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Originally published March 24, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Page modified March 24, 2014 at 8:21 PM

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Sibling House a comfort for scared foster kids

Nicole Brodeur drops by the Sibling House fundraiser at the W.A.C.; Habitat for Humanity celebrates a paid-off mortgage; and a couple of power ladies go into the handbag racket.


Seattle Times staff columnist

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“In 30 seconds, we’ll be releasing some wild dogs into the room,” emcee and comic Pat Cashman announced to the crowd at the Washington Athletic Club last Saturday night. “They have not been fed in three days.”

That’s one way to clear a room. But the folks gathered for the Sibling House fundraiser the other night didn’t budge. They were taking their sweet time looking over auction items and sipping cocktails before dinner.

No one could blame them. The business of caring for foster kids — and keeping siblings together in that care — can be difficult. Nice to have a night to relax.

But once everyone moved upstairs to the ballroom — and away from the lobby television, where the Oregon-Wisconsin game was in full swing — the money started to flow.

Sibling House is a network of 200 homes where siblings in foster care can stay together. The nonprofit also funds programs that every kid should be part of: Little League. Camping trips. Tutoring.

“Some of them know people in the foster-care system, or were foster children themselves,” founder Lynne Gaskill said of the people who filled the room.

She and her husband, Michael, had two birth children and adopted six more: two sets of siblings and two singles. When they were little and something upset them, Lynne said, the kids would go to their sibling first.

“It’s hard to argue with the thought of keeping siblings together at a very scary moment in their lives,” said Michael Gaskill. “This is America. Family is supposed to be number one.”

Helping Cashman was Steve Wilson, another alum of “Almost Live” and director of its, well, younger sibling, “The 206.”

And there was former KJR radio star Mike “The Gasman” Gastineau, who donated lunch, four Sounders tickets and signed copies of his book “Sounders FC: Authentic Masterpiece” to the auction. He just signed a distribution deal that will put the book in 450 stores as of today.

“I’m just a small part of the sports community,” Gastineau said of his donation. “But it’s an incredibly giving one. We’re always arguing about things like stadiums, but never about things like this.”

House party

It’s not every day that you see someone pay off a 20-year mortgage and joyfully tear up the deed of trust to her home.

But it was the perfect ending to the Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County annual luncheon last week: Candy Hammerdoing the deed (literally) on a ballroom stage at the Washington State Convention Center, while CEO Kirk Utzingerand emcee Dennis Boundsof KING 5 looked on and beamed.

“This is for my kids, my grandkids,” Hammer told the crowd. “Thank you all.”

Hammer became a Habitat homeowner 20 years ago — hers was the third house the nonprofit built in King County. Since then, Habitat has built, renovated or repaired more than 350 homes for families in need in 17 King County cities. Just last year, 5,000 volunteers donated 41,000 hours of home repairs and renovations.

One of the renovated homes belongs to April Hoffman, who has twin sons with cerebral palsy. Responding to an email to Habitat asking for help, volunteers descended on her house, making improvements that met the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“After I’m gone, my children will have a stable and comfortable home, and no darkness ahead,” Hoffman told the crowd, which included Betsy Weyer, a Windermere agent who is on the local Habitat’s board of directors, and Patrinell Wrightand members of her Total Experience Gospel Choir.

“Sometimes when things are falling apart,” Hoffman said, “they are actually falling into place.”

Bag ladies

So what you’re trying to tell me is that everything in this bowling bag I call a purse will fit into that little leather rectangle I sling across my body?

“Everything you need, and nothing that you don’t,” said Sasha Muir, who with her partner, DT Levy, founded Bevee, a line of luxury purses they launched the other night with a party at 10 Degrees, attended by — among others — Dana Frank, Fredda Goldfarband JJ McKay.

Bevee isn’t just busywork for a couple of bored Seattle housewives. Oh, no. Muir is the founder of butter LONDON and has a master’s in engineering from Cambridge. Levy is a diplomat’s daughter, attorney and MBA who was in the top-secret intelligence unit of the Israeli army.

So they know how to make things fit, and keep them hidden.

The bags cost about $200 (hey, I said they were “luxury”) and feature a detachable billfold, plenty of pockets, supple leather and a nice chain that stays on your shoulder.

“It’s kind of genius,” one woman told me.

“Every girl problem, solved!” said another.

Oh, honey. If only.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.



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About Nicole Brodeur's Names in Bold

On Tuesdays, I tell you about my travels through some of the week's social and philanthropic events — not just the ones for the swells, but those for work-a-day folks who care about making this region move and improve. 206-464-2334

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