Gatsby Christmas Honors 'Peace at Home'
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