In mythical Xanadu-like style, the Summer Solstice fundraiser for Hopewell rises once a year – seemingly out of the mist and a newly mown field – on the property of Brian and Gretchen Colleran in Hunting Valley.
The setting includes a couple of well-kept outbuildings with a breezeway, a former stable serving as a unique man cave, plus an enormous, beautifully proportioned tent. Add to the setting skilled servers passing cocktails and noshes to about 500 attendees who were dressed in summer finery – ladies in flirty summer dresses and men in tailored shirt and coats in every pastel hue.
This well-dressed crowd enjoyed a silent auction during the cocktail hour with perhaps a unique slate of items, many from private collections, including vintage jewelry, clothing, decorative works as well as antique furniture. After dinner the live auction included a farm-to-table dinner event, a private “Tour of the Universe” – the Shafran and Mueller Observatory, and a truly rare opportunity for six people to spend a week at a centuries-old, fully restored Italian farmhouse in Tuscany.
Dinner by Nosh Creative Catering in the spacious tent was an imaginative menu with great attention to detail. The salad combined citrus, local greens and a sugared whole mint leaf. A beef tender was prepared en sous vide and finished on the grill. A cashew miso risotto was the vegan option, and all finished with a dark chocolate and olive oil cake finished with berries and thyme.
After dinner Executive Director Jim Bennett introduced the crowd to Evan Curtain’s moving story of overcoming depression and homelessness to live a stable adult life as a husband and musician. After entering more than 20 mental health facilities, Evan’s experience with Hopewell is what turned his life around.
Hopewell is one of five therapeutic farm communities in the U.S. Its holistic mental health care is a combination of nature, work groups, therapy and clinical engagement. Up to 30 residents 18 and older live at the farm, usually for six to nine months before leading an independent life. Hopewell aimed to raise $320,000 at this annual event for general operating support of the residents. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER