What: The 40th anniversary celebration of So Others Might Eat, the venerable social-services network that provides everything from housing to addiction treatment for Washington’s poorest residents.
Where: The National Building Museum in DC’s Penn Quarter.
When: Friday, December 3.
Ticket price: $300, tables start at $5,000
Who: Washingtonians from every industry and political affiliation turned out to support So Others Might Eat, which began in the basement of St. Aloysius Church in 1970, now serves more than a thousand meals across the District every day, and has provided housing to more than 3,200 impoverished area residents since 1991. Über-donor and Carlyle Group founder William Conway Jr. tag-teamed with Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer to keep the evening running smoothly. US Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue and his wife, Liz, cochaired the gala—and the chamber’s frequent opponent, the AFL-CIO, kicked in as a sponsor through its Housing Investment Trust.
Heavy hitters in the audience included consultants such as D2 Strategies’ Debbie Dingell and Potomac Research Group’s Suzanne Clark; Fox News Corporation lobbyists Evony Blake and Pamela Fisher; Washington Fine Properties’ Margot Wilson and Akridge’s Thomas Wilbur from the real-estate and development world; Real Housewife Mary Amons; and Leading Authorities’ Rainey Foster, who it turns out can belt it out at events as well as organize them.
The scene: The silent auction got competitive as bidders dueled over signed copies of President Obama’s Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Embassy dinners were a hot item, too, with an unnamed bidder putting down at least $10,000 to lock up dinner for ten hosted by Irish ambassador Michael Collins at his official residence. (Even for an organization with a strong Irish following, that’s a lot for stew and stout.)
The evening had its solemn moments. SOME recently lost two significant grants for senior-citizen programming, explained WJLA’s Gordon Peterson, a member of the group’s Corporate Advisory Board. The evening’s live auction was dedicated to making up for some of those losses as attendees pledged to send 160 seniors to a West Virginia retreat next summer and to support SOME’s senior day center and caregiver program.
But things lightened by the end of the night when Schieffer shucked his coat and donned a ten-gallon hat to rock the crowd with his band, Honky Tonk Confidential. Who knew “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” would adapt so well to title-obsessed Washington? Washington’s gala scene could definitely use more raucous country hoedowns.
On the menu: Mille-feuille of Roquefort, quince paste and walnuts, with Syrah sauce and fried shallots, and frozen bittersweet-chocolate soufflé by Occasions Caterers.