Ninth annual Jazzy Holiday Tea raised record-high $20,000 for Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

A fashion show featuring women business leaders and dynamic volunteers was a highlight at the 9th annual Jazzy Holiday Tea, which raised more than $20,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit on Dec. 3 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

The holiday tea drew more than 80 guests who bonded with the guest emcees Fox 2 news anchor Charlie Langton and Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Denise Langford Morris as they told how the staff and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit care for families of children who are hospitalized.

Stephanie Oram, owner of Accessories by Stephanie in West Bloomfield, showed fashions by Joseph Ribkoff, paired with unique necklaces, bracelets and designer purses.

Langton and Judge Langford Morris described the fashions with great humor and also conducted a live auction of a cashmere poncho with a mink collar donated by Arthur Bricker of Bricker-Tunis Furs, which brought $500.

“The holiday tea is important to our expansion campaign to raise $3 million through the end of this year,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. She predicted the campaign would reach its goal and also announced that Crain’s Detroit Business recently named the House a finalist for its Best Managed Nonprofits 2016. (The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit was also a finalist in 2013.)

Event Chair and House Board Member Charlene Mitchell-Rodgers, of West Bloomfield, worked closely with the Ronald McDonald House staff, vendors, sponsors and the Townsend Hotel to make it a first-class event.

“The tea was magnificent. The mood of the guests was so positive and upbeat; people had fun,” said Mitchell-Rodgers. “We raised money and we raised another level of awareness about the House through our emcees and among guests, who posted pictures and positive comments on social media.”

Mike and Mike (violinist Michael Saxon and keyboard player Michael Evans) performed mellow jazz music. Sketch artist Darrell Swift drew caricatures of guests. A silent auction featured jewelry, home décor items and children’s gift baskets, donated by local merchants. HLT Flower Shop, formerly Wesley Berry Flowers, donated flower arrangements.

For families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, a $10 daily fee is charged for a guest room and use of common areas including a kitchen, laundry room, gathering space, playroom and serenity garden. No family is turned away due to a lack of funds.

GOah Noah! 8th annual bike, walk, 5K run to be held Oct. 1

The 8th Annual GOah Noah! bike ride, walk and 5K trail run will be held Saturday, Oct. 1, at Stony Creek Metropark to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. The 5K competitive trail run starts at 9:30 a.m., with an accompanying bike ride, and 5K walk starting near the West Branch picnic area.

The theme is Wellness! with exhibits and demonstrations by local wellness professionals. A D.J. and sketch artist will add to the festivities, and there will be a 50/50 drawing. Light refreshments will be provided. Event sponsors are McDonald’s, McCain, and Dr. Pepper.

All 5K runners will receive a medal. The race cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children, ages 12 and under. (After Sept. 25, the cost increases to $35 and $20. Registration begins at 9 a.m.) Pre-register online: https://www.rmhc-detroit.org/event/goah-noah-2016/ or call 313-745-5909. A $10 fee or Metropark pass is required for park entry.

Renee Sullivan, of Shelby Township, started the event to help parents cope with medical crises. It is named after her son, Noah Wexler, who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, medulloblastoma, at age 9. He survived and is thriving as a 17-year-old student in 11th grade at Utica High School.

The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit offers a home away from home to families who are dealing with serious health issues that require the hospitalization of a child. The majority of families who stay at the House are tending to children with cancer.

Sullivan said, “Noah has been cancer-free for eight years and wants to know what more he can do to give back to those who’ve helped us along the way. The staff and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit have helped thousands of families over the years. This is our way to contribute to the cause of helping families deal with and overcome their child’s cancer.”

“It’s always a great family event for people of all ages, from babies to seniors. There’s something for everyone. It really is a fun time,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. “Funds raised at this grassroots event will go toward our expansion campaign.”

Last year, Noah’s brother Jack Wexler, now 15, won first-place for his age group and was second place overall. Runners do it for fitness, fun or to win – it’s all about their goals.

Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea raised funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit raised nearly $10,000 at the Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea on Dec. 5 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. More than 90 guests attended the 8th annual festive event and many bought raffle tickets and bid on silent auction items, ranging from holiday gift baskets to a night for two at the Townsend Hotel. Jazz duo Mike and Mike (violinist Michael Saxon and keyboard player Michael Evans) performed.

Event sponsor Bricker-Tunis Furs showcased its new Italian collection with a fashion show narrated by jazz singer Kimmie Horne, who modeled exotic furs. Several board members and friends modeled men’s and women’s fur and leather attire in front of an appreciative audience.

Fox 2 Health Reporter Deena Centofani served as master of ceremonies. She told the audience that she stayed overnight at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit to be with a friend whose son was hospitalized after a severe injury. She was touched by the House’s staff and volunteers who provided compassion and hope during a parent’s worst-case scenario: the serious illness or injury of a child.

“Being here today means that you are contributing to the nearly 2,000 families from around the world who stay at the House each year,” Centofani said.

“This is the last fundraising event of the year for the House and it is going toward the $3 million expansion campaign,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.
Co-chairs are Treva Beckius, of Grosse Pointe, and Charlene Mitchell, of West Bloomfield, new board members to the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.

Beckius shared her personal connection to the Ronald McDonald House with the guests. She and her husband Reggie and two of their three sons stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in Wisconsin when her middle son Aaron, then 12 years old, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2006.
“We could have paid to stay at a hotel, but we wouldn’t have had the love and support that we got from the staff and volunteers at the House,” she said.

An inspirational video told the story of former resident Rachel Skousen, of West Bloomfield, who called the House a “comforting place with healing grace.” She said, “Our kids need that. It keeps families together.”
Arthur Bricker, owner of Bricker-Tunis furs, said, “Our business has always supported worthy charities and we are proud to support the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. Our new connection is very special to me personally. My family endured a lot of agonizing times when my daughter, now an adult, was born with a rare and debilitating condition. I appreciate the work that the Ronald McDonald House does to make families comfortable when they have a child who is hospitalized with an illness.”

Blossoms, of Birmingham, donated floral arrangements for the tea.

For guests at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, a $10 daily fee is charged for a guest room and use of common areas including a kitchen, laundry room, playroom and entertainment areas. No family is turned away due to a lack of funds.

Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea on Dec. 5 features fur and leather fashion show to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit

The Snazzy & Jazzy Holiday Tea on Dec. 5 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham serves as a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. Guests are invited to high tea, featuring a fashion show of the new Italian collection from Bricker-Tunis Furs, and jazz by Mike and Mike. Fox 2 Health Reporter Deena Centofani will serve as master of ceremonies. Cost is $60, and proceeds go toward the House’s expansion campaign. “Yearly this event has raised significant funds to help the children and families we serve,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.

“The beautiful Townsend Hotel provides a warm, inviting holiday spirit. The attendees not only get a delicious tea service but have the chance to bid on silent auction items and do a little holiday shopping – all while supporting the House and our expansion campaign.”

To RSVP, visit www.rmhc-detroit.org or call (313) 745-5909. Co-chairs are Treva Beckius, of Grosse Pointe, and Charlene Mitchell, of West Bloomfield.

Ronald McDonald House of Detroit holds successful grand opening gala

Detroit … Nearly 200 guests attended the Grand Opening Gala for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit on May 30 at Max M. Fisher Music Center to celebrate the new House at 4707 St. Antoine, Suite 200, in Detroit’s Midtown. The event raised $37,000 for the House.

The theme, “A night on the town in Midtown” played well as guests, attired in long gowns and tuxedos, enjoyed cocktails and appetizers in the reception area of the Music Center. The character Ronald McDonald joined in the festivities, posing for photos and joking with guests. Dinner in the Music Box room of the Music Center featured lavish food stations and classical music by Sasha.

During the reception portion of the event, guests were able to board a shuttle that took them to the House, located about 1-1/2 mile away, for a tour. Guests said they were impressed by the size, the attractive furnishings and the elegance of the House, which opened to residents on April 1, 2015.

