Bill Sasso, chairman of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, received the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's highest honor, the William Penn Award for business and civic leadership, at its annual black-tie gala Friday night at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue. Sasso, a be-boppin' barrister, requested an oldies theme that featured mini root beer floats at cocktails, a checkerboard dance floor, centerpieces brimming with pink and red carnations to resemble strawberry ice cream sodas, and table favors of tiny Thunderbirds filled with penny candy. Spotted twisting the night away to the CTO Fifth Avenue band with 900 other partygoers were the gala co-chairs - Independence Blue Cross president and CEO Joe Frick, Acme president Judy Spires, and Citizens Financial Group president and CEO Steve Steinour - and their spouses.
If Jim Cramer, stock-tipmeister and host of the wild and wacky CNBC show
, got to give Eagles coach Andy Reid an earful about football, would Reid listen? Maybe. If it were for a good cause. On Saturday night, Cramer phoned in his winning bid of $15,000 for the chance to "Pitch a Play to Andy Reid" over lunch, at the annual fund-raiser for Laurel House at Lincoln Financial Field. Spotted among the 250 guests talking shop with Reid were former Eagles teammates Bill Bergey and Ron Jaworski, WIP-AM (610) sportscaster Howard Eskin, the voice of the Eagles Merrill Reese, and Fox29 sports anchor Don Tollefson, the evening's honoree. Proceeds from the gala, which raised $210,000, will support the programs of Laurel House, Montgomery County's only emergency shelter for women and their children who are victims of domestic abuse.
For Charlie and Weezie Baker, their custom fulfillment services business, Baker Industries, is a labor of love. Motivated to find employment for their adult son Justin, who has unpredictable seizures, the Bakers founded the nonprofit work transition program in 1980. It now employs about 180 high-functioning handicapped adults, the homeless, and ex-offenders. The employees, who earn minimum wage, handle such jobs as mailings, shrink wrapping and collating at two facilities in Malvern and West Kensington. The Bakers, with 250 of their friends and supporters, enjoyed an evening of dinner and dancing at Baker's 26th Anniversary Gala on Saturday night at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square. The gala, which raised about $90,000, honored longtime Baker board member Jeffrey Rotwitt, a partner at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.
Best-selling authors Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series), Jennifer Weiner (
In Her Shoes
) and Mireille Guiliano (
French Women Don't Get Fat
) enthralled members of the Free Library's George S. Pepper Society with readings from their latest tomes, an inside look at the creative process, and personal book signings at the society's annual Pickwick Salon Friday night at the Central Library. The evening, which was a sneak preview of the library's first annual Philadelphia Book Festival held last weekend, also featured authors Leslie Marmon Silko, Jessie Gruman, David Wiesner and Ann Rule. The Pepper Society, a library donor group of 275 memberships, raised $285,000 last year to fund library and after-school programs for children and teens.
British composer Tony Macaulay sang for his supper Saturday night when he took to the piano for a surprise performance of some of his hit pop songs, "Don't Give Up On Us Baby" and "Build Me Up, Buttercup," at the Walnut Street Theatre's 198th Birthday Gala at the Benjamin Franklin House. Macaulay also composed the music for the theater's 2006 season opener,
, the musical version of the 1928 play
The Front Page
. Sharing the limelight with Macaulay was philanthropist and prominent Malvern businessman Ed Satell. Both received the theater's Edwin Forrest Award for their contributions to American theater. The black-tie gala, which drew 350 guests, raised $70,000 for the theater's education and outreach programs that annually serve more than 95,000 children in the region.
Last week, "Social Circuit" dropped a zero from the number of students served by Settlement Music School. The school, which has six branches in Philadelphia and Camden, annually serves 15,000 students.