Roxbury Faith Restored Through Fashion
During hard times blessings come in many forms and beloved Boston designer David Josef gives his heart to others finding hope through “Faith in Fashion”. The charity event took to the runway recently for its second annual show with returning co-hosts Marjorie Clappord, Chris Spinazzola and Daniel James Forrester. The 2018 edition was held at the Newton American Legion Post with proceeds going to the “The Cory Johnson Program".
The evening began with light refreshments and brimming inspirational music from the Roxbury Presbyterian Church Choir accompanied by Willie Archibald, Issa Bibbins and their Jazz tailored band. Their fun and uplifting vibe set the tone for celebrity signer Linda Gaines sister of Donna Summers whose soulful voice was a perfect preview for who was next on stage. Deb Johnson mother of Cory Johnson strongly sat and stole hearts with her touching story of how she lost her son and the strength Roxbury Presbyterian provided. Following, Reverend Liz Walker graced the guests with the beauty of her spiritual sermon. The room became lighter as she preached on love and how “this is a time for healing”.
With all in a trance of tenderness and warmth it was time to let the bidding begin. Broadway’s Mary Callannan opened the live auction and brought the entertainment with her vibrant personality. Items donated that were up for grabs ranged from a portrait painted of the Roxbury community featuring Rev Walker from Michael Guarino Fine Arts or a full suit from men’s designer Allan Rouleau. Contributions also came from; St. John Kitts, MS Walker & The Smoke Shop, Nik Walker "Hamilton", Janine Mammano, Teatro Restaurant and Karen Ward Holmes WCVB-TV.
After all bidding wars were over it was onto the fashion! Opening was the man of the evening, David Josef showing his latest collection. Always with his glamorous touch looks of chic pant suits with beaded florals, form fitting velvet, sexy jumpers with sleek cuts, off the shoulder shine all began to flood the runway. Following was BlancoMaj was a flirty line of fall jackets. Then the men hit the stage wearing styles from Lord & Taylor. Nouveau Fashion Gallery made an appearance with an all-black line-up featuring dresses from deep desirable cuts to modern business like looks. Marie Galvin brought stunning styles and a showstopper in a jacket with a peacock design and teal trim. Closing the fashion portion was Boston beauty Denise Hajjar. She pulled glimpses from her boutique of denim full length coats, fun and flowing dresses, multidimensional wraps, bold reds, feathers and fur.
This wasn’t your average fashion show of the dark or trendy music as the live church band continued on and revved up the runway with vocals and a jazz band funk feel. Celebrity models donated their flawless strut such as; Olga Konstanzia, Lucille Murray, Hollis Colby, Sonia Garufi, Jacquie Williams, Munjeet Geyer, Jane Conway, Christy Cashman & Susan Solomont and the one who gives us all Faith in Fashion, Yolanda Cellucci. Mixed in were those that represent the community as church models; Sherrice Grogan, Jana Mills, Kim Houston, Robin Lee, Mekah Mcintosh, Marcia Bibbins, Jamaya Mill, Shondell Davis, Gloria White Hammond, Louise Johnson, Marcia Fearon, Edward Lewis, Michael Austin, Douglas Lomax, Devon Thompson, Andre Donegan and Eugene Huffman. Bringing all the ladies to their luscious looks were; Rebecca Alvarado B'GlamBoston, Stephanie Kim, Beckah Mua, Jessica Villegas-Montiero providing hair and make-up.
Scene&Style was able to chat with Founder David Josef post show who expressed, “The night was the definition of love. Everything you said on that stage was from the heart. Whether it be the amazing choirs, Donna summers sister singing her music, to the incredible church ladies who were modeling, to the professional girls who donated their time. Every designer contributed their clothes because they believe in the cause. We all believe it’s the time for healing, I can’t thank everyone enough for being there.” The evening was another charitable success for Josef raising around $200,000 for The Cory Johnson Program and benefiting Roxbury Presbyterian Church.
The Cory Johnson Program for post traumatic healing is a community-based approach to addressing the epidemic of PTSD in urban neighborhoods, fostering connection and empowering individuals to take an active role in helping themselves and others heal. All programming is free and takes place at 328 Warren Street, Roxbury. "CAN WE TALK?" is a Community Conversation on Trauma, 6 PM the final Thursday of every month. It is a safe, supportive space in which to share your story, or listen to others. The evening begins with dinner at 6 pm, then Rev. Liz Walker opens the time for sharing. Free childcare provided. If you are interested email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit https://rpcsocialimpactctr.org/the-cory-johnson-program-for-post-traumatic-healing/ .
Nestled on one of the main veins in the community, Roxbury Presbyterian Church has stood on the corner of Warren and Woodbine Streets since 1865. At the beginning of the 1800’s Roxbury was home almost exclusively to upper and middle-class Yankees. Beginning in the 1840’s many Irish immigrants flooding to the Massachusetts to escape the potato famine. As immigration continued some Irish families settled directly in Roxbury, or second generations families moved from Boston to Mission Hill and later in the Dudley Street area.
Though their community is typically labeled as violent and marginalized, Roxbury is a vibrant, diverse and eclectic group of people with tremendous assets and rich history. Though their challenges of violence and trauma are real, Roxbury Presbyterian Church stands to be a beacon of light and hope in response to the changing needs of their community that they are so proud to call home.