Fashions for a Cause hits the runway on April 6

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2016

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post

At the end of “Casablanca,” Rick tells Ilsa, “We’ll always have Paris.” A few moments later, with Ilsa’s plane safely in the air, he looks at Louie and remarks, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Since 1999, The Rowan County Medical Society Alliance and the Community Care Clinic have had a beautiful relationship. Through its Fashions for a Cause, the alliance has raised more than $200,000 for the clinic, which provides medical and dental care and medications to adults in Rowan County who are uninsured or underinsured.

This year’s Fashions for a Cause is set for April 6 at Catawba College’s Crystal Lounge. Doors open at 10 a.m. for shopping with local vendors, the luncheon and fashion show following at 11:30 a.m. There are fewer than 30 seats left for the event, this year carries the theme “April in Paris.”

Local vendors participating this year include Jackie Ford Jewelry, the Stichin’ Post, Anna Craig Boutique, the Lettered Lily, Lora Belle, Tastefully Simple and Abigail’s. Phyllis Steimel will serve as artist-in-residence for the day.

Although the alliance gives the bulk of its donation following the fashion show, members also give at the end of the year to the Guardian Angel Fund in honor of physicians who volunteer their time at the clinic, according to Charlotte Hall, who serves on the Fashions for a Cause committee.

The event started, according to Joyce Goodwin, another committee member, “because we wanted to raise money for an agency who helped in the community.”

“A lot of our husbands donated their time there,” says committee member Betsy Fazia. “At the time, it was a new agency, and we felt if our husbands supported it, we needed to support it. In a small community, to have this type of clinic is very impressive to me.”

Alliance members felt the fundraiser would also serve to raise the clinic’s visibility in the community, Goodwin notes.

“We simply would not be the clinic we are today without the longtime and faithful support of the alliance,” says Krista Woolly, executive director of the Community Care Clinic. “Over the years, alliance members have served on our board of directors, chaired fundraising efforts apart from the fashion show, volunteered in the clinic, spread the word to others about what we do, and on and on. We operate on a small budget, and the fashion show income goes a very long way in supporting the clinic.

“This is their 18th year, and the total amount raised in those years is just over $200,000 — that’s a lot of money!”

“We believe in the cause,” Fazia says. “It’s a win-win situation. We raise money for the clinic, and our vendors get some exposure, too. They hopefully get extra people in their stores that weekend, and they give 10 percent of their profits to the fundraiser.”

“We’ve learned a lot over the years,” Goodwin says.

“Every year, we’ve gotten more efficient,” Fazia adds.

“The community looks forward to it,” Hall says. “It’s still quite a popular event.”

Models this year include Kent Bernhardt, who will also sing “April in Paris.” Catawba College President Brien Lewis will also take a turn on the runway, as will Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander and Rowan County Commissioner Judy Klusman.

David Whisenant of WBTV’s Salisbury Bureau will again serve as emcee.

“I believe that one of the talents God has given me is to stand up in front of people and act silly,” he says. Whisenant is not afraid to tackle the more subtle terms that come up during the course of the fashion show. And, he says, “I do believe in the mission of the Community Care Clinic. We need to be about helping the less fortunate in whatever ways we can.”

That includes putting on a fashion show, Fazia says.

“If you truly believe in a cause and your heart is in it, that’s what sets it up for success,” Fazia says.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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