Runaway Spoon

Never count these women out

November 11, 2011

More than 600 women, almost all with a sense of mission and spanning several eras of life, showed up in multitudes Thursday night for the Knock Out Abuse Against Women’s dinner party at the Ritz-Carlton in the West End.  They were there ready to network, ready to rumble and ready to show their support with their credit cards for the cause: benefitting victims of domestic abuse.

Melisa Davis (left) and her aunt Cheryl Masri (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Melisa Davis (left) and her aunt Cheryl Masri
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who has led in action to fight domestic abuse in his state, recounted how a beloved cousin of his was murdered by an estranged boyfriend. He has advanced initiatives such as taking guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and strengthening protections for tenants who are victims of domestic violence.

Novelist and lawyer Linda Fairstein, who led the Sex Crimes Unit of the District Attorney’s office in Manhattan for 25 years, was presented with the 2011 Legend Award for her service. She said that domestic abuse has reached “epidemic proportions” in the United States.

In the live auction, the bidding was brisk to score a dinner for eight at Cafe Milano with former Washington Redskin running back Clinton Portis, now a free agent; the meal sold for $6,000 after he performed a little strip tease to encourage the competition.

Cheryl Masri  and Jill Sorensen, co-founded the organization 18 years ago as a female nuclear core group met at Cafe Milano.  Left alone, their boyfriends and spouses were attending a male-orientated, cigar-smoking boxing charity event across town at the Washington Hilton Hotel.  As a counter-move, they launched Knock Out Abuse Against Women. With their PR skills and vast rolodexes, the charity dinner became a quick success. 

The charity’s logo -- a boxing glove delicately clutching a rose – is now a recognizable emblem embedded in the minds of women who faithfully attend the dinner year after year.

Amy K Greenlee (left) and Tracey Ellis (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Amy K Greenlee (left) and Tracey Ellis

Jaci Wilson Reid was the 2011 event chair and Andrea Roane of WUSA channel 9 the emcee.

Debra Sigmund (right), founder, Innocents at Risk, and a fellow guest (left) (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Debra Sigmund (right), founder, Innocents at Risk, and a fellow guest (left)
Money raised this year will go to four charitable organizations: Bethany House in Falls Church, Safe Shores in Washington D.C., DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, and Crossway Community in Kensington.  

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Spreading the love

November 3, 2011

Starlight Children’s Foundation MidAtlantic will honor Georgetown University Hospital’s Department of Pediatrics and Franco Nuschese, principal owner of Cafe Milano, at its annual Taste of the Stars Gala on Saturday Nov. 19 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown.

The Peter Samuelson Founders Award will go to Georgetown University Hospital’s Department of Pediatrics, for its “significant and ongoing contributions to the healing of and service to critically ill children.” Accepting award on behalf of the department will be Dr. David B. Nelson, chair and professor, the Pediatrics Department.

Dr. David B. Nelson (Photo by: Starlight Children's Foundation MidAtlantic) Dr. David B. Nelson
“Georgetown’s clinicians, researchers and are teams have transformed health care for children in and around Washington, D.C.,” said Dr. Tom Woteki, chairman of the board of directors for Starlight Children’s Foundation MidAtlantic. “Georgetown University, a leading pediatric clinical research facility, is a national leader in developing techniques and new therapies to support our children’s emotional and physical well being."

Franco Nuschese (Photo by: Yvonne Taylor) Franco Nuschese
Nuschese will receive the Community Star Award. This award recognizes an individual whose leadership sets the standard of excellence in contributing to the health and well-being of children and their families. 

"There is no better choice for our Starlight Community Star Award than Mr. Nuschese," said Jim Bell, gala chairman and member of the foundation’s board of directors.

“Franco has dedicated time and resources to his community and caring for those who are most likely to be left behind. He is a true community star who recognizes the importance of being involved, taking initiative, and solving problems in the communities.”

Since 1999, foundation has been helping seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities. Last year, Starlight MidAtlantic provided over 2 million hours of entertainment in the hospital, in the community and on the Web, for 220,000 children and their families in the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.



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Italian and presidential power link up

October 30, 2011

A national Italian television program is filming this week at Cafe Milano for a show to air in Italy on prominent Italian Americans in the United States. One of the featured TV stars is Amalfi Coast-born Franco Nuschese, principal owner of the Georgetown restaurant.

Nancy Pelosi (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Nancy Pelosi
The TV crew was at the National Italian American Foundation’s exclusive gala-eve dinner Friday night, packing Cafe Milano and its tented-for-the-occasion patio areas to accommodate several hundred high-up Italian-Americans, including Italian Ambassador Giuliomaria Terzi di Sant’Agata, U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and General Peter  Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.   Famous faces included Joe “ Joey Pants” Pantoliano , known for his role in the TV series “The Sopranos” and the film, “The Matrix;”  former Los Angeles Dodgers and York Mets catcher Mike Piazza; and Tony LoBianco, actor in "The French Connection."

On Saturday night, the TV cameras were at the NIAF gala at the Washington Hilton, where President Obama lavished praise on the music, cuisine, architecture, sculpture and other aspects of Italian culture. 

Actress Sophia Loren, he said, is "my favorite." And, he added with a wicked grin: "What would politics be like without the likes of Machiavelli ... especially in Washington."

He said he has no Italian blood and can't cook. "All I've got is that my last name ends in a vowel."

Joey (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Joey
Filming at Cafe Milano and other locations around Georgetown, including on Georgetown University’s campus, and the wider metropolitan area will take place through Nov. 4. 

The television program is “Sognando Italia” and will air on Mediaset’s Retequattro  during the second half of November. The show is a co-production between Project I SRL and Mediaset RTI.

Fabio at gala (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Fabio at gala
Other Italian Americans from New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans and Miami also are subjects of the program.

The first season of the hour-long program, hosted by the blonde and model-slender Morgan Witkin , will consist of 11 episodes. The first 10 episodes will focus on extraordinary Italian individuals and how they integrate Italian culture and heritages into their daily lives in America and promote Italian society and traditions. The 11th and final episode will be about the NIAF gala, where Italian-Americans came together to honor their heritage, culture and achievements.

How many visiting Italian film crews are lucky enough to have the president on camera for one of their feature segments?  Answer: not many.

Maria  Bartiroma at gala (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Maria Bartiroma at gala
Receiving awards at the NIAF gala Saturday with mistress of ceremony CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, were Claudio Bozzo , president of Mediterranean Shipping Company; Ohio Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro ; Dion DiMucci , Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; former U.S. Congressman Frank J. GuariniFrank G. Mancuso Sr., former chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio;  Emma Marcegaglia, president of Confindustria; Paolo Scudieri, CEO of Adler Plastic S.p.A.; and Santo Versace, president of Gianni Versace, S.p.A.

President Obama (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) President Obama

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