- The Washington Times - Monday, June 21, 2004

Hot, muggy weather and a drenching cloudburst didn’t prevent 200 guests from trekking to developer Conrad Cafritz’s new Wesley Heights home Friday night for a “Soiree” barbecue, dance and art sale benefiting Haiti’s Hopital Albert Schweitzer.

Guests adhering to the “jackets and glitter” dress code soon removed the jackets; the glitter melted off on its own. So what if the air conditioning was off and most of the partying was in the steamy garden? After a few glasses of icy rum punch, nobody minded being sticky, and besides, there were pals one hadn’t seen in at least a week to chat to before Emeline Michel, the reigning “queen of Haitian song,” really heated up the scene with her eight-man band.

Jenifer Grant, stepdaughter of the hospital’s late founder, Dr. W. Larimer Mellon Jr., commended the hosts for a tribal gathering so late in the season. She gave special credit to Louise Bruce, 17, whose recent internship at the hospital inspired her mother, Constance Bruce, to organize the event with an “energetic and enthusiastic group” that included Mr. Cafritz, Beverly Sullivan (who managed the Haitian art sale), Leslie Cockburn and Mathilda Cox.

“Our endowment only covers $1 million of our $6 million annual budget,” Mrs. Grant said of the 14-doctor facility, which provides care to 300,000 rural Haitians sorely affected by poverty, malnutrition, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Guests spoke movingly of Dr. Mellon, who was so inspired by the humanitarian work of Dr. Albert Schweitzer that he went to medical school at the age of 39 and then dedicated the rest of his life — and much of his considerable family fortune — to those in need.

Members of the far-flung Mellon clan continue to support the cause, including Andrea Currier (a granddaughter of the late Ailsa Mellon Bruce); her daughter Chloe Squires (who also recently worked as an intern at the hospital); Christopher and Laurie Mellon; and Louise Hitchcock Stephaich.

“I talk it up at family reunions,” Mrs. Stephaich said. “A lot of them don’t know about it.”

George and Nannette Herrick; Graham Wisner; Marcia McGhee Carter; Bill and Alison Paley; Olvia Demetriou and Theo Adamstein; Bolivian Ambassador Jaime Aparicio and his wife, Pamela; Outerbridge and Georgina Horsey; Christopher Addison and Sylvia Ripley; and Tommy Bruce were among the also-sighted — near the buffet (featuring roast chicken and goat by local Haitian caterers) or on the dance floor, which cooled off after midnight with a merciful breeze.

Kevin Chaffee

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