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Channel your inner flapper, and brush up on the Charleston and the shimmy.
The UMMC Alliance will travel back in time with Medical Center supporters, both on campus and in the community, when it hosts A Roaring 20s Affluent Affair, a fundraiser to support patient needs and hospital beautification.
The event, from 7-11 p.m. Feb. 27 at the Lake House in Ridgeland, replaces Taste of the U, a 25-year Alliance institution that over the years raised more than $700,000. Leaders of the nonprofit Alliance decided to take their signature fundraising event in a new direction following last year's Taste, which had run its course but treated the UMMC family to an annual display of diverse cuisine cooked up by employees complemented by vibrant costumes and decorated booths.
A Roaring 20s Affluent Affair promises just as much revelry, but in a different format, said Vickie Skinner, president-elect of the Alliance and a project manager in the Office of Faculty Affairs.
“We tossed around a lot of ideas on what type of event to have, and we decided we wanted to do something drastically different from the Taste that would be recognized as something new and innovative,” Skinner said. “The Great Gatsby has been a trendy theme, and people enjoy the dress-up aspect of it, although that's strictly optional for the event.”
Although Taste of the U primarily involved Medical Center employees, students and their families, this year's event also welcomes the entire metro community.
“We believe our theme has an appeal across generations,” said Jon Albert, UMMC administrator of clinical ancillary services and chair of the event committee. “We're post-25 years for our previous event, so the Roaring '20s offers the flexibility of adding in the younger generation along with our traditional crowd.”
“Because it's a night event, it's a little more formal,” Skinner said. “It's an adult night out, rather than a family affair, and it's all about the community and not just UMMC.”
In moving forward, Albert said, the Alliance is building on its history. “Taste of the U was a huge success, but some of the individuals who started it and parlayed it, along with some Alliance board members, have retired,” he said.
The all-volunteer organization “is refocusing our energy on what is next for the Alliance,” said Alliance president Shana Cook, wife of University Hospitals and Health System CEO Kevin Cook. “We've jumped in with both feet, and we're headed in the right direction.”
“Our intention is to have an Affluent Affair every year, but the theme will change each year,” Skinner said.
As Alliance members crafted a new event, Albert said, they considered the best strategy and logistics for their main fundraiser. That included location and the amenities of the evening, he said. This year's site is conveniently located on the Reservoir, is spacious and allows patrons to mingle on a heated patio.
The event promises to be a roar-ing success, organizers say. Those who take part will enjoy a buffet dinner, signature period cocktails, raffles for prizes throughout the night, and a drawdown for a top prize of $10,000. “Several of our committee members will be leading some dances, and we'll have a silent auction,” Skinner said.
And the band lends itself to the event theme, Albert said. The New Orleans-based River City Hit Squad “covers a variety of genres, but the roaring '20s theme is a big part of what they do,” he said. They'll play on the outdoor deck, which will be fully tented for dancing and mingling.
Over the past 26 years, Alliance fundraisers have improved the lives of UMMC patients, students and employees. Alliance projects include the acquisition of art for patient areas, beautification of the chapel located in the Adult Hospital, and creation of a patient needs fund to provide clothing to patients and their families in need, toiletry bags for those unexpectedly staying overnight, a phone charging station in the Emergency Department, a “care” room for cancer patients, meal tickets for family members of patients, and a newspaper and coffee cart that rotates through waiting areas for patients and families.
The Alliance also has financially supported the Children's Justice Center, a health literacy project aimed at fighting obesity and, field trips for kids on ventilators at the Batson Children's Hospital. A newer project is support of the Culinary Medicine Student Interest group, or cooking club, which provides hands-on cooking demonstrations for School of Medicine students to inform and engage them in healthy food behaviors.
The Alliance's fundraising goal for A Roaring '20s Affluent Affair is $50,000 to $75,000, Albert said. “My goal is to involve more of the community and to allow people to be more familiar with what the Alliance does,” Cook said. “I hope we can exceed our financial goals so that we can do more and bigger projects on campus.”
Skinner is ordering her '20s outfit and preparing her moves.
“I don't know how to do the Charleston, but between now and then, I'm going to learn,” she said.
Tickets for A Roaring '20s Affluent Affair are $125 for a silver-level ticket, $200 for two gold-level tickets and $250 for two platinum VIP tickets. A pre-party VIP hour begins at 6 p.m. Sponsorships are available, and the price of a ticket is fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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