‘It’s a girls night out, honey, there ain’t no doubt ’

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

From left, Margie Deane Gray, Julie Thomas, Liz Mora, Christy Schaerer and Alena Egner lead a toast during Girls Night Out, a benefit for the Women’s Resource Center, Friday evening at Blue Lake Ranch. Thomas, at almost 92, and Egner, 19, demonstrate the breadth of support for the WRC.

In its fourth outing, the Women’s Resource Center’s Girls Night Out hit all the right notes. I kept thinking the Judds’ song “Girls Night Out” should be playing because there was no doubt the attendees had come to party.

It was a 10-ring circus of a party because there were so many choices of things to do at the Ridgewood Event Center at Blue Lake Ranch on Friday. (David and Shirley Isgar Alford always are great hosts.)

The best place to begin is the food because Sari Brown and her crew at The Yellow Carrot put on a show of their own. It wasn’t just how extravagant the spread was – and it was extravagant – but the presentation was spectacular, too.

A sushi array ranged from A to Z, literally, including grilled asparagus and zucchini, tuna, salmon, brown butter squash, watermelon, radish, daikon sprouts, tomato, avocado, cucumber, snap peas and sesame seaweed. The sushi was presented on platters floating on what Brown called a moat, but it was more like a little river floating in a circle: way cool.

The Asian and Mediterranean Nosh Bar included chickpea fritters, Japanese potstickers, chicken tatsuta (Japanese-style fried chicken), grilled Moroccan flatbread, Sicilian focaccia rings, Yemeni doughnuts and Turkish sesame galettes, served on a long table with some of it hanging on hooks above. Also on the table were assorted dips and toppings for the noshes, including basil-whipped feta, jalapeño-yogurt dip, dill-cheddar hummus, panang chile dip, Saigon cinnamon cream cheese, cherry-habanero cream, red pepper tahini and lemon-artichoke butter.

Not in the mood for those goodies? Try a slider. There was a choice of three – a “pimped-out” turkey breast with walnut pesto, cherry chutney and brie; roasted red beets with goat cheese, sprouts and Dijon mustard; or tomato and candied bacon, basil and three cheeses on Italian toast.

In addition to potent potables courtesy of W.J. Doyle Wine and Spirits, Brown also served delicious basil-lemonade and ginger-orange slurry sippers.

You must have chocolate at a women’s event. (Really, it’s a rule.) But Brown went all out, creating a S’More Bar, with housemade vanilla, chocolate and strawberry marshmallows; housemade peanut butter, hazelnut and double chocolate graham crackers; and a plethora of toppings, including butterscotch caramel, hazelnut-chocolate sauce, KitKat salsa, strawberries, stuffed raspberries, chantilly cream, white chocolate crunchies and choco toffee, as well as assorted frozen yogurts with roasted berries. A row of little burners let everyone roast marshmallows.

There were belly dancers, courtesy of Mataholla Moon Belly Dancing. Staff from Thrive: A Creating Wellness Center provided chair massages – popular with a lot of women after a long work-week. Beverly Helmich from Crazy Horse International Salon and staff members from Signature Salon and Day Spa provided hair glitter, manicures and pedicures. Also helping many of the more than 200 attendees “get their glam on” was Patty Kelly from Extreme Lashes.

Groups of friends had a blast commemorating the occasion with photos from Illuminarts Photography thanks to Drew and Amy Semel. Mary Kay consultant Erin Tanner analyzed the personalities of women who submitted a lip print, and Julia Hesse of Insights Tarot and Leah Ilanah looked into the future for those who had tarot readings. Franci Stagi offered palm readings, Crystal Andasola of Sacred Space gave spiritual readings and Celeste Aurorean of Kaleidoscope Community Wellness gave wellness readings.

An amazing number of cool silent auction items, including jewelry, great vacation getaways to everywhere from Moab and Silverton to Albuquerque and Del Mar, Calif., art, golf, family photographs ... there was an enticing selection of items donated by individuals and businesses that support the Women’s Resource Center and its mission of empowering women because women who are at their best help their families thrive.

A few special items were sold in a live auction. Calvin and Pat Story from Treasure Auction continued their streak of donating time to benefit auctions.

As if the Alfords had not donated a lot already, they also threw in a stay at their Don Gaspar Inn in Santa Fe. Some group of girlfriends is going to have a fun road trip with that.

A Snowdown Follies Gala package and a week’s stay at the Colorado Trails Ranch – Glen and Ginny Segerlund supported the event in several ways – were big money-getters, but the crowd had the most fun when Rent-a-Man Handyman Services owners Eric Sirois and Joe Storc worked their donation of 16 hours of labor into quite a routine featuring tools – not that kind, this is a family newspaper – and a dance that drove bidding up to $1,100. (It might help readers imagine the act if I say Storc has performed in the Snowdown Follies the last few years.)

