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Column: Phoenix Society celebrates 50 years
by Sally F. White
Neighbor Newspapers Columnist
December 24, 2013 12:46 PM | 3604 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
Sally White, Northside Neighbor Columnist
This holiday season will mark the 50th year for the venerable Phoenix Society to celebrate the introduction of young women to society and the tradition of civic obligations and responsibilities to the community. On Dec. 22 the annual Phoenix Presentation Ball at the Cherokee Town Club in Buckhead brought families and friends and past debutantes together as they looked to the future of Phoenix’s two-fold purpose.    

The nonprofit society was formed in 1964 by a group of gentlemen of “exemplary character and background” who wanted to formally introduce their daughters to society and their coming-of-age civic obligations. The name “Phoenix” was taken from the mythical bird of great beauty and longevity that consumed itself by fire, only to rise again from its ashes in the freshness of youth.

The first community project for the fledging young women was the Easter Seal Auxiliary of the Atlanta Rehabilitation Center. Over the years they spread their philanthropic wings with contributions to the High Museum of Art Acquisition Fund and other charitable activities.

In 1980 the debutantes elected to center their efforts with the world-renowned Shepherd Center to not only give ongoing financial support but contribute volunteer service at the exceptional nonprofit Atlanta hospital. It specializes in the care of people with spinal cord injuries and diseases, acquired brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and other neuromuscular disorders. Shepherd is also one of the leaders in treating trauma to the brain suffered by wounded American military service personnel.

Co-chairs for the anniversary presentation were Marie Vachon, a past Phoenix debutante, and Melinda Dabbiere, mother of past Phoenix debutante Courtney Dabbiere.

“The Phoenix Society is very proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ball, the accomplishments of our past debutante classes in their community involvement and to introduce the Class of 2013 who will continue the traditions of the Phoenix Society and its mission,” society President Reginald I. Vachon said.

Information: (404) 307-8528.

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The Starfish Ball, a festive Mardi Gras-style celebration Jan. 4 at the St. Regis in Buckhead, will spotlight and support the nsoro Educational Foundation for children in foster care.

At the black-tie event, reminiscent of the famous New Orleans Carnival revelry, nsoro founder Darrell Mays will be honored as King of Carnival and long-time supporter Lorri McClain as Queen. Cocktails, a gourmet dinner, a silent auction, a carnival parade and dancing will make the ball one of Atlanta’s most colorful and glamorous New Year benefits.

Heading the host committee are: Bonnie Terwilliger Leadbetter, Jack Sawyer and Dr. Bill Torres, Cindy and Bill Voyles, Vickie and Howard Palefsky and a dedicated group of supporters.

Founded in 2005 by the Mays family of Atlanta, the foundation raises much-needed funds for education programs for children in foster care and those who age out or emancipate from it. In addition to providing scholarship funds, the nonprofit matches each student with an adult mentor for support and encouragement.

Based in northeast Atlanta, the nonprofit foundation name is a derivative of the Ghana word “nsormma,” meaning “belief in a higher being” and is a symbol of guardianship — always written in lowercase to signify humility.

The ball is named for “The Starfish Poem” and adopted by the nsoro board to emphasize the importance of working to change lives of young people in foster care by making a positive difference in the lives of each student.

Tickets and information: (404) 524-0807 or

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Saks Fifth Avenue at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead has reserved retail space now through Jan. 28 for a special display/sale partnership to preview and sample the exceptional 2014 Trinity School Spotlight on Art Market in Buckhead. A special Saks’ Night Out champagne reception with the artists Jan. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. will herald a new wave of art finds.

Set for Feb. 3 through 8 and staged in the school’s gym on its Northside Parkway campus, the full-scale annual market presentation will start with an opening night cocktail party Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. to meet the participating artists and get an advance shopping opportunity. As the market winds down, it will host the Cocktails and Canvases party Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

The conclusion of the major fundraising effort will be celebrated Feb. 15 at the Spotlight Gala at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead.

The process of discovering and selecting 350 participating artists began almost a year ago. The setting at Trinity will showcase established and emerging artists with new, original art available for immediate purchase. It encompasses fine and decorative art in a variety of artistic styles including contemporary, impressionism, realism and folk art plus a gallery of jewelry and a home-and-garden area. Price points ensure that everyone — from avid collector to novice patron of the art world — can take home a treasure from the colorful, vibrant and creative collection.

The gallery will be open daily to the public and all items available for immediate sale.

This year marks the 33rd one for Trinity’s signature fundraising event and will gift the greater community by passing along proceeds from all facets of the 2014 events toward the school’s funding priorities such as continuing teacher education and scholarship funds as well as a local charity chosen by the 2013 sixth-grade leadership class, Let’s Cure CP, which benefits cerebral palsy patients and their families.

The 2014 market is led by Chairwoman Kimberly Lusink, and the co-chairs are Melissa Favero, Courtenay Gabriel and Sarah Stollmack.

Founded in 1951, Trinity is an independent coeducational school serving preschool and elementary children of diverse backgrounds and focuses on providing extraordinary educational experience for each young student.

Information: (404) 231-8119 or

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The Swan Coach House Gallery off Slaton Drive in Buckhead will begin its 2014 exhibition series Jan. 9 with an introductory showing of works by Atlanta artist Jayson Niles in his first solo exhibition titled “Anamalis.” It will be on display through Feb. 21.

Gallery Curator Marianne Lambert said the title is a made-up name by Niles to describe a mixture of animal, circus and anomaly — representations that deviate from the normal or expected. Addressing the animal kingdom and beyond, the artist uses found fur and wood to assemble the distinctive mixed-media sculptures. Niles intends for the viewer to acknowledge the past physicality of the animal while appreciating its new surreal context.

He has lived and worked in Atlanta since 1999. He received a bachelor’s degree in sculpture from Michigan State University and did custom woodwork with Koch-Smith Inc. in Chicago before joining Andrew T. Crawford Ironworks in Atlanta.

The exhibition is sponsored in memory of Jane Carter by Forward Arts Foundation members Joyce Ferris, Fay Howell, Emmy Knobloch, Bet Pope, Loraine Williams and Camille Yow.

An evening reception will introduce the artist Jan. 9, and Niles will return for a morning lecture Jan. 18 at 11 a.m..

The nonprofit foundation supports the visual arts in Atlanta with sales from the Swan Coach House gallery, gift shop and restaurant, all located on the Atlanta History Center’s campus.

Information: (404) 266-2636 or

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