Thank-you event turns tables, becomes an affair of giving

Published10/31/2008 12:03 AM

One person's imagination and determination plus cooperation from many sources led to quite a successful turnaround event that donated money rather than spending it and implemented Jewish concept of Chai.

Gloria Katz, energetic membership chairwoman of Beth Tikvah Sisterhood, took one look at her budgeted amount to host a recent thank you event and decided on the spot to put a creative turn on the usual catered food and paid entertainment. In a rush of enthusiasm, it occurred to Katz that "if there were a way to do something lovely" in the economic crunch and yet benefit a worthy organization, she would proceed to accomplish that with her co-chairwoman and daughter, Amy Bartgen.


"Purshoe (purse-shoe) Sisterhood Savings," the name of the recent event to thank those who paid membership dues on time, was a feat of cooperation. Furthermore, Katz followed the Jewish principle of Chai, the Hebrew word for life, one that has a numerical equivalent of 18.

"My first thought was entertainment. In these crunchy economic times why not think about less costly or free ideas and give back the savings," Katz reasoned.

Last year Katz hired a professional entertainer, which used a chunk of the budget, so she put on her thinking cap and found a solution to her dilemma. Why not ask WINGS, Women in Need Growing Stronger, to stage a fashion show using clothes and accessories from their three thrift stores? WINGS spokeswomen liked the idea and cooperated fully.

The show, organized by WINGS reps Robin Miller and Ann Marie Nordby, was a major success, treating guests to the fundamentals of mixing and matching outfits by accessorizing with jewelry, totes, scarves, shoes and vests. Nordby, whose theater career held her in stead, was bubbly as she commented on the models and their fashion choices and gave hints of fall's trends and colors.

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Following the Chai custom, Katz gave WINGS $504, an amount she would have spent for entertainment.

Then Katz called upon her book club from Poplar Creek Club Homes and neighbors promptly decided on a comfort foods menu of favorite casseroles, salads and home baked desserts. Another $504 of savings was handed to WINGS. Its total of $1,008 is 56 times Chai.

No dinner for her sisters would be complete if guests did not dine at beautifully set tables, so Katz commissioned Deb Bakal who donated fall-hued linen tablecloths to the temple, saving $54 otherwise spent on plastic cloths. That amount was donated to the social action committee to purchase necessities for the temple's sister community in Krasnador, Russia.

Women adore little gifts at their place settings so Katz's friend, Cindy Hagen, supplied multi-styled ceramic shoes into which napkins rested. A donation of six times Chai, or $108, is slated for the Mark Hagen Memorial Foundation's Safety Village.

In accordance with the theme, guests filled a table with gently used purses and jewelry and at night's end picked a different one to take home.

"This was a feel-good evening, a night to gather, be thankful, have fun and yet give," Katz emphasized.

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