Best Foot Forward

Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer

Photo by Ryan Noltemeyer

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world!” Marilyn Monroe is often credited for quotes that she didn’t actually author just because the sentiment needed a recognizable face behind it. It doesn’t really matter who said it first – the volunteers, staff and determined women at Family Scholar House are proving it to be true through their annual fundraiser, Wine, Women & Shoes.

On Friday, March 3, Delta Dental will present the Fourth Annual Wine, Women & Shoes fashion show and fundraiser chaired, for the second year in a row, by dynamic community leaders Christian Drieisbach and Jennifer Powell. The duo sat down with The Voice-Tribune in preparation for the event to discuss wine and shoes, but more importantly, the cause for which they volunteer their time.

Oh, the Possibilities!

Chief Possibility Officer and President and CEO of Family Scholar House, Cathe Dykstra, explains the importance of the event and the organization: “There is a reason that we call making a good impression, ‘putting your best foot forward.’ For some of us, that seems more intentional if that best foot is in fabulous footwear. Our Wine, Women & Shoes event is a fun evening with wine tastings, shopping, fashion, friends and shoes. But it is mainly about supporting programs that give our Family Scholar House single parents new opportunities to put their best food forward by being prepared for the future of their dreams.”

2016 Wine, Women & Shoes Von Maur fashion show. (Photo By Tim Valentino)

2016 Wine, Women & Shoes Von Maur fashion show. (Photo By Tim Valentino)

For those parent scholars, putting their best foot forward means being prepared for college classes, getting to work on time, making the most of opportunities to learn new things, devoting time to their children and giving back to the community. Cathe continues, “It means attending financial aid education classes and developing a household budget in order to begin saving for homeownership. It means helping children with homework before playtime and demonstrating the work ethic that supports success. As Coco Channel said, ‘Keep your heels, head and standards high.’”

While those parent scholars work diligently with Family Scholar House to put their best foot forward, Wine, Women & Shoes provides an opportunity for supporters of the organization to do the same. Co-Chairs Christian Dreisbach of Jaust Consulting Partners, Inc., and Jennifer Powell, brand director for Southern Comfort at Brown-Forman, have made sure that supporting FSH has never been more fun. There is really no innuendo here – the name says it all. There is a lot to love about wine and shoes, which is why the event has grown over the past three years into one of the hottest fashion events in Louisville.

The well-heeled evening will begin at The Henry Clay with a marketplace filled with accessories and items from local partners and national vendors. Of the shopping extravaganza, Jennifer explains, “It is going to be incredible as always. I remember showing up last year and it was still gray skies outside and Von Maur had their spring wear out – shoes, purses, jewelry – you couldn’t help but get into that spring state of mind. It’s such a fun way to kick off the season. This winter has been so warm so we’re all bit by the spring bug already. Everyone is ready to get a pedicure and put on their spring shoes, and this is just the time to do it.”

Even if winter weather does make a dreaded return before March 3, the WWS planning committee has you covered. In addition to a traditional coat check, they will welcome guests with a boot check so you can easily shed your winter boots in favor of the high heels for which the event is based. And if your load is too heavy or…quelle horreur!…your glass is too empty, they have a solution for that dilemma as well in the form of the ever-popular “Shoe Guys,” who will be working the crowd and showing off the hottest footwear of the season, all on silver platters, of course.   

The Shoe Guys. (Photo by Tim Valentino)

The Shoe Guys. (Photo by Tim Valentino)

Jennifer illustrates, “Shoe guys are meant to be attentive and make sure you are having a fantastic time. They will top you off, hold your purse or help you to your seat. Keep in mind, however, their motives are not completely altruistic. They are working for tips to donate back to Family Scholar House and they get very competitive. We are excited this year to have Jim Lake, Grant Adams and Artie Masterson as well as many other accomplished community leaders. These guys raise funds that help our families throughout the year and how they contribute to the event is invaluable.”

The silent and live auctions always offer something beyond the typical gala items while you enjoy your complimentary tastings of world-class wines and bourbon. The blind pulls from the Wall of Wine and Bourbon are also a fun opportunity to contribute and walk away with an item guaranteed at a higher value than you spend. The live auction will include rare experiences and excursions usually centered around fashion with, of course, wine experiences to California and some special bourbon tours thrown in.

