The Vintage Advantage
Congratulations are in order as our local American Cancer Society (ACS) prepares for its 25th annual Vintage Affair Gala just around the corner. With more than 400 attendees (including local and regional executives, physicians, business professionals, and other influential members of the community), this gala is not one to miss.
But fun and networking opportunities aside, the main focus is informing the public about ACS’s services. “We often hear many people don’t know about all of the support we offer until they need it,” says Kathy O’Neill, Director of Community Development at ACS. “We have seen our communities unite at events and celebrate survivorship and remember loved ones, all while working toward a world free from the pain and suffering caused by cancer. Our hope is to spread awareness of all that ACS does so the next person who hears ‘You have cancer’ will know where to turn. We are here.”
So, what does that fight actually look like? “Nearly everyone in every community has been touched by cancer,” says Robin Johns, ACS Community Development Manager. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate, and people often state they feel they’re being hit from all sides. We attack cancer from every angle, from groundbreaking research to free programs and services and more,” Robin explains. For example, Robin says patients cite transportation to and from medical treatments as a critical need and one of the most significant barriers to completing treatment. “We work with community partners to develop transportation solutions like our ‘Road To Recovery,’ a curbside-to-curbside service in which trained volunteer drivers donate time to get patients to treatment.” Additionally, patients and caregivers often have to travel far from home to receive treatment. “ACS also offers free or low-cost lodging through the Hope Lodge and Hotel Partners Program,” Robin says.
ACS also provides direction through information, answers, and hope every minute of every day. Patients and caregivers can receive personal guidance through the healthcare system, including help with insurance problems, referrals to local services, and more. Individuals can chat online or speak with a cancer information specialist to receive answers to and support for their questions and concerns.
As for the 25th year, “It’s amazing,” says Kimi Oaks, Board of Directors member and longtime Vintage Affair Gala volunteer. “One of the founders of the event was Dr. Barry Brown. I doubt he realized he was setting in motion an event that would be so vibrant after all these years. We are fortunate to have had wonderful staff and volunteer leadership that has brought innovative ideas to keep the event fresh and fun, while raising over $3 million for the fight against cancer,” she says. “I would also like to give a tremendous thank you to our event chairs this year, Chambliss Brister and Jennifer Roberds, for their hard work and dedication in making this
event a success. Also a thank you to Mr. Herbert
Meisler and Mr. and Mrs. Ben Meisler for being so gracious in being the sponsor for the Grand Patrons’ Dinner held each year prior to the Gala.”And a thank you to Lexus of Mobile as the longtime presenting sponsor of the Vintage Affair Gala,” Kimi says. “Having been on the committee for all 25 years, it’s also exciting to see what new tasting wines are offered, as they’re donated by local wine aficionados from their private cellars, typically not available for purchase locally. This is a unique opportunity to add special wines to your own collection! Plus, area artists generously donate works of art for our auction,” she adds. This year’s featured artist is Margi McCall, with live entertainment by Cooper Trent and the Court of Trent. Fine cuisine will be catered by Clifton Morrissette, and wines from Red or White Wine & Gourmet Bar will round out the celebration.
“Local sponsorships and support are vital to the success of nonprofit fundraising,” Kimi shares. “Lexus of Mobile has been a valued partner of the gala since the beginning, and Craig Mathews (their general manager) and his team share our devotion to the cause. He and his family have been touched by cancer, as we all have, and the Board of Directors is most grateful for their sustained and enthusiastic support,” Kimi says, adding, “Personally, I love my Lexus!”
For both Craig and Tal Vickers, dealer principal, “We have long operated under the philosophy that we have to be ingrained in the community. To do that we have to invest in worthwhile projects and charities,” Tal shares. “Since 1996, we have been the one and only title sponsor for the Vintage Affair Gala,” Craig adds. “We have all been touched by cancer, and when Dr. Brown approached us, we jumped on board. Together we have grown this event into a major celebration and fundraiser for ACS.”
Tal and Craig’s commitment to this community has proven wise. “We are 16-time ‘Elite of Lexus’ award winners,” Tal shares, explaining that the award is given to the top Lexus dealers who excel in customer service, sales, and employee engagement. “We are proud of the relationships we have built in our community and with our employees and customers. We have seen so many children of both grow up and become employees and customers themselves,” Tal adds.
And it doesn’t stop with ACS. Mobile Symphony, Feeding the Gulf Coast, Our Sisters Closet, countless golf tournaments – the partnership list goes on. “Since its inception, Lexus has always encouraged a culture of family. We have long embraced and nurtured the mission statement of treating the customer like a guest in our home, making us more than a dealership; we are one big family, and supporting our community is like supporting our family,” Craig shares.
According to longtime employee Saline Kirkland, who has been with Lexus for 25 years, “I spend more time here than I do at home, and there’s no place I’d rather be. Craig has been a mentor and always available to him for guidance,” she says. “Also, as a service consultant, our customers are like family as well. I had a pretty serious accident and our customers even called me at home to check on me,” she tells us.
Prince Dailey (aka “Pop”), another lifelong employee, says he has been with Lexus of Mobile for 40 years. Starting at just 16 sweeping the floors, he credits the family atmosphere for where he is today. “As a certified Lexus technician, they recognized I had natural talent, and Tal and Craig trained me,” Pop says. “They are like fathers to me. Now my son Isiah works here as well.”
With Lexus of Mobile and ACS working together to create a solid front line fighting cancer right here at home, this is a cause for celebration. The very word, “cancer,” is daunting, and while this heart-wrenching disease may not have touched your life yet, we hope you will join us in this celebration of life.
Vintage Affair Gala
September 29, 2019
911 Dauphin Street, Mobile
VintageAffairMobile.org for tickets