AT MANY FUNDRAISING PARTIES, YOU could say it's almost de rigueur to arrive at least 15 minutes after the doors open. The LifeBridge Health Magic of Life Gala was not one of them. At 6 p.m. -- the official start time of the gala -- at least 200 guests were already milling around the mezzanine. And that was only the beginning.
"Another 1,300 to go," gala chair Lynn Abeshouse said, watching folks filing in. "But we're totally prepared." As the steady stream of people in formal dress continued into the theater, a well-trained army of food servers met them.
"This is probably the biggest gala we've ever had ... and I think we're going to break all records in the city of Baltimore for nonprofit organizations that have raised as much money as LifeBridge Health has raised this evening," Sinai Hospital president / LifeBridge Health vice president Neil Meltzer said as he and wife Ellen greeted guests. That record-breaking amount? More than $2.5 million.
"Oh, my God, I'm loving it," LifeBridge board chair Ronnie Footlick said.
"Congratulations to Lynn Abeshouse for an enormously successful event," said Michelle Lax, who had co-chaired the gala a few years ago with her husband, Barry Garber, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown managing director. Garber had his own observation to make.
"I will tell you, as much fun as it is to chair the event, it's great to come here as a guest," he said.
LifeBridge Health president / CEO Warren Green acknowledged all the hard work that had gone into the evening. "I'm like the father of the groom. I get to watch," he said, laughing.
A DRINK WITH ALEXANDER BLASS
ALEXANDER BLASS, 33, HAS JUST celebrated the one-year anniversary of his Fells Point-based Internet business, realitycharity.com. He describes the company as the world's first direct-giving Web site in the philanthropy community. Before starting up that company, the Pikesville native worked as an equity analyst for Legg Mason, got a master of business administration at Oxford, then worked as a venture capitalist and management IT consultant. Blass is single and lives in Mount Washington.
When people hear about you and your business, what's the question you hear most?
"Why didn't I think of that?" And I say, 'Well, somebody had to.' ... There's nothing more fulfilling than seeing your idea go from sketches on a piece of paper to living, breathing things. Especially when it positively impacts other people.
Was that something you felt was missing in what you were doing before?
I didn't want to wait until I was 65 and had saved up some cash to decide it was time to make a difference.
Are you ever silly?
All the time. I'm a very silly person. I'm the king of useless knowledge. For example. Area codes. You can tell me an area code and I can tell you the city. For example, I can tell you 614 is Columbus, Ohio. Not to be confused with 416, which is Toronto. Or 214 is Dallas, and 412 is Pittsburgh.
ONLINE Read more of the conversation with Alexander Blass at baltimoresun.com / drink
ONLINE Sloane Brown takes you to the party with a calendar of coming events and video reports at baltimoresun.com / scene