Our daily bread

Special to the Sun

Our Daily Bread Employment Center, known for its efforts in helping Baltimore's poor change their lives, went through a change itself last weekend. The main eating hall had been cleared of its usual long tables; instead it had high bar tables decorated with gigantic fake flowers and colored lights dancing off the walls. A Carmen Miranda look-alike welcomed guests to "Buenas Noches Buenos Aires," an Argentinian-themed fundraiser.

"Kevin chose [the theme] because he thought we'd all be tired of the winter time," said Carolyn O'Keefe, referring to her husband, with whom she was chairing the event. "We thought everybody needed a little pick-me-up."

Folks could get a lift from an Argentinian-themed cocktail or the spicy offerings at food stations run by local restaurants. Then there were the tango lessons in a tent behind the building, where folks likeJonathan Melnick, Melnick Auctioneers owner, and Monica Ryan, Science and Engineering Services purchasing agent, faithfully followed instructions from Arthur Murray Dance teachers.

Denise Wright, Cristin Lambros legal assistant; Mark Caplan, The Time Group president, and his wife, Linda, nervously fortified themselves at the bar, swearing they would join the class shortly.

"I have three left feet. But, I think my wife is going to try and get me out there," said Center volunteer Tony Pagnotti with a chuckle.

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities executive director Hal Smith surveyed the scene and said: "This is really a transformational place. People come here to change their lives and go in a completely different direction. But I've never seen it physically transformed the way that it is tonight."

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