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May 20, 2007 - Gathering Place Brown Bag Benefit presents an Evening in the Tropics

What: Gathering Place's 17th annual Brown Bag event

Where: Hyatt Regency, DTC

When: Saturday May 19th, 2007

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Beneficiary: Gathering Place

Master of Ceremonies: Channel 7's Mike Nelson

Gala Chairperson(s): Dee Dee Parker

Honorary Chairperson(s): Heidi and Randy Keogh

Committee Members: Dee Dee Parker, Lisa Thorner, Sandy Autrey, Aimee Caplis, Nancy Hoist, Kareen Kimsey, Stephanie Linafelter, Lori Lawrence, Amy Venerable, Erin Wallace, Barbara Barr, Lauren Naylor, Miriam Piper, Ann Ellis, Cindy Overhardt, Lauren Sveen, Martha Kallestad, Holly Johnson, Debbie McGraw, Leslie Minna Budman, KC Higgins, Jack Overstreet, Debbie McCarty, Kristal McGrath, Kathleen Dammen, Mary DeBolt, Krista Overstreet

President(s): Holly Johnson

Co-President(s): Dee Dee Parker

Catering: Epicurean Catering

Entertainment: Polynesian Fiafia and Vui Siaosi band and dancers

Music: The Nacho Men

Sponsors: Delta Petroleum Corporation, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck P.C., Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Kathy and Brad Coors, Cordillera Energy Partners, Hexagon Investments, Sandy and Gary Autry, Jim and Janice Campbell, Community Bankers of Colorado, Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, Dan and Angela Japha, Mike Leprino Family Foundation, Lockton Companies LLC, Whiting Petroleum, Buckley Powder Company, CRESA Partners, Davis Graham and Stubbs LLP, Dr. Gregory Dietmeier Orthodontics, Jim and Judy Feldhake, Honnen Equipment, Scott and Amy Fisher, Peter and Lisa Pavlakis, Pam and Joe Ignat, Holly and Dan Johnson, Katie and Bart Johnson, Sandi and Jeff Johnson, Miriam and Bill Piper, Martha and Drew Kallestad, Daria and Thomas Kane, Heidi and Randy Keogh, Micro Motion Inc., Brenda Roush and Tom Nickerson, Turner Construction Company, Van Gilder Insurance Company, Lucy and Jim Wallace, Wells Fargo Bank

Auctioneer: Paul Behr

Menu: baby red oak and spinach salad; seared mahi-mahi and roasted beef tenderloin; chocolate striped star shaped torte

Attendance: 600+

Attire: evening tropical

Special Thanks: Jay Ashburn, Sandy and Gary Autrey, Barbara Barr, Bouquets, Epicurean Catering, Event Rents, Mayor John Hickenlooper, Hobby Lobby, Margie and Dave Hunter, Interior Fabrics, Lance Frey and Cartier, Frontier Airlines, Nancy Glover, Hyatt Regency DTC, Inbox Services, Christie and Walter Isenberg, Mary Junda, Lucy Kissinger, Dave and Gail Liniger, Little Eden, Jack Overstreet, Craig McNeil, Michael's Wholesale Cut Flora, Dr. John and Lynn Minna, Mondo Vino, Mike Nelson, Diane Ray Custom Sewing, Sage Hospitality, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Venitian Resort-Las Vegas

Board of Directors: Holly Johnson, Dee Dee Parker, Martha Kallestad, Liz Clarke, Beth Rubin, Leslie Minna Budman, Mary Towey, Jean Tutolo, Lauren Naylor, Mary Kirkpatrick, Jan Boynton, Kelly Hyer, Rae Lapporte, Patches Caskey, Sarah Leffen, Kristal McGrath, Kelly Keogh, Krista Keogh, Linda Hantman, Nancy Holst. Debbie McCarty, Katie Johnson, Lucy Kissinger, Sandy Autrey, Ann Frost Bailey, Betsy Gielssen, Pam Ignat, Heidi Keogh, Hillary Adams, Holly Johnson, Katie Johnson, Daria Kane, Sarah Leffen, Lauren Naylor

Blacktie Photos by: Christine Cool

 Gathering Place Association President Holly Johnson, Coordinator Lisa Thorner, Brown Bag Event Chair Dee Dee Parker and Decorations Chair Martha Kallestad
Gathering Place Association President Holly Johnson, Coordinator Lisa Thorner, Brown Bag Event Chair Dee Dee Parker and Decorations Chair Martha Kallestad

In 1990, the Gathering Place Association came up with a fundraising event idea: To serve guests their meals in a brown paper bag to provide a sense of what it is like to eat a meal with no place of one's own to prepare or enjoy it. Seventeen years later, the Brown Bag event has become a bit more sophisticated, but the beliefs and practices of The Gathering Place has held strong.

This year's Brown Bag benefit event attracted more than 600 people to the Hyatt Regency in the Denver Tech Center May 19 to show their support for an organization dedicated to providing a safe haven for homeless women and their children. As guests entered the beautiful Hyatt Hotel, they were met with smiling faces of Gathering Place employees who greeted them with a Hawaiian lei and a fruity tropical beverage to sip on as they mingled with other guests, and listen to the sound of Polynesian Fiafia and Vui Siaosi music.

At around 7:00 p.m., guests began taking their seats for a mouthwatering tropical dinner of seared mahi-mahi with fresh mango relish and roasted sliced beef tenderloin accompanied with herb risotto and asparagus. Before dinner was served, master of ceremonies Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist for Denver's  News7, took a moment to introduce President and CEO of the Gathering Place, Leslie Foster, who thanked all the supporters of the association for their hard work and generosity. Foster also wished to pay her deepest thanks to the evening's honorary chairmen, Heidi and Randy Keogh, who have been ardent supporters of the Gathering Place since 1997. In addition, Heidi Keogh has held many positions, including chair of the Brown Bag Benefit and president of the association in 2003. In her tenure as chair, Heidi led a recent campaign committee, which raised more than $5 million for a new Gathering Place facility.

During dinner, guests were treated to an authentic Polynesian show with hula dancers and accompanying music. At one point during the show guests were encouraged to get up and learn a traditional Hawaiian dance.

After a delectable dessert of chocolate striped star shaped torte with minted raspberry and caramel sauce, auctioneer Paul Behr began the live auction portion of the evening. Bids raised quickly as guests bid on great prizes such as a hot air balloon adventure for two or an 18K yellow gold and steel Cartier watch, as well as several vacation and dinner packages.

All in all, it was a great night for an important cause, and people were able to go home with tropical tunes still dancing in their heads. For more information about the Gathering Place, log on to

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