SOME MOMS sit back and wait to see what all they get for Mother's Day.
But for the mother and sister of Will Smith, one of Hollywood's biggest stars, Mother's Day is all about giving. On Sunday, his sister Ellen Smith will host her ninth annual Mother's Day at the Mansion at her sprawling estate in Bryn Mawr.
Tucked away behind an impressive set of black wrought-iron gates, the grounds are just breathtaking - tennis courts, swimming pool, gazebo and a gorgeous pond. There's an air of serenity.
Come Sunday, though, the Bryn Mawr estate is going to be party central. A limited number of tickets are available at $60 for adults.
Last year, actress Tichina Arnold ("Martin," "Everybody Hates Chris") hosted the event along with singer/actor Chris Williams ("New Jack City"). This time around, Ellen says she's lined up an even more well-known star for the affair, which gets under way at 2 p.m. (Hint: She's an award-winning actress/singer.)
This year, Ellen will present what she's calling a "Diamond Diva Award" to local notables, including Channel 6 broadcasting legend Lisa Thomas-Laury and WDAS radio personality Mimi Brown, among others. Families from select local homeless shelters have been invited and a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Stenton Family Manor in Mount Airy.
As we sipped champagne in the kitchen and chatted this week about Sunday's party, I kept thinking, that's a whole lot of work for a Mother's Day. But Will Smith's mother, Carolyn, said: "I enjoy it since I don't have to do anything. I just have to be here. I think it's a great concept. In addition to giving mothers something to do on their day, Ellen enjoys doing it and I enjoy watching it. It's something that she does and she does it from the heart."
Ellen got into the party-throwing business on a whim. She and her mother were doing spring cleaning when they came up with the idea to throw a designer yard sale to sell their old Gucci and Chanel bags and other designer merchandise.
"My chef at the time said, 'You know, you should take it bigger,' " Ellen recalled.
The next year, Ellen arranged for some underprivileged women to join the Mother's Day festivities. By year three, she'd included pamper stations so partygoers could get massages and facials.
"We as mothers, we do a lot and so many times our contributions just to our families go unrecognized," Ellen told. "I wanted to show them somebody recognizes because as a mother, myself, I understand."
When she's not throwing parties, Ellen, a licensed cosmetology instructor, volunteers at the nearby Presbyterian Children's Village, where she does the girls' hair. Her dream: To create a full-scale salon catering to the at-risk girls who stay there.
"I was one of those troubled teen girls who didn't think anybody cared," said Ellen, who's recently divorced.
Growing up, Ellen struggled with self-esteem issues.
"I grew up with two light-skinned brothers. We went to all-white schools. I remember thinking, 'I wonder what I would look like if I were light-skinned?' "
Brothers Will and Harry, her twin, were good about reassuring her.
"Family is everything," said Ellen, who has two daughters. "My Mother's Day event is a family event. You'll feel it. There's a feeling you'll get when you come here."