Carmen R. Briggs, Ophelia Rodriguez, Rainer Fischer, Faye Allen

BUNNY IN THE CITY: Hospice Savannah’s SHINE Fundraiser at SOHO South


Hospice Savannah presented SHINE, a fundraiser for their pediatric hospice program, at their annual Summer Nights Board sponsored party at Soho South on Thurs., August 25.

Whew! That is one big sentence to explain that this is one sophisticated silent auction. Featuring some of Savannah’s finest artists and their paintings, photography and jewelry, hor’dourves and DJ Jose Ray, the goal tonight is to raise critically needed funds for the only pediatric hospice program in the region.

Arriving to find the dapper Jamey Espina waiting for me at the Soho South entrance, the Hospice Savannah VP gives me a warm welcome before posing with Toby Hollenberg. Are you following me around Toby? This is my third sighting of her in ten days! The recent co-chair of the Savannah VOICE Festival is minus one tonight. Her “main squeeze” Michael Bonder is taking the night off from tonight’s shindig!

Inside the 1945-built automotive service center, I find volunteers Faye Allen, Rainer Fischer and Carmen R. Briggs checking in guests with  Hospice’s Annual Giving Specialist Ophelia Rodriguez. While posing the friends, I glance over to the bar and see one of Savannah’s most loved culinary guys, Brian C. Torres.

With a huge smile and bigger hug, Brian shares, “You know I retired out of Fork & Dagger and am now the Operations Manager for catering–imagine the high-end type of catering. You know I started out with Jamie Durrence and Chris Mason 18 years ago at Sapphire Grill and I am happy to say that I have made a full culinary circle.” I don’t care where this Puerto Rican treasure is as long as he stays in Savannah, but knowing he is in the Daniel Reed family makes my heart happy!

After snapping a pic of Brian with some exceptionally attractive bartenders, I cruise over to snap pics of Sue Ann Hearn and Jone Bremer, meet fellow empath Julie Shirley then pause to chat with Silverpixel hotel, resort and architectural photographer John McKinnon. Chatting with the natural redhead about our love of the Pacific coastline, it doesn’t dawn on me who I am talking to until I see Laura Lane McKinnon snuggle up to him!

Always a fan of Hospice’s beautiful director of development and marketing for asking me to attend their diverse events, I thank Laura Lane for tonight’s invite, then hit warp speed because wicked cool artists like Shelley Smith have entered the building!

Sporting dark pink hair, a dress from Greece and jewelry from Sante Fe, the eccentric artist tells me of a new adventure she never expected to take. “I’m ready to ‘carpe diem’ real estate in Savannah for people like me. (Artistic, bold and fierce.) And I am contributing money from EVERY sale to Renegade Paws Rescue because I have to give back or the world will go to crap!”

Arriving with her is videographer extraordinaire Jeff Walker, I hug my “recently recovered from some serious sepsis” friend and try to chat but Hospice’s retired marketing maven Beth Logan isn’t having any of that. I turn the table on my favorite Irish lass and interview her about her upcoming trip to Scotland, writing her art column for Connect Savannah and about the art she is making.

Looking fierce in all black, Beth grabs my hand and insists on a photo with Shelley and her “favorite Hospice volunteer” Jimmy Hendrick. After 30 years at St. Joseph/Candler as an ER nurse, Jimmy tells me, “I started volunteering with Hospice four years ago, love yoga, biking and swimming along with collecting old baseball cards.”

Walking by is a six foot tall blonde queen! Meet Stephanie Andrews, the proud owner of Halo Modeling Agency who just happens to be celebrating her 20th anniversary next month. With her tonight is her equally attractive uncle, Roger Duke. Reluctant to chat about himself, Roger does agree to pose for a perfect pic with Stephanie before I get called over for a photo request.

After Rose Marie Woulfe poses with Louis Schiavone, Rose Marie tells me, “I have two pieces–one is “AS ABOVE, SO BELOW’ , a 9 x 12 oil on wood painting that is a reference to the thin veil between the spiritual realm and our earthly existence.” Admiring her floral apron dress, I tell the fashionista how much I admire her style, her always classy designs, and her venture into the art world!

Next up is Sulfur Studios co-creator Alexis  Javier “AJ” Perez. Sporting a chill vibe, the artist tells me that he has a piece here tonight and invites me to check out Soy x Soy, a new artist collective featuring Latin/Hispanic indigenous artists. What a cool dude!

With a final lap over to ask Chef Ryan Connors what on earth is his Mediterranean Meatballs; it’s beef, oregano, cilantro, shallots, garlic and parsley, I commend the chef and cruise over to thank Jamey and Laura Lane for an invite to one of the best parties of the summer.

I hope lots of money was raised tonight that will allow Hospice to buy specialized pediatric equipment for the Hospice In Patient Unit (HIPU) and continued and special training for the clinical staff. With plans for multiple events in October, check out the ways you can support the people that help our loved ones during their most difficult days. We love you Hospice Savannah!

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