What could be sweeter than announcing that the TASTE of GSBA, Sweet Charity, raised over $727,000 to support our LGBTQ and allied scholars. 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, UW’s Rainbow Grads, scholars and members selling Celebrity Chef table raffles. Within minutes guests were mingling with each other; saying hi to Mayor 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, Ray’s Boathouse, Manhattan, Taylor Shellfish, Barrio, Urbane, Two Tartes Catering and FigTree Catering and popping balloons for one of our restaurant gift certificates. No sooner did you start enjoying those luscious small bites when you realized you had not yet started sipping from wine being poured by Bartholomew, Elsom, Fidélitas, Goose Ridge, Laurelhurst Cellars, Nota Bene, Port Gardner Bay Winery and Va Piano. Oh, and somehow you still managed to bid on those wonderful auction items and the incredible wines in the wine section, including a full wine cellar with over 100 wines –just for you and your closest, ( soon to be happiest), friends.
As the hour struck 7:30, you were ushered to your seats by more wonderful volunteers, to enjoy a performance of a dance number from Sweet Charity performed by actors from the 5th Avenue’s Production of A Chorus Line. What a glorious way to settle down for some serious bidding. Of course, we first had to pick our Emerald Ticket and our Celebrity Chef’s Raffle which made for some very happy guests. Huge thanks to our talented and generous celebrity chefs: Tamara Murphy of TerraPlata, Jerry Traunfeld of Poppy and Rumi Ohnui of Cassis. 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. With barely time to catch our breath, our TASTE Chair, Kent Thoelke came on stage and completed the story about the power of giving. After that, it was impossible not to raise that paddle high and often (yes, some donors gave at many different levels). Staying with a wonderful tradition, Michael Melancon &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 & 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. It’s 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 Show which had some wild bidding and then two more performances by our talent from the 5th Avenue Theatre. Team Photogenic already has the photos online - you can view and order prints here.
Weren’t able to attend the TASTE? You can be a Scholarship Fund Donor by making a gift online.
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. 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 all funds raised the night of the TASTE go to the Scholarship Fund, if it weren’t for the generous support of the evening’s TASTE Sponsors. 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 ongoing support, our 2014 Annual Sponsors. Thank you to our Jewels: Diamond: Microsoft; Emerald: 1st Security Bank; and our Ruby Jewel: PwC. Our Platinum Sponsor: Liberty Mutual & 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 Partner: Green Rubino and our Community Health Partner – Gay City
Your chamber, GSBA, would not be the largest LGBT chamber in the US with a nationally recognized Scholarship Fund if it weren’t for you, our amazing members, generous donors and a progressive business community. 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.
With your commitment and your talented and visionary Board of Directors led by our Chair Martha Davis and the incredible leadership of the Scholarship Fund led by our Scholarship Chair, Mark Rosén, we can look forward to a successful 2015.
GSBA President & CEO
P.S. 2015 is 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 –the party you will never want to miss!