WLKY’s Vicki Dortch brings her customary eloquence and style to her role as mistress of ceremonies and usually has a famous friend or two check in remotely to toast the event and kick off the designer fashion show sponsored by Von Maur. “Oohs” and “ahhs” can be heard throughout the crowd with the occasional, “That’s so you!” exclaimed as the fashion-minded make notes for their impending Derby season wardrobe.

Truly, the fashion show is happening just as much off the runway as on. Christian notes, “The biggest standout of the night is the fashion. People really make an effort to put together their best look with their wildest shoes.” Their efforts are not lost. A roaming eye will be choosing a “Best in Shoe,” and this year, for the first time, a “Best Dressed” winner, a distinction indeed among this crowd.

Christian and Jennifer will display their own element of fashion throughout the evening as they are both being dressed by Kate Spade for the occasion. “I haven’t been ‘dressed by someone’ since my mom, so this is very exciting,” Jennifer laughs. “Kendall Merrick, our dear friend and member of the board at Family Scholar House, is with Oxmoor Center and arranged for that special perk. We are ecstatic at the opportunity.”

Photo By Tim Valentino

Photo By Tim Valentino

The friends enjoy every minute of executing such a lavish yet important event together. Besides both sharing an extreme commitment to Family Scholar House, they originally thought their strengths complemented each other as partners. Christian jokes, “I thought Jennifer would be great at organizing behind-the-scenes while I would excel at the loud mouth part.” Ultimately, Jennifer assures, “To have the opportunity to do something like this with your best friend is a true honor.”

The Heart and Sole

The real stars of the evening are the Family Scholar House honorees. This year, Jasmine Wilkins and Courtney Rasche will be recognized for their achievements. Jasmine graduated for UofL in December 2016 with her B.S.N. and now works full-time at Norton Hospital. Her daughter, Brooklyn, is preparing to start kindergarten next year. Courtney graduated from UofL in 2015 with her degree in communications. She has a daughter named Annabelle, who just started kindergarten this past year. Since graduation, Courtney landed the job of her dreams, and last month, she closed on her very own home. All are excited for the opportunities afforded to them through Family Scholar House and are committed to giving back to the program that believed in their families and saw their potential even before they saw it in themselves.

While wine and shoes may sound like just a fun Friday night out with your girlfriends, the families of Family Scholar House are at the heart of this event. The words of world-renowned shoe designer Christian Louboutin ring true in this case perhaps even more than he intended: “Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically and emotionally.”

Family Scholar House Chief Possibility Officer Cathe Dykstra. (Photo by Tim Valentino)

Family Scholar House Chief Possibility Officer Cathe Dykstra. (Photo by Tim Valentino)

The fact that this year’s event is already sold out is great news for Family Scholar House, but bad news for those still hoping to get in on the fun. The lesson is to commit to your ticket early for 2018 when, we hear, the event may expand even larger. However, there is still an opportunity to be a part of the legendary evening from the comfort of your own home. Raffle tickets are still available for the Key to the Closet Raffle, sponsored by ARGI Financial Group. Only 200 tickets will be sold for $100 each, and one lucky winner will walk away with a $15,000 shopping spree to Von Maur. You do not need to be present to win, and tickets can easily be purchased at winewomenandshoes.com/louisville.

Wine, Women & Shoes is sure to be another successful year thanks to the work of Jennifer Powell, Christian Dreisbach, Cathe Dykstra and the woman they all credit as the  “brains of the operation,” Kellie Johnston of Family Scholar House. It is a night filled with opportunity to “walk in the shoes” of those who need just a little encouragement to take a step toward their full potential.

Whitehall Valentine’s Dinner

With quaint candlelight, guests enjoyed a sumptuous Valentine’s Day dinner at Whitehall on February 14. Attendees, whether dining in romantic pairs or in a larger group of friends, enjoyed a perfect evening of fine dining and elegance. Inside the beautifully appointed Whitehall mansion, the Valentine’s Dinner featured a delicious four-course feast prepared by Chef Gregoire Guiot of Mirabelle Gourmet Catering.

