Monday, March 1, 2004

District resident J.B. Meek stood out in his colorful kilt at the Decade Society’s 25th anniversary black-tie ball Saturday night.

“I thought I would show my true Scottish colors,” Mr. Meek said at Sequoia Restaurant in Washington Harbor as he looked over the 175 silent-auction items being sold in behalf of Safe Shores, an organization providing programs and services for children during the investigation and prosecution of child abuse.

Mr. Meek hardly embodied the stereotype of the tightfisted Scotsman, nor did the guests who bid generously on travel packages, restaurant meals, sporting equipment, health and beauty products and other items throughout the night.

“D.C. opens their pocketbooks for charities like ,” said silent-auction committee co-chairman Rusty Roddy, who reported that friends and supporters really came through this year for the Decade Society, whose 60 members select a charity each year to receive funds from its annual ball. (Since its founding in 1979, the club has raised more than $1 million.)

Nearly 400 benefactors turned out to eat, drink and socialize at the “Regatta Gala” which boasted a setting fittingly decorated in a nautical theme. Life preservers were attached to the restaurant’s second-floor railing giving it the appearance of an ocean liner’s boat deck with a much larger paper preserver placed in the entryway for picture-posing purposes.

There was no racing of yachts or speedboats, although the event did succeed by whisking in a record amount from the auction, a raffle and general ticket sales. Decade Society President David S. Crowley said he was optimistic the group would raise at least $100,000 this year.

“It’s fun. It’s light. It’s pretty,” said Cassie Statuto Bevan, a Safe Shores board member who contrasted the scene with the environment of so many D.C. children “living in darkness behind the shadows of abuse and neglect.”

But, she added, “it’s events like these that bring them out into the light.”

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