The Baltimore 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 like Jonathan 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."

20 was the magic number at parties

With frosty temperatures outside, it was all warm and fuzzy inside the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel, as a couple hundred folks milled around the mezzanine for the Baltimore Reads 20th Anniversary party. CEO Shirley Bigley LaMotte was thrilled that it was a sellout, especially considering the economy these days.

Among the easiest to spot in the crowd - Kelly Ripken, who looked glamorously gorgeous in black lace. Escorted by her father, Bob Geer, Kelly talked about how she and Cal have been involved with the literacy group from the get-go.

"Cal and I started this 20 years ago," she said, and then paused as her statement sunk in.

"Boy, 20 years ago. It went by in the blink of an eye."

You sure wouldn't know it by looking at her.

A stylish soiree Last week was 20th birthday party week, apparently. Style Magazine also celebrated its two decades with a bash at Silo Point. More than 200 guests to the invite-only shindig were greeted by editor Brian Lawrence, as well as a martini bar at the front door, and then directed to a lounge dotted with food stations and bars. A quick scan of the room revealed Ray Mitchener; Brian Comes; Greg Harris ; Sascha Wolhandler; Vince Peranio and Dolores Deluxe; Edie and Stan Brown; Patrick Sutton; Dean Alexander and Donna Shaef-fer; Jim Seay and Sara Ingram; Tom Brinkley; Lisa Schatz; Celeste Corsaro; Stephanie Bradshaw; Diane Macklin; and Eddie Applefeld. Too many to schmooze with, too little time. You could also take a gander at the models posing atop lighted glass boxes around the room. One, in particular, drew a lot of interest - Brittany "McKey" Sullivan, winner of America's Top Model cycle 11. She came down off her pedestal later on, to mingle and pose for photos with her fans.

Who would have thought a cold week in January could be so much fun?

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