Monday, November 25, 2013

RHONJ Stars Aligned for Dina Manzo's Project Ladybug Goddess Night Out

Dina Manzo, Project Ladybug Founder   Photos by Suzanne Curry
A Starry Night in NJ                            By Suzee

I had not been to one of Dina Manzo’s Project Ladybugs fundraisers yet, but there were five of them before this year’s. I have a feeling they got better with age as this year’s fundraiser was fantastic.

Held at the luxurious Venetian in Garfield (which used to be the old Cameo), the graceful European architecture and sweepingly grand high ceilings sets the stage for a truly mystical and magical Goddess Night Out.

Teresa was as sparkling as her Fabellini

It was billed that Dina was the host and the Teresa Giudice would also be there, as she was listed as a part of the organization. It was also publicized that Kathy Wakile would be there. I had not seen any mention that  Melissa Gorga was also going to be there so it was a nice surprise to see her there as well. Four housewives in one place with no fighting going on. :-)

Dina was dressed in her goddess best, an electric blue gown with a jeweled wreath in her hair, which was full of long curls. Theresa was stunning as usual. I don't think I've ever gotten a bad picture of her. She wore a silver, shimmery, figure-fitting gown which was like flowing tinsel and also wore a wreath on her head with her hair down for the event. Kathy Wakile went the traditional route of the goddess with a white, toga-like gown on with a simple belt. Melissa Gorga gave life to a perfect little black dress.

After you went in  the entrance there was long hallway lead you to the grand ballroom  illuminated by magnificent chandeliers. Right before the ballroom was the Step and Repeat area, which was accessible to everyone. Off to
Kathy had the Roman Goddess thing going on
the right of the room was what I will call the “basket” room, for lack of a better term. The over a hundred baskets were elegantly placed on tables in the center of the room.  Along the walls on both sides were vendors selling all kinds of wares that appealed to the Goddess in all of us, like blingy clothing and jewelry. There were two or three cupcakes vendors giving out cupcakes but it must not have been a cupcake-eating crowd  (it was a definite Spanx night)  and the other food was so good because there was a lot left over at the end of the night. For the more practical Goddess there was a wellness area where people could receive complimentary services. It was pretty busy.

Melissa Gorga speaks to's Heather Zwain
Teresa had a special table in the Grand Ballroom and was signing copies of her book amidst a backdrop of a Fabellini poster. There was always a line there because Theresa chatted and took a photo with anyone that asked.

As with all fundraisers, there was an introduction and thank you presentations. Dina Manzo took the mike and called the attention of the audience. She started out by thanking everyone who helped her - friends, family, volunteers and the other housewives, at which point in time they joined her in a line to her left. (See my other post for the video). She also thanked the staff of the Venetian for their hard work, and then with a smile said, "Yes, this was not held at the Brownstone, but it was just because they didn't have the right date available - don't read anything into that!" She also had her friend do a meditation, which was unusual for a fundraiser but nonetheless interesting.

Dina spoke passionately about her charity
Dina talked about all of the wonderful work Project Ladybug had done for the sick children of St. Joseph’s Hospital in PatersonNJ and its oncology wing. She also talked about a new branch of Project Ladybug which was active at Sloan Kettering in NYC, Julien's Project. To illustrate this point she gave the mike to Jacqueline Collot, who talked about her son Julien who was a patient there and who unsuccessfully fought adult leukemia. I use the word unsuccessfully because the treatments did not work. I do not remember everything from the short video but what I came away with was the strength and the wisdom this little boy had - far beyond his years- and how he fought this with all of the courage and strength he could muster but the treatments just were not good enough to match the extraordinary healing powers of his own soul and will. There was not a dry eye in the house.

If the boy was the spark in the room at the time the new spark became the hope that Project Ladybug offered. The mother went on to say that because of the money from Project Ladybug that the lives of 4 children were saved in clinical trials.

Dina also thanked medium John Edwards for his help. Though he could not attend he sent a huge basket and his family in his place.

Theresa chats with the guests
Dina then asked people to purchase Teddy Bears for $100. Each teddy bear would pay for a pizza party. I have been to other fundraisers where parties are sold for the kids and it is always a wonderful option to know that your money will put a smile on the face of many sick children.

Melissa always stopped to talk
What I also would like to say about this event is that the housewives were always accessible to the attendees. All of the housewives walked around, mingled with the crowd and stopped to talk to people or take a photo with them whenever asked. There were no overbearing bodyguards or areas not within access. I can definitely say that the RHONJ met their fair share of real “housewives” from NJ that night.

Housewives Teresa and Dina havin' fun- a sign for the next season?
They also danced on the dance floor with everyone else. The DJ’s played Melissa Gorga’s “On Display” and it was a treat to see her dancing to it (see video in other post).

They also got up at sat at other people’s tables. Teresa sat down the table I was at as there were her friends there (as well as my neighbor Gina Avino, who decorates for Teeresa) and she encouraged everyone to grab a fork and to try some of her Fabulicious desserts which were put on the tables. I have never met a dessert I didn’t like (except anything coffee –flavored), but I did like her tiramasu as the coffee flavor was light and 
Teresa's friends came to support Project Ladybug. Pictured: 
Bojee Lisanti, Alicia DelGuercio Pinto, Lisa Fortunato, 
Teresa Guidice, Gina Avino, Lisa Giammarino, 
Roseann Giammarino.
and refreshing. I also liked the cheesecake; it was compact, sweet with a slight nutty flavor. She also has cookies out but I did not get to try those.

The only thing I would comment on is that for $10, which is no biggie, one only got one ticket. I know that this is not uncommon, but I tend to buy more when I get more tickets for the money.

Project Ladybug is a great and growing organization. Dina said she is always looking for volunteers. Events always need help and even if you have never worked on a fundraiser that doesn't matter, you'll learn. Also donations are always appreciated. For more information, visit

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