BUNNY IN THE CITY: Habitat for Humanity Home for the Holidays Gala

Christi Kempf, Nancy Karp, Moya Campbell

Kicking off a week full of galas, Habitat Savannah hosted their inaugural Home for the Holidays Gala at the Savannah Marriott on December 7. 

Sneaking into the Simply Savannah Marketing team green room to catch Marianne Ganem Poppell, Danom Dunagan and Dru Usry before they greet 250 Habitat supporters, I find the trio printing up bid cards for six live auction items. Just wait! I’m going to win that Hershey, Pennsylvania, getaway!

Out in the lobby, volunteers and Habitat employees are greeting sponsors from Carver State Bank, Choate Construction and WJCL while I snap pics of Savannah Chamber of Commerce’s lovely Conni Reynolds and the smartest computer coding dude I know, Sean Murphy.

Next up is the gorgeous Ariel Daniels and Miquan Green’s bestie, Javonte Middleton. The Devetter Law Firm paralegal is also the Sports Coordinator for Chatham County Parks and is the owner of Middleton Roadside Assistance. I remember meeting the Citadel grad when he was a young pup and it makes my heart happy to see him thriving!

With the lobby full of elegant gowns, three ladies stand out! Hello Moya Campbell, Nancy Karp and Christi Kempf! Knowing that I can get a mini-modeling session from the ladies, I pose the colorful characters then head over to snap a pic of Ray Gaster and Dakota Anderson followed by a fun pic of my Step One Auto family, Jonathan Oppenheimer and Chelsea Altman.

Approaching me is the indomitable Annette Ogletree-McDougal. The Habitat for Humanity Vice President tells me that she is in grad school, is an avid runner and is easily convinced to pose with her husband Reginald and fellow fierce female Corine Ackerson-Jones and her husband Bobby.

Next up, International Paper Mill Manager and incoming United Way Board President Jay Wilson waves me over for a pic with his son Grant, daughter-in-law Alison and wife Alicia. Giggling when Jay gets a little bit amped when he says his guest is none other than Envirovac’s Kevin Jackson, then I share that Kevin is a favorite of mine because the University of Georgia football royalty loves documenting an event with a photo.

With the lobby filling up with local legends like Libbie Summers, Mayor Edna Jackson and Alton Smith, I give away hugs, then get one from the nicest guy in television, Jason Usry. Knowing he is on vacation this week, I tease him because I know he will answer the work phone calls and emails even though he is supposed to be chilling. 

Hitting warp speed, I snap pics of Downtown Business Association Executive Director Brooke Goth with her hubby Paul, admire Jennifer Graham’s glowing skin and Cecilia Arango’s red, layered Christmas tree dress, then commend Courtney Ganem for being the first sponsor to sign up for this inaugural gala. 

Sneaking in before the program kickoff is City of Savannah Mayor Van Johnson; emcee for the night is WJCL’s marvelous Marvis Herring, and setting the standard for future auctions is Chatham Parkway Lexus and Toyota’s Winston Pittman donating $10,000 in the paddle raise. Cue a standing ovation for this unexpected gift.

The man of the hour is in full force! Habitat CEO Zerik Samples waves me over for a pic with his parents Linda and Koshie Samples, family members Jonathan and Jasmine Manning and close friends Courtney Prince and Chris Middleton. Dressed in a navy blue tuxedo, Zerik pauses to give me a quick sound bite.

”I’m proud of the diversity and status in this room. Every color, creed and culture representing universities, real estate, financial institutions, news stations, school students and builders has shown up to support us. I was worried that people would not show up for a Wednesday night event, but we sold out our first gala,” shares the elated nonprofit leader.

Surpassing their goal of $110,000 for future development projects, Habitat for Humanity’s quest to build communities and reignite hope is off to smashing success and I am personally thrilled to see so many people participate in the biggest rock, paper, scissors competition in my history of events. What an ice-breaker and energy-producing activity for a gala! Well done y’all!


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