"Swing Into Spring" a Cheerful, Uplifting Evening for the Martin Luther King Community Center

Co-chairs Rosalind Vaz-Maclean & Wendy Kagan

"Swing Into Spring", with its iconic, colorful saxophone invitation,  has become the unofficial kickoff into Newport's spring season, and the 2013 event attracted upwards of 300 guests, who gathered to support the Martin Luther King Community Center (MLKCC)'s uplifting community programs and services.


As we entered the upstairs lobby at the Atlantic Beach Club, where the party is held annually, we noticed a big table of brightly colored plastic beach pails and shovels, available for purchase at $15 to be "fun in the sun" toy gifts for local children. Cocktails and silent auction bidding started off the night in the large main room, which boasts stunning ocean vistas of Easton's Beach.


David Howe & Leslie Grosvenor

"Swing Into Spring" was co-chaired by Rosalind Vaz-MacLean and Wendy Kagan. Seen at the event were: RI Congressman David Cicilline, Bill and Alison Vareika, Gladys Szapary, Lillian and Matt Dick, Bill and Elizabeth Leatherman, Teddy Aspergren and Rob Bailey, Leslie Grosvenor, and Gail Alofsin, among others. Peter and Eaddo Kiernan were thanked for generously donating a new van to the non-profit, but were unable to attend that evening.


A generous, varied, mouth watering buffet dinner was served up by ABC staff at 6:30, and guests were invited to eat and seat themselves at round tables on either side of the dance floor. As they dined, Wendy Kagan and Rosalind Vaz-MacLean addressed the crowd, thanking them for their support. MLKCC Board President Tom Callahan then spoke, followed by Exectuive Director Marilyn Warren. We learned that the center serves more than 2,500 local needy families, providing at least 143,000 meals in 2012 alone.



Lauren & Tyler Zagryn

Then the poignant part of the evening began, when local residents Heather Baker and Christina Boyd both spoke to share the ways in which the Martin Luther King Center has changed their lives and made an impact on so many families. The true purpose of the night was brought into focus, and we noticed napkins rising to dry the eyes of several of those listening. Said Christina, "The Martin Luther King Center staff creates an environment where you are understood as soon as you walk in the door, without saying a word."


Newport's favorite Funny man Emlen Drayton then led the "fund a need" portion of the evening followed by the live auction, along with wife Liz Drayton. Dave Schuller proposed a $15,000 matching challenge to fellow attendees, which was surpassed. Live auction highlights included a private lobster dinner catered at Hazard's Beach, Red Sox vs Astros tickets for right behind home plate, and a sail aboard the Aurora. In the end, the event successfully raised $106,000, and guests spent the rest of the evening dancing away to the sizzling beats of Wayz & Means.


                                                                         -- Amanda M. Grosvenor


Katie Ellis with balloons for sale


Michael Semenza, Sister Jane Gerety, Rod O'Hanley, Richard Crisson


Chris Clouser, Gail Alofsin, Mark Stenning


Capt. Donald Pizinger, Rob Sharps


Silent auction tables


Alison Varieka, Lillian & Matt Dick


Justin McLaughlin, Bill Vareika


Guests seating themselves for dinner


Liz & Emlen Drayton


Brenna Bennett & Matt Hadfield


Kim & Ben Hancock, Lorrie Burns, Tony Leach, Jane Corcoran


Gladys Szapary, Alyson Novick


Xoli Burrell, Sarah Rivard, Mattie Kemp, Mandy Howe


Bill & Alison Vareika, Congressman David Cicilline

Festive plants and flowers


An enticing auction item!

Rosalind Vaz-Maclean speaks

Tom Callahan

Marilyn Warren


Children's bikes for auction


Christina Boyd speaks

Emlen Drayton leads the live auction


Centerpieces featuring quotes from MLKCC beneficiaries

Bill & Elizabeth Leatherman, Rob Bailey, Teddy Aspergren


"Fun in the Sun" pails


Glenn & Christie Gardiner

Wayz & Means

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