The Martin Luther King Center Swings Into Spring

Amanda Frye-Leinhos, Lola, Nadia, Mimi &

Henry Leinhos

Better than forsythia, the annual “Swing into Spring” fundraiser, to benefit the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center (MLKCC), was a smashing kickoff to the spring season in Newport. It was held March 25th in the Atlantic Beach Club’s upstairs room, featuring stunning views of first beach. The event was completely sold out - over 270 people purchased tickets to support the center, and were lured by the evening’s entertainment, the James Montgomery Blues Band, which was recruited by Board member Kimberly Skeen-Jones. The fun, colorful poster art by Steve Turrelli used to promote the event no doubt also attracted much attention.

The night commenced with a VIP Preview Party where sponsors and special guests could mingle with the band, event organizers, and the Center's staff. While it was still light out, the party officially started with cocktails and silent auction bidding. Items ranged from lovely jewelry, hats, and other accessories to cheeky Star Wars and Wizard of Oz-themed gift baskets, to what surely had to be the standout: the infamous “Wheelbarrow of Booze.” Gorgeous floral arrangements - provided by Water’s Edge Florist - were a visual highlight. Party attendees included Noreen Drexel, former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee, and Mayor of Providence David Cicilline.

Amanda Frye-Leinhos & Providence Mayor

David Cicilline

Event co-chairs Liz Drayton and Leslie Grosvenor O’Dwyer stepped onto the center of the dance floor to address the crowd and thank everyone for their support of the center, as well as to introduce Suzi Nance, president of the MLKCC’s board of directors. Suzi, in turn, introduced Amanda Frye Leinhos, the Executive Director for the center. Amanda called her entire staff up to the front of the room, and her enthusiasm was infectious as she described the incredible impact the organization has had on the lives of local children and families, pointing out each staff member’s individual role and contribution.

Next came a buffet-style seated dinner and live auction, announced by none other than Newport’s favorite funnyman, Emlen Drayton. Weekend getaways, catered dinners, local artwork, and a 75-person sail aboard the yacht Aurora brought in wonderful donations to the MLKCC, but the highlight of the live auction had to be when Drayton auctioned off an evening with the band. To encourage bidding, James Montgomery took the microphone and joked, “Did I mention that we will do… anything?”

The James Montgomery Band performing

Following the auction, the band proved that, if nothing else, that lucky winner can count on a rocking musical performance! Montgomery’s raw stage presence and soulful vocals were backed by an energetic ensemble of talented musicians. Guests couldn’t help but get on their feet and dance as the rock and blues kept coming, mixing in the band’s originals with rock classics. By the end of the night, the party had certainly lived up to its name.                                             

                                                                  -- Amanda Grosvenor


Donald Crist, Jennifer Booth, Noreen Drexel &

Leslie O'Dwyer



Joyce Williams & Joanna Sommerville

Alana Ducharme & Tom Freeman

Vinnie & Leslie Grosvenor O'Dwyer

Liz Drayton & Nancy Parker Wilson

Al & Shirley Cook

Tina Castano & James Montgomery

Heather Bailey (Auction Maven) & Patrick Martin

The infamous Wheelbarrow of Booze

Leslie O'Dwyer & James Montgomery

Lein Jackson, Kimberly Skeen-Jones & James


Exum Pike, Gail Holmes, James Montgomery

& Patrick Martin

Patricia Moss & Leslie Brooking

Liz Drayton speaking

Suzi Conklin Nance speaking

The event's gracious co-chairs

Amanda Frye-Leinhos & the MLKCC staff

Patricia Moss & Leslie Brooking

Marilyn Warren & Amanda Frye-Leinhos

Nancy Custin & Barbara Baum

Liz Drayton & Joshua Janson

Amanda Frye-Leinhos, Lincoln Chafee & Suzi Nance

Emcee Emlen Drayton working his magic

Aoife O'Dwyer, Newport Seen's Amanda Grosvenor

& Vivienne O'Dwyer

The crowded dance floor at ABC

To purchase any Hi-Res print of an NewportSeen image, contact Linda (a)
All images copyrighted












Past Headlines

Jessica Hagen Gallery Heralds Spring with James Coe Exhibit

Brenda Nienh ... more »

Two Private Soirées in Elegant, Historic Newport Homes

Allison Vare ... more »

Fifth Annual Daffodillion a Blooming Success: Spring Fling a Sellout

“So when you see clouds upon the hill, there soon will be crowds ... more »




NEWPORT SEEN:  "Best Online Media Creation"


"Best Online Writing" 

                         -- CT Press club & National League of Press Women