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Night to Unite

United Way of the Mid-South

Story by Gaye Swan  | Photos by Don Perry

A sold-out crowd enjoyed the colorful and festive Night to Unite, celebrating the 95th anniversary of United Way of the Mid-South. In the heart of downtown Memphis, The Columns was aglow with bright colors and orchids, complemented by the fun touch of flashing sparkling sunglasses and rings – which many guests promptly donned and wore throughout the evening. A lavish spread of heavy hors d’oeuvres from Caesar’s Entertainment featured lobster mac and cheese, pimento crostini with candied bacon, mini seared crab cakes, spiced pork tenderloin, and fruits and cheeses. The mouth-watering dessert shooters, tropical fruit tarts, and petit fours had guests coming back for more. 

Over in the VIP Lounge, Chef Kelly English delighted tastebuds with delicacies and signature drinks from Iris Etc. Catering. A special treat was his Shakshuka Shrimp and Grits, a Southern take on a North African dish. Open bar stations poured wine, beer, and popular tropical themed cocktails such as Blue Hawaiian and Passion Fruit. Live artist Jamond Bullock worked in acrylic on canvas to create a special mural, while an installation from Memphis College of Art explored an “Interpretation of Poverty.” 

The highlight of the evening was the musical lineup, curated by Boo Mitchell, owner of Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios. Guests danced to the amazing sounds of DJ Al Kapone, DJ Oona Mitchell, Carla Thomas, Vaneese Thomas, Marcus King of the Marcus King Band, Hi Rhythm Section, and The Bar-Kays. Katrina Rankin co-hosted and emceed the event, joined by Rev. Kenneth S. Robinson M.D., President and CEO, United Way of the Mid-South. 

“Since 1923, United Way of the Mid-South has been committed to improving the quality of life for Mid-Southerners by mobilizing and aligning community resources to address priority issues. United Way began with the vision to support local agencies, and the first year we raised $450,000 for 20 agencies,” said Dr. Robinson. “To date, United Way of the Mid-South has raised over $800 million and granted millions of dollars to Mid-South agencies. This event helps us further that mission by raising money to support our Community Impact Fund, which allows us to pool the resources of this community to attack local challenges—like poverty—at its roots. It puts your dollars to work where they can do the most good.” 

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