by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
This week, Greater Seattle Business Association CEO Louise Chernin said, There was magic in the air as our 820 guests were welcomed with champagne by 100 outstanding volunteers, including the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence selling Emerald Tickets, PFLAG, Quake Rugby, Delta Lambda Phi, UWs Rainbow Grads, scholars and members selling Celebrity Chef table raffles.
Within minutes guests were mingling with each other, saying hi to Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmembers Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Tacoma Councilmember Ryan Mello, and enjoying signature cocktails by Tutta Bella, small plates by our caterers: Amato Catering, Cameron Catering, Rays Boathouse, Manhattan, Taylor Shellfish, Barrio, Urbane, Two Tartes Catering and Fig Tree Catering and popping balloons for one of our restaurant gift certificates, she recalled.
Guests sipped wine poured by Bartholomew, Elsom, Fidélitas, Goose Ridge, Laurelhurst Cellars, Nota Bene, Port Gardner Bay Winery and Va Piano, she said, as they bid on auction items - which also included wines.
A dance number from the musical Sweet Charity, performed by actors from the 5th Avenues production of A Chorus Line, kicked off the official program. Then the program moved on to the Emerald Ticket and Celebrity Chefs Raffle, which made for some very happy guests, said Chernin.
Huge thanks to our talented and generous celebrity chefs: Tamara Murphy of TerraPlata, Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy and Rumi Ohnui of Cassis, she said. Thank you also to the Westin Hotel staff for the outstanding job of taking care of us while our Auctioneer Extraordinaire Laura Michalek and our Emcee Elisa Jaffe kept the evening lively and the bidding high.
Of course, the extraordinary bidding was inspired by our scholar, Nyka Tucker, who touched us to the core sharing her story and dreams and the power of your gifts to change worlds and make dreams come true, said Chernin.
TASTE Chair, Kent Thoelke, addressed the audience about the power of giving. After that, it was impossible not to raise that paddle high and often, Chernin said, acknowledging that some donors gave at many different levels. Staying with a wonderful tradition, Michael Melancon and Glenn Johnson started the evening with a $25,000 bid; and after some very exciting $10,000 and $5,000 bids, our TASTE Chairs Kent Thoelke and Kevin Gaspari donated $25,000 and three other amazing donors, Ernie, Sandy and Glenn added to that to make a $50,000 match at the $1,000 level resulting in a night at which the Fund-A-Scholar raised $279,000.
Its hard to believe there was more to come; more bidding, a wine frenzy with sommeliers April Pogue and Lee Spires and a breathtaking array of trips, food experiences, tickets to The Ellen DeGeneres Show which had some wild bidding and then two more performances by our talent from the 5th Avenue Theatre, she said.
Chernin said that if you werent able to attend the TASTE event, you can still be a Scholarship Fund Donor by making a gift online at www.thegsba.org.
So many people made this night so successful, but we must start out and acknowledge the amazing vision and hard work by our two Chairs, Kent Thoelke and Kevin Gaspari and their talented committee Monica Ackerman, Allan Aquila, Dena Levine, Drew Ness, Chris Nishiwaki, Mark Rosén, Lee and Van Spires and Jason Staats, said Chernin. Supporting this committee every step of the way, with his expertise around all things auction is our Events Manager, Scott Walden and a stellar GSBA staff: Rachael Brister, Amy Burdick, Rachel Chernin, Mandy Dormer, Matt Landers, Aaron Rindt, Alysa Rosen and Jessica Wootten.
GSBA could not ensure that all the funds raised during the night of the TASTE go directly to the Scholarship Fund, if it werent for the generous support of the evenings TASTE Sponsors, said officials. Huge thanks to our Presenting Partner: 1st Security Bank; Marquee Sponsors: AlaskaAirlines, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Outerwall, Precision Garage Door Service, Vulcan, JPMorgan Chase and SVEDKA; our Premier Sponsors: Sound Community Bank and Thorny Rose Wines; Supporting Sponsors: AA Party Rentals, Aria Style, Choice Linens, Girlie Press, Reliable Movers, Team Photogenic, and West Coast Draperies; Silent Auction Sponsors: Morgan Stanley, Kasala and Alaska Airlines.
GSBA also thanks, for their ongoing support, their 2014 ANNUAL Sponsors:
Jewels - Diamond Sponsor: Microsoft; Emerald Sponsor: 1st Security Bank; and our Ruby Jewel: PwC. Our Platinum Sponsor: Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance. Gold Sponsors: American Family Insurance, PacMed, Regence and Wells Fargo. Silver Sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Carter Subaru, Seattle Goodwill, Group Health, New York Life, Precision Garage Door Service, Starbucks, RBC Wealth Management, US Bank. Bronze Sponsors: Avanade, Carpet Liquidators, CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Overlake Reproductive Health, Mona Smith, Attorney at Law, Google, Irons Brothers Construction, Vulcan and White Pages. Travel & Tourism: Amtrak, Port of Seattle, Visit Seattle, Space Needle (happy birthday Karen), Renaissance Seattle, King County, Sheraton Seattle, Sound Transit. Guide Sponsor: BECU, Marketing Sponsor: Green Rubino, and Community Health Partner: Gay City Health Project.
Your chamber, GSBA, would not be the largest LGBT chamber in the U.S., with a nationally recognized Scholarship Fund, if it werent for you, our amazing members, generous donors and a progressive business community, said Chernin. You understand that Equality is Good Business. You are committed to diversity and equality in business. You know the power of education and the importance of supporting the next generation of leaders. You are our heroes. Thank you.
Next year will mark the 25th Anniversary of the GSBA Scholarship Fund. Mark your calendars now for the May 15 Scholarship Dinner, the night you get to meet the students and hear their stories and the 2015 TASTE of GSBA on November 21.
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