Fashion show raises $21,000

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Winter seemed a world away last Thursday as the temperature climbed to 65 under sunny skies and friends and members of the Wilton Woman’s Club gathered at Rolling Hills Country Club to socialize and view a fashion show of this season’s spring collections from Lord & Taylor department store.

The event, which drew 210, raised a total of $21,000 for three nonprofit organizations that include Wilton in the area they serve: Circle of Care, Person-to-Person and Child Guidance Center of Mid-Fairfield County. In addition to the fashion show, guests bid on dozens of silent auction gift baskets, entered a raffle, and donated through a giving tree, all of which benefited the three recipients.

For Elizabeth Etzbach it was her first time at the fashion show and she came because friends are members of the woman’s club. “It’s a lovely kickoff to spring,” she said. “There’s a lot of great energy.”

There was quite a buzz around the silent auction as women examined gift baskets that included artwork, spa treatments, handbags, jewelry, and more.

Etzbach was with Heather Morello, who was also at the show for the first time. “I always heard about it, what a great event it is,” she said. “After a depressing winter you really want to get out. … You feel like you know so many people. It’s really nice to meet new people.”

Yohanna Cifuentes, director of organizational development at the child guidance center, said the woman’s club donation means “a lot” to her organization. “There have been a lot of budget cuts for mental health” that affect how organizations can serve their clients, who range from prenatal to 19 years old and are affected by a range of concerns, including depression, anxiety, school phobia, and domestic violence.

The state budget cuts, she said, are having a trickle-down effect in that as agencies that offer higher levels of care reduce services, their clients seek out other providers. “These cases are coming to us and require higher levels of care,” Cifuentes said. “We need more staff and more funding.

“We have a huge waiting list, a huge need for services.” She added, “Events like this are great to get our name in the community. We are so thankful.”

Liz Salguero, founder of Circle of Care, said that “being this is our hometown [the donation] means a tremendous amount. … The Wilton Woman’s Club is very generous. It helped when we first started out, and here we are 11 years later.”

Ceci Maher of Wilton, who is executive director at Person-to-Person, said, “I live here and I can’t be more excited to be in the room with people I’ve known years and years.”

She went on to say her agency serves 24,000 people a year with basic needs. “One in six children in Fairfield County doesn’t know what they are going to eat for dinner,” she said. The agency provided 733,000 meals last year and served 3,400 unique families.

The main event — the fashion show — was directed by woman’s club member Dianne deWitt, who told the audience that “pants are prime — in all shapes, lengths and widths,” along with “delectable dresses. This is the year of the dress. There is a style for everyone.”

As outfit after outfit came by, she added, “colors are across the board,” but when in doubt, “black is best.”

A dozen members of the woman’s club modeled fashions from a variety of design houses, including Vince Camuto, Trina Turk, Ralph Lauren, Raoul, Nic+Zoe, Eileen Fisher, DesignLab, Black Halo, Cynthia Steffe, Nanette Lepore, Michael Kors, JAX, BCBG, Bailey 44, XSCAPE and Badgley Mischka.

The club

The club celebrated its 49th anniversary just last month. According to its website, 12 women met at the home of Betty Sternad on March 18, 1966, but the first general meeting on May 13 of that year drew about 100 women to the Wilton Congregational Church.

Its mission was to bring women together for educational purposes and to be of service to the community. Members volunteer with a number of charitable organizations, including Person-to-Person’s food pantry and clothing center and the Connecticut Food Bank. In January, the club sponsored a blood drive at Trackside with the American Red Cross.

Along with volunteer service, the club has raised significant financial support for many projects, including Merwin Meadows, Adopt-A-Spot, the town’s first bicycle path, ambulance equipment, the Vial of Life medical information program, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the homebound, senior lunch and bingo, and blood drives and flu clinics.

Information: wiltonwomansclub.org.

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