Charleston’s Newest Fundraising Luncheon – Setting the Bar, Designed “Charleston Style!”

“It costs a lot to be us. We all have to give.” said my friend Mary Loretto Ramsay, who I have always called the Brooke Astor of Charleston.  My reasoning was not because she, like Astor, wrote large checks to non-profits, but because of her spirit of philanthropy and understanding that we all have to give.  Like Astor, Mrs. Ramsay was never without lipstick, jewels, always dressed, perfectly coiffed hair, lost the love of her life at a young age and loved to go to a party.  Like Astor, she believed in giving back,  lived it and taught it by example and through lessons.  She would tell me often that one can pick up litter on the street, volunteer, introduce people with common likes to non-profits, host a coffee, tea, or martinis, give your house for a tour, donate a product to a fundraiser or just buy a ticket to support a cause.

Charleston survived the Civil War and sat in poverty during a time that the artists call the Charleston Renaissance.  This was a  time in our city’s history when time stood still – piazzas fell of of homes, carriage houses caved in, and gentile poverty became a common work.  However,  the people stayed together, both black and white.

World War II brought some relief with the expansion of the Charleston Naval Base drawing thousands of civil workers here to build ships.  This supplied Charleston with a solid middle class, unaffected by recessions, until the closure in 1990.

Today, Charleston has an amazing philanthropic community and Mrs. Ramsay saw this new influx of people “from off” and capitalized on it.   She chose to include the new people and looked to them for the ideas they brought from their previous lives. This opened their hearts and pocket books as they all understood that you had to give to be a part of this community.  If you chose not to, you stay in Charleston was brief!   Much of what we have in the way of culture today is due to Ramsay and her ability to network people with people and the precedents she helped to establish here. I even coined the phrase “Doing the Mary Ramsay”, which meant you were to attend at least three events in one evening.  She never liked to miss a party.

As a longtime member of the Spoleto Festival USA Board of Directors, Mrs. Ramsay supported and promoted the festival throughout the year to anyone and everyone.  Gone now three years, the Spoleto Festival chose to honor she and her family by naming their new annual luncheon after her;  The Mary Ramsay Civic Award Luncheon.  This April, the event honored John and Norma Palms.

Though this was not an official JMC Charleston event as I was on the planning committee, I did design all elements of decor, entertainment, and had these wonderful scrims produced for the stage, as well as providing the entertainment.  The committee designed a wonderful invitation and the menu, now the most expensive fundraising luncheon in Charleston at 200.00 per person, sold out in moments. Spoleto, Mary Ramsay and the Palms all have such a great following and the 200 in attendance were an amazing cross section of the community.

JMC Charleston loves using our event production and design team to supplement an event like this.  We take great pride in doing it the way that it should be done.  After all, we are the number on city in the World (Thanks Conde Nast!)

Knowing Mary loved a pretty garden, we designed this party in her honor – “Hats and Flats” was the attire. She would have loved it!


For addition photos of this event, please visit the parties for non-profits area of our website, –

We will also like to mention that we recently changed the design of our web thanks to the ad agencies. We can’t tell you enough about the importance of having a great web design company helping you out. Any business that wishes to be competitive in the online or offline market must have a professional website. Internet has become the leading resource for people to find information, with business research being a leading reason to perform a search on the web.

Businesses that do not have a professionally created website risk losing potential customers on the Internet and in their storefronts. Consumers are evaluating products and companies long before they decide to make a purchase, and if your website does not seem professional or secure, they will simply move on to the next vendor.

For additional information about the Spoleto Festival USA, please visit







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