Chairs can raise thousands of dollars to buy other chairs, or at least help keep the lights on at the warehouse where the chairs are kept. At the Second Annual Chair Affair, held at the elegant Charles Luck Studio in Manakin-Sabot on Nov. 14, 2009, ordinary chairs redesigned by local artists raised more than $13,000 (nearly doubling last year's amount) to benefit the CARITAS Furniture Bank.
WWBT NBC 12's Aaron Gilchrist was honorary host, and after a silent auction, the main attraction began. Prior to the event, in coordination with Virginia Commonwealth University, artists from around Richmond picked up donated chairs from the CARITAS Furniture Bank warehouse and transformed them. Some chairs were strictly fashionable, like Madalyn Hopkins' bold black-and-white print upholstery against a bright-red frame, while others were redefined as sculpture, like Tracey St. Peter's Storytelling Chair, with a white snake twining around its black frame. Those in between, like Kyle Lucia's wooden filing-cabinet chair (with working drawer), slipped somewhere beyond categories.
With hors d'oeuvres in hand from Groovin' Gourmets, attendees could admire the artists' work displayed on long wooden tables down the length of the studio and decide before the live auction started which chair was worth a bidding war.
Williams & Sherrill, together with Dover Interiors, designed the chair that received the highest bid and sold for $900.
Although most of the chairs probably won't have anyone sitting on them anytime soon, the cause they fund will provide often overlooked necessities to those who need them most. The CARITAS Furniture Bank's mission is simple: provide furniture and other household items to people moving out of shelters and crisis centers and into their own homes. This fundraiser, along with the annual City Wide Furniture Drive, enables CARITAS, or Congregations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter, to assist more than 300 Richmond families each year.
Karen O'Brien, the CARITAS Furniture Bank's director of operations, says, "We work with such great people who really want and need to get ahead. … I come from the corporate world, and for me, putting the heart and head together and finding the two can work is so exciting — and is what our organization is really all about."