Robison gala evening March 8 brings ‘Rat Pack’ to Benson
By Deborah Moon
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This year’s gala evening on March 8 to benefit residents of Robison Jewish Health Center is all about returns.
“The Best is Yet to Come” is the theme of the March 8 dinner at the Benson Hotel to honor and benefit residents of the Robison Jewish Health Center. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres starting at 6:30 will be followed by a sit-down dinner and show.
The entertainment is a return to a bygone era. “The Rat Pack is Back” is a tribute re-creation of the free-wheeling nightclub performances of famed Las Vegas performers and Hollywood icons Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. Accompanied by a 12-piece orchestra, performers will take the audience back to the magic of that era singing songs such as “Come Fly With Me,” “That’s Amore” and “Mr. Bojangles.”
Co-chairs Michelle Eastern Gradow and Heidi Leopold Grenley also are back for an encore performance. Last year’s “Broadway comes to Broadway” event netted $108,000 for the home, so the pair agreed to try to recreate their success.
“It’s like a well-oiled machine, we work so well together,” said Gradow.
“We work very hard to create a fun, exciting event without spending a lot of money,” said Grenley. “We knew we could exceed last year in terms of the quality of the event and the money we raised.”
The chairs have already exceeded last year, and their own expectations for this year, by raising an unprecedented $117,000 in sponsorships for the event. Last year they raised the previous record in sponsorships of $75,000.
“We have been able to maintain the very generous sponsors, who are also asked to donate to many other worthwhile organizations, but they continue to support Robison Home,” said Grenley. “And we’ve been able to attract many new sponsors to support our elders.”
Gradow credited her mother Bev Eastern with raising $20,000 in sponsorships and also coming up with the evening’s theme, “The Best is Yet to Come.” And while Gradow’s repeat performance in chairing the event is also a tribute to the 17 years her parents chaired the event, she doesn’t expect to match that record.
The event also marks a return to the Benson Hotel, where last year’s event met with rave reviews.
“The Benson is so good to us,” said Gradow.
One new feature this year is the services of a guest chef working with the Benson chef and staff to create an unforgettable meal. Nationally acclaimed Chef Vitaly Paley of Paley’s Place will work with Chef Scott Kushner of The London Grill to design the evening’s menu.
But of course the biggest return of the evening is for the community’s elders. At its core, the elegant evening is all about enhancing the lives of the seniors who live at Robison Jewish Health Center on the Cedar Sinai Park campus.
Grenley noted that about half of the residents are on Medicaid, which pays only 60 percent of the cost of each resident’s care and CSP “has to cover the difference.”
“These people worked hard all their lives but they ran out of money and Medicaid does not pay for the things they need to have the life they had before they came to the home,” said Gradow. “We want to make sure they have these things.”
Last year’s benefit sold out five weeks after invitations went out and the co-chairs expect this year’s event to sell out even faster given reservations are already coming in even though invitations don’t go out till early January.
Tickets for the event are $140 per person. Reservations are requested by Feb. 22. For more information, call 503-535-4422.