don's attention to detail is incredible. Boxes and boxes of ornaments, lights, feathers, flowers and sparkles are strewn everywhere. Looking on in sheer amazement I asked myself, "How does one go about turning an entire home and back yard into a Christmas extravaganza?"
As Don explained, “When you come to any event I decoCreate, you'll see I'm trying to offer a unique glimpse at art in a more intimate, interactive way … My hope is to inspire, educate and entertain.”
Describing his motivation, he continued, “The connection between art and philanthropy is forged by my deep spiritual belief that both disciplines are creative truth engines. To be an artist of our time is to understand that all culture has an ethical duty to betterment ... Art without this is simply commerce and misses its responsibility to the human spirit.”
Friends of Don and Becky have been volunteering their time to help put up lights; trim Christmas trees; and take directives from Don on what needs to go where.
Becky Lee said as she wrapped packages to place as decorations under the tree, “It's important to note the highest rates of domestic violence take place during the holidays. One in three women and one in six men will be affected by domestic violence.” Becky quoted a recent study where 21 of the 32 NFL teams have had at least one player on their team get into trouble for domestic violence or sexual assault.
Becky said, “There is help and support. The first step comes from within. It is such a private issue. Hopefully, the party will encourage those impacted to come forward and get support.”
Don Patron painted an Angel Collection of paintings featuring Becky’s Fund volunteers, donors and survivors. The paintings were on display during the party for guests to see that both victims of domestic violence and those working to help stop it look like you or someone you know. Domestic violence crosses all socio-economic brackets and ethnicity.
Don also painted Winter Wonderland for the party using watercolors, coffee grounds and 18kt. gold paint.
As for how the name of the event – Gatsby Christmas – came to be, Don said, “Creatively I like what is both Classic and Current-- Gatsby is on the mind in pop culture-wise with a new big budget movie release … It’s also an American classic we all relate to because current times are mostlike the roaring 20’s ... We had the new development of an Equality push for woman in the roaring 20’s. Today, it’s all about gay rights. We are in the end of the war like the 20s’; and prohibition of alcohol is similar to the legalization of marijuana today. There are layers of that time and this time that certainly overlap and create a high drama energy that makes certain for social change.”
Don encourages everyone this holiday season, “To give and not gift – to support not just spend and to create change with experience for its not enough in empathy to just understand..” Donations to Becky’s Fund which fosters awareness of domestic violence, encourages advocacy among peers, promotes activism through outreach programs and creates support for victims may be made by going to Becky's Fund.
Written by Janine Schoonover, CEO of JSW Group
When Steve and Helene Bayder moved into their two-bedroom condo in Dumbarton Place, an office building turned luxury residences between Georgetown and Dupont Circle, in 2006 they didn’t expect to renovate. But the couple felt they were constantly running into walls, which divided the home’s 1,600 square feet into several different rooms.
So, the couple reached out to architect Andreas Charalambous of U Street-based Forma Design to completely rethink the space.
First, they decided that walls needed to come down. A sunroom offered a bright nook, but kept some sun from hitting other rooms. The architect took down the walls, opened up the floor plan of the living room, dining room and kitchen, and allowed a flood of light to enter the main living area. The resulting renovations also allowed the dining room to open up to the outside.
Next, built-ins and extra storage were created to house the Bayder’s belongings. The couple previously lived in a large home in the suburbs. “The bedroom has no furniture,” Steve told us, just a bed, a closet and built-ins. The second bedroom is optimized to be an office.
With the renovations, the unit exuded a much more modern feel, and in 2009, it won Washington Spaces “Best of Interior Design” competition. The Bayders wouldn’t be selling the home, but they have retired and heading to a warmer climate.
Open house is this Sunday, December 2nd from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Condo is at 1414 22nd Street NW, #44.
Written by Shilipi Paul of Urban Turf
Horton's Kids Give Thanks & Give Back Gala was held Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at House of Sweden with Jon Scott, Co-Anchor for FOX News "Happening Now" coming down from New York City to serve as emcee. Over 200 people attended raising $100,000 to support Horton's Kids programs.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke to the significance of non-profits such as Horton's Kids telling a story about how a program similar to Horton's Kids provided clothes, food, and educational mentoring to his father as a boy and how his father then brought him up to believe in the opportunities a good education provides. Secretary Duncan also addressed the importance of strengthening the D.C. public school system so that every single school in D.C. will be a great public school and become a great urban school system recognized world wide. His father taught him from first-hand experience that if children are hungry it is hard to learn. On that note, Secretary Duncan encouraged everyone to reach a little deeper into their pocket to support Horton's Kids.
Dan Walsh, president of the Horton's Kids Board of Directors, reviewed the significant progress of Horton's Kids, including the make-over of the community resource center with support of First Lady Michelle Obama, Microsoft, Home Depot, and the Food Network. Walsh also gave the Horton's Hero Award to the Give Thanks & Give Back event founders and Horton's Kids Board Members, Liz Dougherty and Mary Ellen Matheson, noting that the event has grown in size and donations over the past four years.
Jenny Zinn of The Magic Wardrobe got many Georgetown businesses to contributed to the silent auction, including: The Dandelion Patch; Macaroon Bee; The Magic Wardrobe; Salon Pejman; Ella-Rue; Potomac Wine & Spirit; Filomena's; Lush; Cafe Bonaparte; The Boomerang Boat; and a photo shoot styled by Jenny and photographed by Liam Gideon.
A private bourbon flight tasting for you and your guests at Jack Rose Dining Saloon sparked much interest and conversation. Georgetown photographer, Tom Quiggle, donated his photography services; JSWGroup and OtimWilliams donated their PR services; and House of Sweden provided a budget-friendly venue. Wine Spirit Wholesalers of America and National Beer Wholesalers Association donated the wine, spirits and beer for the event.
Event Co-Chairs include Lawton and Craig Cummings; Liz and Paul Dougherty; Fernanda Fisher; Juleanna Glover; Kelly and Joh Lugar; Mary Ellen and Colvin Matheson; Emily and John Pappas; Madeline Ramos; Liz and Dave Roberts; Janine Schoonover; Hannah and Mark Simone; Bill Starrels; and Jim Wilcox.
Horton's Kids Community Resource Center provides nutritious meals and healthy food; family education and empowerment; career and life skills; school uniforms and supplies; clothing and shoes; holiday celebrations; and educational advocacy. To make a donation or contribute food to the food panty for the Holiday season, please contact Lisa Peri, Director of Development, at 202.805.3475. Horton's Kids is a recipient of The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.
Written by Janine Schoonover, CEO of JSW Group