Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:04 PM

Five 4 Five Experience

By Katie Zenovich
Executive Director, Foundation

The FIVE 4 FIVE appreciation dinner was an absolutely fantastic experience – from start to finish.

Donor-investors started with a wine tasting of phenomenal wines as a jazz trio played in the completely re-decorated foyer of Fort Washington Country Club.  The space was perfect for the size of group and set the stage as each step throughout the evening built upon the last.  Laughter and conversation were at a high – so much that I nearly lost my voice at the beginning of the night!  Comments like “this doesn’t even look like the Fort,” “the Cab is unbelievable,” and “it is so cool that Clovis would do something like this” were heard from guests just before Craig Castro addressed the group.

He commented on how much he appreciated the generosity of donor-investors who give to Clovis Community and help make it great.  He also talked about his vision to “transform the patient experience” in the hospital – and linked it to his desire to make this evening a special “experience” for all guests.  Because of a few generous donor-investors, the evening was underwritten and made possible – thus NO dollars from their contributions were spent on it.  The goal was to inspire 40 people to contribute $25,000 to Clovis Community (payable in $5,000 installments over five years – thus the name “Five 4 Five”) and raise $1 million.  Funds will be used to bolster the Clovis Community expansion project and Palliative Care – one of its most valuable programs.  Palliative care addresses the physical symptoms associated with terminal illness along with the psychosocial and spiritual suffering that are invariably present at such a difficult time.

Soon after Craig spoke, the doors opened up and all of our senses were dazzled.  The first and most unexpected thing that overtook people was the exquisite aroma of roses and fresh flowers.  Then we were taking in the most beautifully decorated dining room one has seen.  The space was completely reconfigured – now smaller and circular with a baby grand piano and a glistening crystal chandelier hung over it in the center of the room.  It was an intimate crowd with beautifully decorated tables of eight in a circle around the piano.  Lovely music was permeating from the pianist, as guests could not believe what they saw, smelled and heard.  They made their way to their table where crystal dishes and glasses sparkled.

I greeted the guests as the emcee and reminded them why they were there – and thanked them again for their support of the Medical Center. 

The executive chef  was introduced – who, in his beautiful New Zealand accent, described the mouthwatering and artistic 5-Course meal.  He could have said anything and it would have sounded wonderful, but it was truly amazing.  As each course was delivered to the tables, guests were taking pictures of the dishes and absolutely raving about the look and taste. 

Guillaume Fabre, owner and winemaker was then introduced and, in his thick French accent, he spoke about the FIVE wine parings that he supplied for our dinner. Again, he could have said we were about to drink dirty water and it would have sounded amazing – but the wines were out of this world!

Unlike auction dinners or any other occasion we all have attended in the area, throughout the evening we continued to surprise guests by adding elements that were unique and unexpected.  Names were randomly selected and marvelous “experiences” were given to them.  These, too, were provided by generous donors.  Oohs, awes and applause were now the sounds in our ears.  Then, the next incredible course was presented – a perfectly prepared prime cut filet, nestled on top of Italian black winter truffle whipped potatoes “Roubuchon” topped with vibrant sauce verte, glazed golden beet and accented with a Central Valley fig jus finish.  Wow!  It was so tender; it could be cut with a butter knife.

After a stupefying dessert that included a hand-rolled decadent chocolate almond truffle – topped with 24kt edible gold –The gentlemen were invited to step outside on the lounge-like patio to enjoy each others’ company, perhaps an after dinner drink and a cigar.  The ladies were about to participate in another fun and exciting experience.  Champagne was served and all in the room selected their parting gift from beautifully wrapped boxes that were now stacked on top of the baby grand.  I let them know that one of them had a golden ticket inside that read; “You’re going to Vegas, baby!”  There was tremendous anticipation and excitement from the guests that was palpable.  It was so much fun!

Guests continued to marvel about the entire experience until the very end.  Comments like “I feel like I’m in New York” and “We have never done something like this before” were heard.  They felt appreciated and commented on how pleased they were to be part of the effort to support Clovis Community.  Several asked how they could do more.  Excellent!

It really was an awesome experience.