Sipping tea for a cause
An elegant pastime, there is perhaps no better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than to get dolled up in your finest, sip tea, nibble on scones, fruits and sandwiches while listening to skilled violinists and watching a parade of hats, fashion and faces – all for a worthwhile cause.
The goal of the Bahamas Sickle Cell Association’s 2nd annual tea party is not only to bring awareness and raise funds for the organization, but perhaps more importantly, to highlight the people most impacted by their work – persons like tenth grader Kia Archer, the only known person in The Bahamas with the S O-Arab sickle cell disease; Yale Rutherford who at 23, has already undergone a bilateral double hip replacement and Jovanna Evans, whose two children, Jadyne and Reign, are affected by the inherited blood disorder.
“An event such as this is crucial to getting the conversation going, promoting an understanding of the disease and showcasing a variety of persons impacted by it,” said BSCA’s President Kayla Smith-Mortimer, who served as the mistress of ceremony for the fashion show put on by the association’s warriors, persons afflicted with the disease which impacts the oxygen-carrying protein haemoglobin found in red blood cells, leading to periodic episodes of pain called crises.
Parties are even better when you have a cause, according to Lady Sonya Longley, immediate past president. She got the ball rolling last year, planning and organizing the association’s largest fundraiser, which relies on a mix of private and corporate sponsorship to defray costs and contribute raffle prizes to the event, which drew 160 persons to St. Paul The Apostle Catholic Church, near Lyford Cay.
“It takes a lot of team work to pull this off. It also takes interested persons who want to ensure the association itself benefits. If you don’t have an interest, you won’t do your best. Our attendees are people interesting in pushing the organization forward,” she said.
Entertainment included musical interludes provided by String City Violinists, the Faces of Sickle Cell Fashion Show, where attendees learned more about the individuals behind the diagnosis, and a lively hat and fascinator parade directed by MC Mavis Collie for guests who showed up to show out.
The event had something for everyone. Raffle prizes ranged from $100 gas vouchers to a weekend stay for two at Comfort Suites. Meanwhile, pop up shops featured merchandise from Cia Monet’s organic candles, soaps and scents, to eye-catching jewelry by Jacquelyn Sawyer and Chic Floral Design’s ravishing hats for browsers and buyers.
The association’s current executive team made presentations to past presidents Lady Longley and Dr. Nisha Armbrister, marking their period of service to the association.
Wrapping up the two-hour event, ladies who participated in the table setting competition under the theme, “Our Bahama Islands”, waited with bated breath for judges to announce which contestant had the perfect balance of creativity and meticulousness, combined with a kaleidoscope of tasteful colors.
The winner was the tropical yet elegant “Eleuthera”, as depicted by Alexia Roach. She heard about tea party from a family friend.
“I was excited to see there was an event for sickle cell,” she said. “The tea party placed the disease on my radar. My family is affected directly by cancer. When you’re not directly impacted by something it’s hard to keep it on your radar, but events like this help to remind you that there are other people who are suffering with health issues.”