Every year in February, volunteers with the Buford Lanier Woman’s Club (BLWC) begin planning their most glamorous annual fundraiser — The Spring Fashion Show.
According to BLWC President Sue Morris, the Fashion Show has become the Club’s biggest and most successful annual fundraisers. Its proceeds help fund many local charities as well as five $1,000 scholarships awarded to students at Buford High School, Flowery Branch High School and two nontraditional students from Gwinnett Technical College.
More than 300 patrons RSV’ped for the 2019 show themed “The 1950’s: A Time of Fashion Evolution” at the Sugar Hill Presbyterian Church. Beginning at noon, lunch was catered by Tropical Delights and assisted by Lanier College students and Career Academy. Many guests arrived earlier at 11:00 a.m. to buy raffle tickets for prizes donated by friends and partners of the Woman’s Club.
Tara Jewelry provided two pieces – a 14K Yellow Gold and Diamond Fashion Ring and matching earrings. The jewelry was donated in memory of Willena Robinson (1926-2019), a longtime member of the BLWC. Her daughter, Linda Evans, also a BLWC member, had been her caretaker and spoke to her mother’s zest for life and helping the community.
“She was very active [in the Club] up until the last year . . . she was very caring, [and] she loved her family and grandkids and her great-grandkids,” Evans said.
Evans participated as a model in the fashion show along with 12 others. After the luncheon concluded, the models paraded along a stage, displaying fashions provided by Dillard’s at the Mall of Georgia.
The show was bore all the retro glamor of the 1950s. It was chaired by club members Dianne Templeton and Carole Colley, and the theme was devised by Judy Franklin. Along with her team of helpers from the BLWC Art Department and Stonehedge Garden Club, Franklin spared no effort in the 2019 event. The venue was decked out in streamers, vintage records and posters and cutouts of some of the decade’s most iconic celebrities.
Franklin and her team had dedicated a corner of the room as the “Photo Booth” where guests posed with life-size cutouts of Elvis and James Dean.
Explaining her choice in theme, Franklin said, “Well I’m from the 50s! And my team [of event planners] were a big help. They’re all hard workers.”
The fashion procession included two styles of attire — summer casual and dress. Most of the models were members selected from the community.
Rev. Davis Bailey who is the pastor at Sugar Hill Presbyterian was among the party modeling Dillard’s fashions. While the church has a history of hosting the fashion show, it was Rev. Bailey’s first year to be involved.
“This is a great event. They’ve made the space look amazing, and it’s wonderful to have all the fundraising that comes out of this to benefit so many in our community,” Rev. Bailey said.
Directed by Kimberly Staples, Buford Highschool’s Thespians and Theatre volunteered as servers for the luncheon and held character as 1950s waiters as they escorted guests to their seats. A few of the students performed before the fashion show started. Their repertoire featured a partner dance number as well as live vocals for Connie Francis’ “Stupid Cupid” (1958) and “Hound Dog” (1956) by Elvis. The audience rippled with laughter during a brief improv piece involving a cardboard jukebox and cigarette-shaped candies.
“It’s rare to hear of students having the opportunity to raise funds for scholarships that go to their own peers. Please know that all the tips your servers earn will go to scholarships for their fellow students at Buford High School,” announced President Morris.
The event ended with a drawing for the raffle items and a silent auction. In addition to the Tara Jewelry, some of the auctioned items included a $300 gift certificate to Olde Atlanta Golf Club, flower arrangements and potted plants, Vera Bradley purses, gift baskets, and assorted baked goods.
“Walmart is one of our sponsors, and they usually do a special presentation of the check. We’re so thankful for their support,” said Club member Carol Gibson.
The week following the fashion show, the Club’s Education Committee held a meeting to review the applications for each of their $1,000 scholarships.
“Every year we send out information about our scholarships, and this year, we received 28 applications,” said Elfreda Lakey of the Club’s Education Committee. “Our Education Committee then goes over the applications looking at their grade point average, how well they do in school, their need for the scholarship, things of that nature.”
BLWC is a non-profit committed to community service through various programs of Arts Conservation, Education and Community Life, and “Happy Days” was the theme for the BLWC’s Fundraiser/ Fashion Show. The scholarships are just one of the many charitable works they do each year. For 2019, BLWC will allocate funds to support the following organizations: The Believers Concert Band, Buford Community Girls Chorus, Buford High School Thespians, Buford Museum, Camp Sunshine, Camp Kudzu, Eagle Ranch, Elachee Nature Center, Gainesville Botanical Garden, Girls State, Hi Hope Center, Hudgens Center for the Arts, Mending the Gap, North Georgia Co-op, Partners Against Domestic Violence, and The Salvation Army.
More information can be found on their website: www.bufordlanierwomansclub.org.