The best part was Calvin Story’s face during it all: he didn’t know where to look as the ladies went crazy, and the men amped it up. Sirois and Storc have been generous supporters of the WRC since they began their business, and they continued in that spirit Friday night.

It all added up to $30,000 for the WRC and its programs.

The speechifying was kept to a minimum, but Margie Deane Gray, the president of the WRC board, took a couple of minutes to make a champagne toast to the organization on its 25th anniversary and share a little of what happens on a daily basis.

She asked me to make sure the staff is mentioned because they are like The Little Engine that Could. (That’s my description.) Executive Director Liz Mora, Marketing and Fund Development Director Deborah Uroda and Programs Director Christy Schaerer are all among the best in town in the nonprofit world (or for-profit world, for that matter) when it comes to effectiveness.

When the WRC was founded 25 years ago, it helped 200 women in its first year. Last year, that number was 800 women. The organization gave its first five scholarships this year, including three for certificate programs, all to help women improve their self-sufficiency.

Coming soon is a program that sounds exciting, similar to the WRC’s enormously successful Girls to Women, Women to Girls, which helps eighth-grade girls prepare for high school. The new one will be for fourth- and fifth-grade girls looking toward middle school.

There were happy, laughing faces everywhere, but two of those faces best represented the wide cross-section of women who came to the event and who believe in this organization and all it represents. Julie Thomas, resplendent in a black, beaded gown and white feather boa, is “almost 92,” as she puts it. Just beginning her journey as a woman was the equally lovely Alena Egner, wearing a white, lace dress. (Guests were encouraged to wear white and silver in honor of the WRC’s silver anniversary.)

There are not enough words to thank the members of the committee who organized the event and volunteered at it, but here is my humble attempt. In addition to several of the people already mentioned, bravos galore go to Judy Abercrombie, Marcy Branham, Victoria FittsMilgrim, Tami Graham, Will Gray, Moni and JonasGrushkin, Pamela Hasterok, John Heavenrich, Sondra Joyce, Susie Peterson, Jen Prosser, Michelle Sainio, Lynne Sholler, Beverly Wells, Daniel Wiggins, Mandy Miller Winn and Clay Winn.

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Enjoying all the fun a summer birthday brings are Mike Ollier, Jane Norton, Justice Tower, Jenny Hancock, Susan Davies, Geri Swingle, BillieAdams, Wilma Cooper, Vika Huber, Karen Preston, Ron Holligan, RichardPratt, Jodell Johnson, Linda Russell, Pat Russell, EssicaWilliams, Jeron Plotnik, John Awe, Matt Mulligan, Melodie Addington, Melanie Taylor and Barbara Hunter.

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My colleague Pamela Hasterok wrote about the gala that kicked off the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Aug. 18 in the Food section that ran Aug. 22, but she left out something pretty important. The big dinner, the tent, the party (a “helluva good party,” someone told me) were all the result of a lot of planning – eight-months worth – by a small group of committed people.

Shanan Campbell Wells and Amy Sismondo chaired the group of hard workers that included Karen Midkiff, Debra Parmenter and Gordon Thomas. (A quick aside – Thomas does a wonderful job in his role as first gentleman of Fort Lewis College. He volunteers for a number of organizations, and he seems happy squiring his wife, FLC President Dene Kay Thomas, as she attends numerous functions.)

Neighbors tries to give credit where credit is due, but it may be impossible on the Pro Cycling Challenge. It might be easier to list who didn’t volunteer.

Now we wait and see how the world responds after learning about our little corner of paradise. I bet they’ll be showing up on our doorstep.

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Matt and Evelyn Martinez are two proud grandparents. Their grandson Grant Martinez has been so outstanding as a tight end (he also can play split end) for the Saints at Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., 11 colleges tried to recruit him: when he was a junior. Last season, he led the Saints with 36 catches for 411 yards and six touchdowns.

Some of the schools offering scholarships included Stanford University, the University of California at Los Angeles and that little school down the street, Arizona State University in Mesa, which happens to be his father’s alma mater.

Grant is the son of Matt and Robin Martinez.

That Matt, who graduated from Durango High School, was a star football player for the Sun Devils at ASU. Grant said his father didn’t try to persuade him to pick ASU, the school also attended by Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

But pick it he did, and while Grant hasn’t officially signed yet, that will probably happen sooner rather than later.

But right now he’s off in Ireland, where Friday, Notre Dame Prep will play Philadelphia’s Father Judge High School in an event sponsored by Global Football Inc.

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Once upon a time they had a late summer wedding. Now Ron and Jeanie Lephart are celebrating a late summer anniversary.

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neighbors@durangoherald.com

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