Monday, September 28, 2009

Carver/SRHT Celebration 2

Mingle, mingle, mingle. I'll tell you the truth, dear readers, I'm not a great mingler. Not with total strangers.
And I knew practically no one in this gathering, affluent crowd. I did notice one thing, it appeared that I was over dressed. 60% of the men attending were not wearing a sports jacket or tie.
Rachel left me to see what Nemeniah was up to. Tianna was up on third floor mingling. I saw her doing it from down below.
I just kept walking around trying not to bump into anyone as the building become crowded. A lady named Shannon, affiliated with SRHT, came up to me and gave me a badge tied to a loop of twine I was to place around my neck. The badge had my name on it, with the title, "SRHT Ambassador," typed underneath. So now I can add to my extensive list of accomplishments the title of Ambassador. Ambassador Joyce. It has a certain ring to it.
At about a quarter to eight, Mike Alvidrez, the Executive Director (I'd rather be an Ambassador) of SRHT, got himself a microphone and initiated the ribbon cutting ceremonies. That done, the guests were invited to come on up the staircase (the top of which is pictured above) and tour the rest of the building. I took a look at a couple of the actual apartments, which reminded me somewhat of the Captain's quarters on a submarine, small, neat, and efficient. A small kitchen was located near the entrance, a bathroom located further down the same wall along an abbreviated hallway, which finally lead into the bed/living room area, which had one window with a view of the outside world.
Back into the circular interior I stood watching the festivities from above, and wondered about that big cement staircase and the open roof, and what it will be like when it rains. I suppose it will be like every open apartment building, but noted that this building was more closed off than most apartment buildings and hoped they will not have a future problem with flooding.
I'm almost sure that this eventuality has been taken into account.
Rachel soon joined me upstairs, like she was looking out for her charges, which was very nice of her, and speaks a great deal about her character. She told me she enjoys working right in the heart of Skid Row. "Seeing all of the homeless people on the street nearby keeps me reminded of all of the problems these people and my clients face," she told me. Very admirable. She also told me of the Knitting Club she facilitates each week, which Nemeniah is an enthusiastic member, and a Writing Class she and Paul (my Paul) directs each Tuesday at four o'clock. I had no idea Paul had been moonlighting. I told her I would be very interested in attending that class (I'll leave the knitting alone for the time being), and that I would force... ask Paul to take me. She said she would be happy to have me come as the class had been declining in attendance recently. She also told me that she had bid on one of the less expensive paintings in the silent auction, hoping her husband didn't find out. I assured her he would not hear of it from me, and I hope all of you, dear readers, will keep a tight reign on this information as well.
So Rachel was married. That's okay, she's a few years too old for me anyhow.
At this point we were directed to the "Celebration Tent," outside of the building, in the rear. I had no idea there was a tent out there, let alone a Celebration Tent. Rachel and I, along with everybody else began to make our way out there.
We were joined by a colleague of Rachel's, Vivian, who I had met during our recent beach outing. The three of us entered a line within the large tent, the end of which we were rewarded with a small plate of food, Asian in character. We each took a chicken on a stick, something that looked like a miniature egg inside of a tiny metal cup (which turned out to be a small shrimp snack... I hope), and some chow mien. We took these prizes to an over large table near the center of the tent, facing the front. We sat on over large benches (I literally had to climb up on it), and enjoyed our small meal. Waiters were still walking around serving all of those tasty appetizers, which I took full advantage of (by the evening's end I was thoroughly stuffed (not in the British way)). Air conditioning was blowing on us from directly above, and where Rachel had been warm inside the Carver, she was now quite chilly. Being the gentleman that I am I offered her my nice warm jacket, which she gratefully accepted.
The proceedings began with about half of the guests still in line waiting to get fed. They would be fairly noisy throughout the ceremony, admonished with a series of "Shuusss's" from time to time. I felt a certain amount of satisfaction that at every strata of economic success within our society, from this type of affair, to our monthly Resident Meetings in the hotels, the food always seems to be of paramount importance.
We soon heard the thunder of drums. Molly had arranged a drum corps of what looked like elementary school children to march through the crowd, finally taking a place on the rostrum. As they reached a crashing crescendo, an unseen announcer called out, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Carver Apartments," at which time the lighting was changed to make the roof of the tent translucent so the Craver could now be seen in all of its architectural splendor, adorned with pulsing strobe lights. Pretty impressive.
The kids left to be replaced by the Chairman of the Board for SRHT, I don't remember his name, who quickly introduced Mike Alvidrez, again, who it turns out has been with the trust for 19 out of the last 20 years. Mike took this opportunity to thank all of the big wig sponsors and investors to the Trust, which included Bank of America, and NBC Universal, and the architect of the Carver, a Michael Maltman.
Now a slide show ensued, which could be seen on different monitors throughout the tent, in which a picture of each of the remaining 21 hotels, and two that are near completion came into view, along with the names of the firms responsible for their design. Amazingly, when a picture of my hotel, the Las Americas was shown, an unexpected round of applause erupted. Apparently my hotel has a lot of fans.
Next, the keynote speaker for the evening was introduced. A resident of the Rainbow since 2005, Tyrone, who had spent 20 years on the streets of Skid Row before getting clean at the Salvation Army's Harbor Light, before being admitted to SRHT. A brief video presentation preceded his speaking, which told of his amazing story. Tyrone, dressed in an orange suit and hat, spoke briefly on the effect SRHT had had on him, giving him his chance at sober, independent living, and the changes his life had taken since. He did an excellent job.
After Tyrone finished, Mike came back on stage for some brief closing remarks, and introduced the closing act, a musical presentation by the Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh.
Throughout the night there had been no celebrity sightings. No Justine Timberlake or Toby McGuire. They must have been busy elsewhere with more important stuff to do. However, Rachel directed my attention to my left, where at another close by table a little blonde girl sat with her back to me, talking to her friends.
"That's one of the Olsen twins," she told me.
"Which one?" I asked.
"Ashley, I think."
I've never watched "Full House," (unlike my lovely case manager, Erin) or seen any film starring Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, but I did happen to know what they looked like, and indeed, at one point she turned my way, and it was Ashley Olsen (or Mary-Kate disguised as Ashley, how can one be sure?!).
As the Watson Twins began to play, Nemeniah snuck up on half of the Olsen Twin francaise, and asked her if she would take a picture with him. She amicably agreed, being used to these types of requests during public gatherings I suppose, and Nemeniah got his picture. Emboldened, some more young female SRHT staff members got Rachel to take their picture. Ashley agreed to this as well (speaking loads of her character too), and stood for a couple of snapshots.
Unfortunately, at this point the Watson's finished their act, and the clowns arrived. They created a huge ruckus, carrying off Ashley and Rachel, who have not been heard from since. You may have seen it mentioned in the papers.
Freaking clowns! They're always doing stuff like that.
Tianna, Tyrone, and I had to hitch a ride home. Not an easy task in this day and age.

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