During the program, Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the House, spoke about “The Heroes behind the House,” giving thanks for the work of Gary Granader, who oversaw construction. His father Harry built the first Ronald McDonald House of Detroit in 1979, next to Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Jackie Meara, regional director of Global Operations for Ronald McDonald House Charities, noted the importance of longtime support of McDonald’s owners and operators and La-Z-Boy, which furnishes all the new Houses in the U.S. and around the world.

Larry Gold, CEO of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, spoke about the partnership between the hospital and the House. He recalled that one parent said to him, “On the worst day of my life (when my child was in the hospital), the House was the best thing that happened to me.” Families who had stayed at the House spoke about their experience and told how much the kindness of the staff and comfortable House meant to them during a very trying time in their lives.

Donors who contributed $10,000 or more to the Hearts, Hands and Home Campaign were given engraved crystal hearts on stage, presented by Litomisky and Teresa Saputo, chair of the campaign.
“The gala was our way to thank donors for their gracious support and generous contributions over the years and especially during the renovation for the new House,” said Litomisky.

To date, the House has raised nearly $2 million for a $3 million campaign that runs through August 2016. Learn more at rmhc-detroit.org or by calling 313.745-5909.

Three board members of Ronald McDonald House of Detroit honored as AFP Distinguished Volunteers

Gary Granader, of Oakland Township, Teresa Saputo, of Oakland Township, and Deborah Virgiles, of Southfield, will be honored as Distinguished Volunteers by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Detroit Chapter on Nov. 12, 2014 at the National Philanthropy Day dinner at Cobo Center.
Distinguished Volunteers are the advocates, leaders and mentors whose passion for their respective causes inspires philanthropic action and community involvement in southeast Michigan. As owner-operators of many McDonald’s restaurants in southeastern Michigan, Granader, Saputo and Virgiles have a passion for helping the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit through volunteerism, fundraising and leadership.

Granader chairs the charity’s relocation committee, working with Executive Director Jennifer Litomisky, her staff and other board members to handle the myriad details involved with the move to the Hutzel Professional Building in Detroit in early 2015. The move will double the House’s size, enabling the non-profit to provide a home away from home for more families whose children are hospitalized at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
Gary’s father Harry was a founding member of the House in 1979 and Gary has served as a board member since the early 1980s.

“My father and I always wanted to help children and their families who were in need because of their children’s serious illnesses,” said Granader, who owns several McDonald’s restaurants in Downriver communities.

Virgiles is president of the board at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit and volunteers by making meals and organizing other volunteers. She is the owner-operator of two McDonald’s restaurants in Detroit.
“I serve on the board of the House because I have a passion for kids. One of my best friends had a son who was sick and was at Children’s Hospital. They stayed at the Ronald McDonald House and I went there to visit and saw all the wonderful things that they were doing for the parents.

“I joined the board and also go to the House often to volunteer – it is my way to give back to the community. I attend a majority of the charity events given for the House – I even held a radio-a-thon at one of my McDonald’s locations that raised $10,000 for the House.

Her daughter, Dominique, 27, is also a volunteer at the House and ready to take on a restaurant herself. Virgiles, who’s been with McDonald’s for 42 years, says, “Ketchup runs in my veins.” Maybe that’s why she also likes to cook for families at the House.
Saputo’s first involvement with the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit came in 1990 when she and her husband William, owners of 14 McDonald’s restaurants from Rochester to Royal Oak, sold shirts for the Woodward Dream Cruise outside their restaurant on the cruise route and donated proceeds to the House.
“We’re all about the Ronald McDonald House,” Saputo noted. “My kids have been involved since they were teens, washing windows and cleaning pantries.” Her son William and daughter Jessica, now in their 30s, also own McDonald’s restaurants.
“There are so many good charities out there. My husband and I focus mostly on the Ronald McDonald House because when you are with a good organization, why go anywhere else?” she said. Saputo often finds herself being a “volunteer on-call” for the House. She and Virgiles were co-chairs of the spring tea.
“Many who stay at the House didn’t expect to have a child or grandchild who needs long-term or intensive treatment but they sure are glad to have the services the House provides during their time of need,” Saputo said.