Nearly 550 beautiful people were “Out & About” for the Penn Towne Links Inc. Autumn Gold Leaf Ball. The biennial fundraiser, which marked 37 years of service to the community, took place at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue in Center Ccity on Oct. 20. “La Belle Epoque” was the theme of the gala.
Chapter president Thelma Taylor Henderson explained,” Our theme refers to an era of rebirth and revitalization in France in the early 1900’s and decidedly apropos as we believe that our city is, likewise, experiencing a rebirth. It is thriving, the economy is on the rebound and we are experiencing neighborhood revitalization in many sections of the city, thus making it a better place to live and work. Hopefully, our efforts through our programs and our community service contribute in some way to this rebirth. All proceeds from our fundraiser benefit the public service and scholarship programs of the Penn Towne Links organization.”
Co-chairs who worked their magic on the hugely successful signature event were Carol Horne Penn, Henri Moore and Dr. Leslie Brown Wyche.
The evening began with an upbeat cocktail reception where guests mixed and mingled. Everyone had an opportunity to participate in the raffling of nine “Experience Baskets.” Each basket had a value of between $900 and $1,000. For example, the “Around the Town” experience basket contained a membership to The Barnes, a gift certificate for the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City, Tea for four at the Four Seasons, seats at Table 31, a certificate for dining at the Iron Hill Brewery, tickets for four to attend entertainment events at Temple University’s Liacouras Center and much more.
I had the pleasure of joining Link Dr. Wilfreta Baugh who created fabulous contemporary centerpieces. Dr. Beverley Coleman and Everod Coleman, Dr. Valentina Protisi, Wilford Gordine, Pamela Eady and Curttrynna Troisi.
Co-chairs welcomed guests and thanked them for their support as did Penn Towne chapter president, Thelma Taylor Henderson. Other current officers of the chapter are: vice president Gabrielle Baugh Smith; program director Sabrina Ford Williams; recording secretary Adrienne Horn; financial secretary Dr. Leslie Brown Wyche; corresponding secretary Sharon Parks; treasurer Alexcia Mikell Wells; member at-large, Theresa Powell; parliamentarian Tayna Deyo; Chaplin Caroline DeMarco and immediate past president Joanna O. Lewis.
The chapter was honored to have the Eastern Area director of The Links Inc., Dianne S. Hardison, in attendance and thrilled that she acknowledged the many successes of the Penn Towne Chapter and congratulated them as one that exemplifies the motto of the Eastern Area, “Leveraging the Legacy of Friendship and Service.”
While the Penn Towne Chapter has 63 members, it is a part of a much larger organization. The Links Inc. is headquartered in Washington, D.C. under the leadership of national president, Margot James Copeland. The organization was founded in Philadelphia in 1946 by Margaret Hawkins and Sarah Scott. It is an international, not-for-profit organization comprised of more than 12,000 women of color in 276 chapters located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. Link members contribute more than 500,000 documented hours of community service annually.
Just a sprinkling of those looking fabulous and having a great time “Out & About,”including members and their significant others, were: Judge Frederica Massiah Jackson, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Wes and Rene Allen, Judge Roslyn Robinson, Gloria and Rick Hawkins, Anthony Moore, Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper, Judge Gregory Sleet, Dr. Walter and Nicole Harris, Bobby and Adrianne Spears, Dr. Patrick Oates and Evelyn Sample Oates, Dr. Susan Taylor and Kemel Dawkins, Dr. Eddie Williams, Mariska K. Bogle, Dr. Vaughn Graves and Leslie Graves, Sheila Vance, Gus “Windy” Lacy, Joseph and Linda Meade, Dr. Donald Parks, Dr. Sam Wyche, Tim and Donna Roderick, Eric and Shelly Pulliman, Rodney and Angela Gillespie, Wes and Brenda Hamilton, Dr. Arby White, Mark Gaines and Tuesday Gordon-Gaines, Dr. Emily Pollard, Bert and Phillip Ashberry, Dr. Charles and Ruth Bridges, Michelle R. Howard-Vital and Geri R. Vital.
The invocation was offered by the Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson, Pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church. Music and laughter resounded as guests dined and danced to fabulous music by “The Michael Live Project.”
A wonderful highlight of the evening included remarks by two outstanding young ladies who were Penn Towne Link scholarship recipients.
Adrianna Matthews, a graduate of Martin Luther King High School (2008) and Penn State University (2012) recounted how valuable her four-year scholarship from Penn Towne had been in helping her meet her college expenses. She added, that the Links had also supported her intellectually by encouraging her to pursue her dreams, goals and desire to have a career in theatre. Today, she is a young working theatre artist, performer, and playwright. She is employed at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman Quad working as an operations coordinator for the University’s Performing Arts Department. She has also been hired as a drama teacher for Congreso to promote theatre for young minority students interested in learning the craft of acting. Joy Smith Kelly is a graduate of Bodine High School for International Affairs (1997) and Hampton University (2001). She, too, expressed her appreciation for her 4-year scholarship. After graduation from Hampton, she began a career in advertising and over the past 11 years has worked in advertising and marketing Communications for multiple fortune 500 companies. She is currently a marketing and communications consultant at Paradigm Group Consultants. Joy expressed happiness to see that Penn Towne’s legacy of empowering young women to pursue their dreams continues. She shared how she “pays forward” with her time and her financial contributions. As testament to her words, she presented Penn Towne with a substantive financial contribution to help support the organizations’ programs and service in the Philadelphia region.
Congratulations and very best wishes to the Penn Towne Chapter Links, Inc.
Have a fantastic and safe week “Out & About” as Mother Nature reminds us to be mindful of what truly is important in life!