Amidst the rolling, breathtaking lawn overlooking Narragansett Bay, Blithewold Mansion and Gardens celebrated the return of its Gala on August 6 after a multi-year absence. The bi-annual event and vital fundraiser attracted nearly 300 guests who came out to support the historic landmark, raising more than $150,000 during a spectacular evening. It was the first time the organization held its gala since 2018 due to the pandemic.
Held outdoors on the Great Lawn beneath a sprawling tent with the mansion as a backdrop in full sparkle, the elegant evening began with a special cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception before guests made their way under a beautifully illuminated tent for dinner and the night’s program. The evening’s program also included a live and silent auction hosted by Mario Hilario of WJAR NBC-10.
The beautiful summer evening was punctuated by a special fund-a-need appeal that generated $87,000 to support Blithewold’s “Water’s Edge” project to mitigate the risk of sea level rise at the property’s vast coastline. Dozens of guests raised their bid numbers in support of the project, pledging gifts that ranged from $100 to $10,000. Researched and designed by a Roger Williams University professor who specializes in historic preservation, the “Water’s Edge” project aims to transform and protect the mansion’s coastline. If no action is taken, Blithewold could lose more than two acres of its shoreline to being underwater within the next 50 years.
The gala also served to honor longtime volunteer, Noreen Ackerman, who has devoted decades to serving Rhode Island’s nonprofit community. With Blithewold, she has spent more than 15 years supporting the expansion and preservation of the mansion, serving on, and leading its Board of Directors, and co-chairing the 2012, 2014, and 2016 galas.
“I don’t think we could have asked for anything more – it was an incredible night that saw Blithewold’s friends and donors eager to not only support a local treasure, but also have a lot of fun after such a hiatus,” said Karen Binder, Blithewold’s executive director. “We cannot thank everyone enough for coming out and for helping to support Blithewold’s resilience for the future.”
The night ended with guests dancing to the sounds of Decades by Dezyne.