Talk about your welcoming committee. As hundreds of guests at Zoomerang! 2007 arrived at the Maryland Zoo's main gate, they were not only greeted by party chairs Stuart and Suzanne Amos and zoo president Billie Grieb, but also by a few "animal ambassadors," including camels, a rooster, a baby alligator and a toucan.
"Oooh, I love penguins," trilled Zoo board member Carole Sibel, as she spotted one trotting after its keeper.
"There's a little owl called Pellet, who's the cutest little thing I've ever seen," cooed Celeste Corsaro, marketing director of Baltimore Eats.
"So far, this is the best five minutes I've ever spent at a gala," said Glen Hellman, Proxy Governance president, with a twinkle in his eye.
"We've met the animals, now we're looking for our own species," noted his date, Melody McEntee, a U.S. House of Representative's government and business director.
And this particular species was out in fine feather. Lots of people to see and be seen - including a particularly notable subspecies: Baltimore media types - such as Eddie Applefeld, Diane Lyn, Jamie Costello, "Downtown Diane" Macklin, Anne Boone-Simanski, Jennifer Franciotti, Jordan Wertlieb, Steve Rouse and Brian Lawrence.
There were also plenty of places to see and be seen. A chain of tents wove down zoo paths and around the Mansion House, lined with bars and food stations from some 50 local restaurants and caterers. Some housed one-night-only "nightclubs," each featuring a different motif and band.
University of Maryland School of Medicine's director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Brian Berman and wife Sue, chose the "Savoy Cafe," the tent rocking with the sounds of Mambo Combo.
Zoomerang first-timers Steve and Joan Harlan also made their way there, particularly anticipating the evening's premiere of "The Maryland Zoo Song," composed and performed by their friend Kenny Sparks.
Already, Steve Harlan was bowled over by the festivities.
"This is a helluva party," he declared.
A drink with Marla Oros
Repairing the world, one project at a time
Marla Oros, 43, who refers to herself as a community health nurse, began her career right out of the University of Maryland's School of Nursing in 1984, going to work for what was then the new West Baltimore Community Health Corp. Within the next 10 years, she developed and headed up community health programs across Maryland, and helped develop the Sandtown-Winchester Neighborhood Transformation Project. In 1995, she became assistant dean, then associate dean, for Clinical Affairs at the UM School of Nursing. Oros helped create the Open Gate Health Center in Pigtown, a fleet of "well mobiles" that serve underinsured people around the state, and 15 school-based health centers around Maryland. She left UM in 2004 to start a full-time consulting practice, The Mosaic Group, which helps organizations build and develop health services for underserved communities.
Oros lives in Roland Park, with her husband, David Oros, board chairman of NexCen Brands Inc., son Erik, 16, daughter Heather, 13, and two cats, Marble and Fuzzball. You deal with some pretty intense issues. Does that ever overwhelm you?
At times, I'm impacted by the profound situations I see people in, but that's why I'm doing the work. ... I work with juvenile offenders. I look in their eyes and I see they are children. And I realize the situations some of these kids have grown up with. I see parents struggle to raise their children, and you can resonate with the love that they have for their children. They want what we want: the best for our kids. Has your work changed your perspective on your own family life?
I think what it's done is [me] making sure that my children understand the issues; that their life isn't the only life in the world. I've talked with my kids forever about the circumstances these families live in. I've taken them down to Pigtown and Sandtown. [Their] school community service projects have been connected to my projects. Does this work create a need for some chill time?
Nah. It's a passion. I love what I do. I've grown up with this. My mother was a social worker for Baltimore City for 20 years. So what do you do in your down time?
I like to spend time with my family, with my kids. I like cooking and baking. I think I make a mean Jewish apple cake. I like to travel. Love the theater. Love art, music. Reading; good novels and magazines. I'm a magazine junkie. What are some other guilty pleasures?
Gelato, or ice cream. Red licorice. French fries. ... If I could eat anything in the world, it would be those three. Do you have a favorite movie?
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is definitely my favorite movie. I like it because it's a happy story and the poor family does well. They move into the chocolate factory! Are there words you live by?
I don't know if I always live by this, but I believe you're put on this Earth with a specific set of skills and talents and gifts. And you should use them to make the world a better place. As we Jews say, "tikkum olam," which means "repair the world."
TASTE OF THE NATION
Benefits Share Our Strength
Business casual attire
American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway
$75; $125 including 5:30 VIP reception