3rd Annual "Haute Tea" of Love And Hope - part 1

Story/photos by Anne Jakowenko
September 12, 2014

Today Linda Gibb was honored for her work with the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation at a magnificent event. Here’s what happened.

I’ve just spent the day living a dream, the most beautiful kind of fantasy. I was present at the Haute Tea sponsored by the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. The dream became a reality as I watched the elegant women in beautiful hats sip champagne, eat a too- pretty -to- eat lunch (loved the creme brulee) and enjoy bidding on auction items (how about a Barry Gibb guitar and autographed book). The royal-like environment of the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami Beach, Florida was the perfect glittery setting for this unique event. It looks like a place James Bond would bring a lady spy to dinner. Chairwomen Jillian Posner and Dr. Stacy Chimento took on the challenge of creating an atmosphere that was worthy of oohs and aahs, and they exceeded all expectations.

I don’t like the words “society event” or “socialite”. They can imply that only the privileged or wealthy are involved. Contrary to this, I found that many of the ladies present are devoted to the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and its work and were passionate about attending. Money was saved to buy the ticket and bid on lovely auction items. I spoke with a lady whose boyfriend is a Type I diabetic. Another donated auction items because her mother is a diabetic. Carol from Orlando drove down because “I respect Linda Gibb and have always admired her. She is the perfect role model and the ideal for what it means to give back to the community. I just wanted to be here for her.”

Many women spoke to me about “the cause”. Dedication to this cause was a common bond, and we are all reminded that Type I Diabetes does not discriminate and touches children and adults from all walks of life. I was lucky enough to chat with Chairwoman Jillian Posner, who emotionally expressed her need to be personally involved. Her husband’s uncle Steven Posner was an active DRIF supporter and tragically passed away after being in a boating accident. Jillian said she “is carrying on for him”.

So what exactly is the “Young Society of Love and Hope”? Jillian explained that it is made up of enthusiastic, dedicated young women, many who have mothers and mothers-in-law who led the fight before them. “It is a reflection of love and support we give to other events. The funds go directly to DRI.” It was clear by her tone that Jillian loves being a part of this organization. “We are working for one goal, and we are all family”.

When I asked Jillian how much planning went into this special day, she explained that she began six months ago with committee meetings, which included the Gibb girls and a few others. “There is so much work to be done, including menu planning, working with sponsors, coordinating the fashion show; there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved.” Jillian was quick to give props to Linda Gibb. “Linda is very humble, and she would rather stay in the background, but she is amazing.” Regarding her co-chair, Jillian expressed appreciation for Stacy, who is a dermatologist working full-time. “She asked to be involved, and she is passionate about it. She actively draws people in, which is wonderful.”

I observed Jillian during the four-hour event and marveled at her poise, beauty, intellect and leadership. Ultimately, the responsibility for the success of the event rested on her young shoulders, and she was up to the task. I found her to be incredibly personable and charismatic. How lucky the DRIF is to have her working with them.

Now let’s get to the ballroom and what I witnessed there. Let’s just say that it was a smorgasbord for the eyes at every turn of my head. The room even smelled elegant, all five senses in a happy place. Listening to the champagne corks popping and the excited chatter, watching the ladies in stilettos and Kentucky Derby hats gaping at auction items, tasting what must have been food created by angels from above (or maybe Michaelangelo), for I have never seen desserts that looked more like works of art or tasted more heavenly (the pastry); I was feeling the energy that was palpable, somewhat like being at a rock concert when the booming percussion makes your heart feel as though it might burst.

I came to see and watch the Gibb women, Linda and her daughter Ali and the lovely daughters-in-law Therese, Stacy, Jenna and Gloria. The Gibb entourage is an impressively beautiful group, classically cool and savvy women who ooze the Gibb charm. And which girl is the most Carolina Herrera? And who’s got a touch of Betsy Johnson in her demeanor? They certainly know, but I’ll never tell. Because Linda was to be honored for her devotion to the DRIF and her decades of work and fundraising efforts, I was anxious to see her and hear what she had to say. Linda is a sparkling presence; her beauty never diminishes, and she continues to be gracious, funny and humble. Her acceptance speech was short, as she thanked those who helped her and acknowledged her family.

The icing on the cake was the surprise arrival of her sons and her soulmate. Yes, Barry walked in carrying roses and took the microphone for a few minutes, congratulating his wife and then asking, “What’s for dinner?” When Linda responded, “Nothing!”, Barry quipped, “That’s probably a good thing.” Laughter remains one of the foundations of their strong union. He also autographed the guitar for the lucky lady who won the bid, and it’s no surprise that she was glowing as they posed for a photo.

What I loved about this event was the laughter and good will that was felt throughout the ballroom. People were having fun, which isn’t always the case at charity events. Even though the goal was to raise money for the DRI, we all need laughter and joy in our lives. Fun is always good, as far as I’m concerned.

Speaking of fun, I’d like to thank the staff of the DRIF, especially Lauren Schreier, who is the best kind of public relations person (along with Jill and the other very cool ladies who work like demons at their jobs). They are the unsung super heroes behind the scenes.

Success isn’t always measured in dollars and cents, although in this case the dollars were raised, along with our dopamine levels-good moods all around the room. This was another high definition memory to add to my growing list of precious tales to tell. Thank you, DRIF, for your creative, passionate and determined focus to raise money and awareness. The money raised made us all feel as though we were helping Dr. Ricordi and his team of scientists, tangible efforts to continue their work to eradicate Type I diabetes.

Each woman in the room could feel proud because paying it forward is the best kind of fun.