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Toast of The Vineyard Goes To Tinseltown

Harmony House Rolling Out Red?Carpet for Fundraiser

Harmony House fundraising team members, from left, Chatman Neely, Leslie Vassilaros, Kayleen Fitzsimmons and Jay Jack, “take the show on the road” as they prepare to glam it up for the annual Toast of the Vineyard with a Tinseltown theme.

Harmony House is rolling out the red carpet for patrons during its annual Toast of the Vineyard fundraiser on Aug. 5 catered by River City Restaurant at the Wheeling Artisan  Center.

“We’re having a Hollywood theme in black and white,” said Leslie Vassilaros, executive director, explaining the decor will be monochromatic like the films of old, and guests are invited to wear cocktail attire or styles from the Golden Age of Hollywood (the 1930s-50s).

At least one big-time modern celebrity will be well represented during the evening. Vassilaros said Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation donated various items for the chance raffle and live auction, including a silver candle sculpted in the pop singer’s likeness and an autographed limited edition print of her “Art Pop” album cover. The foundation also donated items Lady Gaga designed for Barneys New York, such as stuffed monster toys, a teacup and saucer, a canvas bag and three pairs of sunglasses.

“She also donated 100 big monsters to our kids at the center,” Vassilaros said, noting they normally cost $30 apiece.

The Tinseltown theme will play out in the decor, the commemorative photos and the red carpet, on which guests will be interviewed by a TV personality just like celebrities at Hollywood’s big award shows.

Above, Leslie Vassilaros, executive director of Harmony House, Children’s Advocacy Center, strums the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar that will be offered at the live auction during the Toast of the Vineyard. The event is scheduled for Aug. 5 at River City in Wheeling.

Speaking of big awards, for the first time, Harmony House is recognizing three donors who have given $100,000-plus over the 13 years of the children’s advocacy center’s existence.

The Mary Ellen Willson Humanitarian Award will be presented to Brothers of the Wheel-Northern West Virginia chapter, Ohio Valley Medical Center/East Ohio Regional Hospital and the Christian Fellowship Foundation.

“I’m just excited to be in a position where we have people who have been there continuously over the years for us when they could have gone other ways,” Vassilaros said.

The 12th annual Toast of the Vineyard will take place from 7-10:30 p.m. and will feature more than 20 wines and beers from Germany, Italy, Australia and the U.S., along with hors d’oeuvre and carved sirloin stations on the Artisan Center’s third floor.

Hit Play will provide the entertainment.

Photos Provided The new Mary Ellen Wilson Humanitarian Award is made of blown glass with hints of teal, which is the color for child abuse awareness, and other splashes of bright color that Harmony House executive director Leslie Vassilaros said remind her of the colors of a happy childhood.

“We promise you a good time as you are helping a good cause. Funds raised will help our local children alleging abuse to have the resources necessary for healing,” Vassilaros said.

Harmony House, Children’s Advocacy Center is a comprehensive, child-focused program that allows prosecutors, law enforcement, child protective service workers, medical and mental health professionals, and victim advocates to work together to strengthen the community’s response to all forms of child abuse. It serves Ohio and Marshall counties in West Virginia and Belmont County in Ohio, with locations in Wheeling and St. Clairsville. The center, founded in 2003, operates entirely on grants, donations and proceeds from special events, such as Toast of the Vineyard.

“This event is really the annual fundraising event that helps us fill those holes in our budget,” Vassilaros noted.

In addition to the live auction and chance auction, there will be a silent auction, a cork pull for bottles of wine and $10 mystery grab-bag items.

Live auction items include a Callaway driver and golf bag and greens passes for local courses; two nights at the Barn With Inn Bed and Breakfast in Brooke County; Walt Disney World Park Hopper passes for four; dinner for six with private chef Bob Bailey; Mexican dinner for 20 in winner’s home catered by Ye Olde Alpha; weekend cabin stay at Grand Vue Park; and a Gibson Les Paul Future electric guitar with self-tuning feature.

A carved candle bust of Lady Gaga’s likeness will be auctioned at the event, which will take place Aug. 5 at the River City Restaurant’s third floor banquet hall in the Wheeling Artisan Center.

Event tickets can be purchased by calling 304-230-2205 or online at https:/ totv2016.eventbrite.com.

Vassilaros said the Fitzsimmons Foundation and the Christian Fellowship Foundation are the title sponsors of Toast of the Vineyard. Additional sponsors include: Bordas & Bordas; Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #38; Raymond James Financial Services Inc.; RDC Inc. (Dicarlo’s Pizza); Youth Services System; Direct Online Marketing; First Choice of America Federal Credit Union; Fort Henry Capital LLC; Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield WV; LEM, Lorraine M. Eckard-Attorney at Law; OVMC/EORH; Peacock Keller; Progressive Bank; Project Best; Sandra L. Nicholoff-Attorney at Law LLC; Ziegenfelder Co. Inc.; Bayer Heritage Credit Union; Wheeling Hospital; Dominion Foundation; and Garry L. Lewis, DDS, Inc.

“A special thank you to Wine and Beverage Merchants of (West Virginia) who have donated wine for 12 years to the Toast of the Vineyard,” Vassilaros added.

For more information or to become a sponsor of the event, visit harmonyhousecacwv.org or call 304-230-2205.

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