Everywhere you looked, guests at the Chesterwye Dinner /Auction were sporting a lime green, “I Bought a Piece Of Cake” sticker. This 35 year old tradition signifies that they had paid $100 for a slice of the famous Black Walnut Cake, created by Ms. Aline Koski, that annually raises thousands of dollars for the Chesterwye Center and the Chesterwye Adult Day Medical Care Program.
This Granddaddy of all the dinner fundraisers is held annually on the first Thursday of October, and once again this year the location was the beautiful Chesapeake Bay Beach Club. The event provides a large portion of the funds to enable the Chesterwye Center and The Chesterwye Adult Day Medical Care Program to enhance the lives of adults with Intellectual and Physical Disabilities.
But a new tradition has also become part of the evening. A luscious Country Cured ham has become more than worth its weight in gold. Donated by the Rhodes Brothers (Tommy and Bill), the bidding battles for this epicurean delight the past three years have become fast and furious, and are now a highly anticipated highlight of the auction. Howard Meredith started the ball rolling, and many jumped into the bidding war… and many fell to the wayside…as Jordon Songer and Doug Pierson dug their heels in, and refused to be outbid as they got into a one on one battle. Finally auctioneer Robert Campbell II called out “Sold, for $2,500 to Doug Pierson”, and a huge cheer enveloped the room.
It is this type of enthusiasm, compassion and generosity that makes the Chesterwye Dinner/auction one of the social highlights of the year on the Eastern Shore. The evening begins with a relaxing social hour, proceeds to a gourmet sit down dinner, and concludes with the silent and live auctions.
All the proceeds from the donors, sponsors and participants stay in Queen Anne’s County.
Chesterwye assistant director Janet Akers, has been part of the dinner auction for more than 25 years, and felt that this year’s guests were as kind and generous as any year that she can remember. She marveled at the enthusiasm of the bidders, and their obvious glee when they won an item. She also expressed her gratitude to the many donors who provided the gifts, and the group of volunteers who assisted her in producing the affair.
“You could see the spark was back”, said Chesterwye Foundation Board Chairman Wheeler Baker. “Looks like people are recovering from the down economy, you could feel the enthusiasm in the room. Our friends were back into their generous, giving mode, wanting to do all they could for the Chesterwye clients”.
Queen Anne’s County Commission President Steve Arentz said that the Chesterwye performs such wonderful services for the community, that he is glad that he and his wife Biana and many of their friends are able to attend this classy affair every year, and participate in the auctions.
Executive Director Dan Bungori told the crowd, “The support of everyone in this room allows us to continually improve our programs and services, and to directly support our clients by providing them the opportunity to ‘explore their possibilities”.
He especially wanted to acknowledge the sympathy of the Chesterwye Family on the passing of John “Ches” and Barbara Kellam. The Kellams were dear friends and advocates of the Chesterwye for many years. They generously donated their waterfront condo in Ocean City and a substantial stock portfolio that Mr. Bungori called one of the most generous and useful donations that he has seen in his 8 years as the Executive Director.
Mr. Bungori confirmed that it was a very positive event. He said that the evening raised over $102,000, spearheaded by the largest Live Auction support in more than 6 years. He thanked the staff and volunteers who made it run so efficiently, the sponsors and donors who contributed to the financial success, and mostly the friends and families who give so generously to this cause.
In photo: Dr. Abe Razzak, Commission President Steve Arentz, Senator Steve Hershey, Mrs. Wendy Hershey