May 21 was the 12th anniversary of the Shade Tree transitional housing program’s Girls Night Out fundraiser at Bellagio’s Hyde nightclub. Girls Night Out is Shade Tree’s largest annual benefit.
The women, children and pets sheltered at Shade Tree come from situations of homelessness, domestic abuse, domestic servitude and sex trafficking. Last year, Shade Tree helped 6,000 women.
“We don’t want them to go back to that situation,” Shade Tree Executive Director Marlene Richter said. “Domestic violence is a calculated approach to ruin (a person’s) self-esteem and take control. It’s a long journey of healing.”
With programs ranging from three months to one year, the facility offers an on-site medical clinic, pediatric and prenatal care, adult medical care and vaccinations.
Girls Night Out attracted nearly 400 people and was co-chaired by Chancey White and Dana Manacher, members of Friends of the Shade Tree.
The event included silent and live auctions featuring bidding mainly on designer purses. Justin Manacher, Dana’s husband, a senior vice president at Bellagio, won the bid of $4,000 for a Celine purse.
“My wife worked so hard on this event, even though she’s pregnant. She deserved something new,” Manacher said.
“Girls Night Out started 12 years ago when Karen Sporn and Marsha Gallagher decided they would help women,” Richter said. “They go to a different nightclub each year and raise money, and came up with something women will buy; that’s purses. Groups of women get together and buy expensive designer purses and auction them at Girl’s Night Out.”
A Nina Sanchez evening gown also was offered for bid. Raffle tickets from a dollar to $25 were selling like hotcakes because the top prize was a $5,000 gift certificate to Kwiat Boutique at Bellusso Jewelers.
“We expect to raise over $250,000,” Dana Manacher said. She followed in her mother Karen Sporn’s footsteps after Karen, Denise Cashman and Marsha Gallagher started Friends of the Shade Tree 12 years ago, and continue to volunteer.
The committee pulled out all the stops to make it an unforgettable night. Champagne flowed uninterrupted with appetizers, and the music provided by Las Vegas entertainer Frankie Moreno had people on the dance floor, nonstop.
There were plenty of fashionistas in the house wearing designer “bling.” Lynn Weidner wore a smashing white jumpsuit, with a skinny black belt and round, low-cut back. Brittany McCoy sported a stylish baby-doll pink dress and round-toed black patent heels.
Leora Blau and Christy Molasky had a lot in common with these ladies. They bought their designer dresses at Vasari in Tivoli Village.
Others in attendance included schoolteacher James Jennings, who has attended this event for six years. “It’s a great cause and a great event and lots of fun,” Jennings said. Galit Rozen, Beth Schultz, Ali Savage, Donna Stratton and Aubhana Atwell Chat also attended.
Roland Pascua from Bonotel Exclusive Travel created the visuals pro bono.
To date, Friends of the Shade Tree has raised $2.4 million.