A Martha Harris lovefest and a big fish story
Nicole Brodeur's weekly wrap-up of fundraisers and social events includes an "All About Martha!" benefit for Swedish Medical Center; Tom Douglas' salmon-infused fundraisers for Victor Steinbrueck Park; and Immanuel Lutheran Church's centennial.
Seattle Times staff columnist
The lobby flowers were gorgeous. Of course. Little handbags crafted from moss and filled with gerbera daisies.
The guest list was Seattle's swellest. Of course. Nancy Abramson, Kim Strumwasser, Janet True, Sharon Friel and her Kappa Alpha Theta sorority sister, Susan Albrecht.
Most impressive, though, about the "All About Martha!" luncheon, was that Martha E. Harris herself was there. The floral maven and cancer fighter was alive and well and proud to kick off a Swedish Medical Center fund in her name.
It was, in a word, a lovefest. One after another, people stood at the podium at Seattle's Sunset Club and talked about the days Harris did flowers in a garage; her world travels; her style; her hatred of baby's breath, carnations and "Xmas"; her love of Black Label and her huge heart.
Even those who saw her in the depth of her cancer marveled at her spunk.
"When I'm around her, I don't feel like I'm taking care of her as a patient," said Swedish oncology nurse Heidi Hohmann. "She doesn't wear her illness."
Nor do her friends.
Jean Viereck was there to do the "ask" for money — after having had a double mastectomy just 20 days before.
"I would do anything for Martha," she said. No kidding.
Harris looked like the sun itself, in a white linen dress and yellow cardigan, her head clean of hair, her smile huge.
"I have eyelashes," she said, fanning the fakes. "I feel very dramatic."
And this gathering? How did she feel about that?
"I can't think about it," she told me. "I'm going to cry."
That said everything.
Fish story, happy ending
It wasn't long ago when the heat from Tom Douglas' "Salmon Chanted Evening" at Victor Steinbrueck Park came less from the coals than a certain crowd.
Homeless advocates protested the event in 2010 for taking over the park — across the street from Douglas' signature salmon-joint Etta's — and for funding a Seattle parks concierge to keep an eye on things. It was gentrification, advocates argued.
On Saturday night, there was no such tension. Just 400 people eating $15 plates of salmon, green beans, watermelon and potato salad, and soaking up the sun.
And there was Douglas, working the food line in a wide-brimmed straw hat.
At the end of this, his third summer of monthly dinners, Douglas will have donated $50,000 to help the city keep calm here.
"This should be an oasis for everyone," he said. "This is our park, a Seattle park."
As for those who think the haves are pushing out the have-nots? Well, they're actually feeding them.
Max Schoenfeld and his parents bought three dinners, then another that they gave to a homeless man sitting nearby.
"He looked like he could used a little sustenance," said Max, 16, with a shrug.
Want to do the same? The final dinner of 2012 will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 15, and reservations are recommended (www.tomdouglas.com).
Another day, grill
Burns on his hands, stuck behind the heat of a fiery grill, and Wayne Gose never complained. It was the least he could do for the Immanuel Lutheran Church, which celebrated its centennial Sunday with a community picnic in Seattle's Cascade neighborhood.
"They gave me a place to live and when I was on the street, they gave me food and clothing," said Gose, who was an addict for 40 of his 62 years. The church helped him beat that, too.
"If this church asked me to run my underwear up the flagpole, I would do it."
No need to go that far, said Pastor Susan Burchfield, who said Gose was one of "hundreds" of men who have been helped by the church — which housed one of Seattle's first shelters, starting in 1979.
"We're the ones who have been changed," Burchfield said. "We're different people because of them."
Next on the church's calendar? A "Backpack Blessing" at the 10:30 a.m. service Sept. 9, when the congregation will pray for students, parents, teachers and all school staff. (Especially the lunch ladies.)
Names in Bold appears Tuesdays. Reach Nicole at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com.
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.
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