Photos by Tim Valentino.

Berkshire Hathaway Awards Luncheon

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Parks & Weisberg Realtors hosted their annual company awards luncheon at Big Spring Country Club on Wednesday, February 15. The luncehon celebrated all of the hardworking agents who had a successful 2016.

Photos by Tim Valentino.

AFBI Launch

Imagine a city where those with autism and their families can confidently access a community’s infrastructure. It is the goal through the Autism Friendly Business Initiative to create an autism-friendly city right here in the heart of Kentuckiana. The launch of this initiative was held Thursday, February 16, at Vincenzo’s. The goal is to get all businesses on board to becoming more autism-aware by watching a 10-minute video and allowing 80 percent of their staff to watch it, thus joining the growing list of autism-friendly businesses. Interested businesses can contact FEAT of Louisville for more information.

Photos by Tim Valentino.

Visiting Artist Open House

Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty’s walls are now adorned with the work of Louisville artist Patrick Donley, and they held an open house in celebration for the public to enjoy. The gatherings are always filled with a sophisticated crowd, delectable hors d’oeuvres and delightful conversation with a plentiful array of cocktails flowing.

Photos by Bill Wine.

Celebration of Service and Survival

This 30th annual celebration benefiting The Center for Women and Families paid tribute to Women of Distinction who have spent their time and talents advocating for woman and girls in Kentuckiana. The elegant and festive evening boasted an opulent theme of “The Great Gatsby,” and attendees planned their wardrobe and headwear accordingly.

Photos by Tim Valentino. 

The CAPER

Attendees of the UofL vs. Virginia Tech men’s basketball game headed straight from the KFC Yum! Center to the Galt House Hotel for the 30th annual CAPER, benefiting Family & Children’s Place, on February 18. Guests enjoyed silent and live auctions, entertainment and a delicious variety of food and desserts from local restaurants. Revenue from the CAPER supports critical services for more than 6,000 child survivors of abuse and their families in six program areas.

Photos by Bill Wine.

Tailspin Ale Fest

On February 18, a World War II-era hangar at Bowman Field was filled to the brim with smiling faces and plenty of beer as Louisvillians enjoyed the fourth annual Tailspin Ale Fest – “Louisville’s Winter Warmer Beer Festival.” Attendees enjoyed live music and food trucks, and with over 200 critically acclaimed beers from all over on tap, there was no shortage of good times.

Photos by Tim Valentino.

Dancing with Prospect Stars

The Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Taste of Prospect extravagaza while 10 brave men and women of the Louisville community danced outside of their comfort zone at Bill Collins Ford to raise money for the charity of their choice.

Photos by Tim Valentino.

The Dreamer’s Ball

Dreams with Wings is a nonprofit agency that serves adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and The Dreamer’s Ball is the fundraiser that gives those dreams wings. On Saturday, February 18, guests danced the night away at The Gramercy to the sounds of KUDMANI following a gourmet dinner and an exciting and auction. Proceeds from the event help support Dreams with Wings camp and residential and day programs as they strive to empower their members to recognize their strengths, contribute to the community and pursue their dreams.

Photos by James Eaton.

Party with Purpose

The fitness-minded gathered at Louisville’s hottest new venue, the Manhattan on Broadway, for the Downtown YMCA’s first-ever Party with Purpose. All proceeds from ticket sales and event revenues went to supporting youth programs and scholarships at the Downtown Y. The evening was celebrated with food, drinks, live music and fun, featuring silent and live auction items. The Downtown Family YMCA is committed to providing a place for kids and adults that can bring families closer together while encouraging good health and fostering connections through fitness, sports, fun and shared interests.

Photos by Jose Aponte.

Shakespeare in Love Gala

“Of all the flowers, methinks the rose is best.” – “Othello.” It seems many agree with Emilia’s statement around Valentine’s Day. A great deal of amorous Kentucky Shakespeare supporters also agree that there is no better way to celebrate the holiday that is for lovers than at 21c Museum Hotel. This year’s crowd was dressed in black and white and well-read all over.

Photos by Tim Valentino.