CHAMPAIGN - The red carpet will roll out for well-heeled donors at a black-tie benefit for Matthew House at the Champaign Country Club next month.
?A Celebration of the Arts,? scheduled for 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 9, will raise money for arts scholarships for at-risk youths at the nonprofit agency at 404 E. Park St., C.
The event will showcase culinary, performing and fine arts, with entertainment by University of Illinois theater and dance students, jewelry and artwork designed by UI and local artists and a menu prepared by country club chef Doug Richter.
The benefit was conceived by Matthew House founder Tamara Cibis. She wanted to set up a scholarship fund for children in middle school or high school who are gifted in the arts but can't afford instruments or lessons.
?We've seen so many kids lives' change when they find out they can dance or they can play music,? Cibis said. ?But if you don't have the money, you can't even try it.?
The benefit should raise about $10,000, said Cibis, who hopes to make it an annual event.
There will be no guest speaker or auction, but tickets are $125 a pop, or $1,000 for a table of eight. Seating will be limited to 15 tables, to keep the atmosphere ?intimate,? said Sara Seed, promoter for the event.
Like other charities, Matthew House has seen donations drop off of late. But tickets for the benefit are selling briskly, Cibis said.
?Everything is top of the line for this. We've pulled no punches,? Seed said.
Photographers and a red carpet will welcome guests out front. The menu will feature wine from a new California vintner, imported coffees, crab cakes, roasted rack of lamb, grilled portabella mushrooms and fresh berry trifle.
For the entertainment, Cibis decided to use local young artists and performers who don't often get a chance to show off their work, beyond student art competitions. Two Matthew House children will also take part in the dances, and the final segment of the show will feature the agency's ?Praise? dancers, who will do an interpretive prayer.
UI junior and metals artist Tammy Storoe, 23, said students are happy for the chance to showcase their work. She will bring a scarf crafted out of wool, silver and fishing twine.
?It sounds like it's going to be fun,? she said.
The country club donated space for the event and agreed to a ?minimum price for a very elegant dinner,? Cibis said. ?They couldn't be any nicer to us.?
The honorary chairman for the event is former University of Illinois basketball star Doug Altenberger.
Altenberger was a four-year letter winner on Illini teams of the mid-1980s, including the 1984 Big Ten champions. He was named All Big Ten in 1984, 1985 and 1987 and was team MVP and co-captain in 1985.
After graduating in 1987 with a degree in business and a brief stint with the Chicago Bulls, Altenberger began a career in the banking industry. He is now president of Stonegate Development Corp. in Hoffman Estates and a basketball analyst for ESPN Plus.
Matthew House was founded 20 years ago by Cibis, a Holocaust survivor, as a safe haven for children suffering from injustice and racism. The agency received a ?Presidential Point of Light? award and was named one of the 150 Most Compassionate and Effective Human Service Initiatives in the United States.
For tickets or other information, contact Sara Seed Promotions, 403-9999.
Julie Wurth can be reached at 351-5226 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.