Writing Sample: Serving Up Style

This article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Home Building News.

Serving Up Style was an epiphany Debbie McCabe had several years ago while at an Elle Decor dining competition in New York City. Although she isn’t a designer, she has great admiration for architecture and décor. In fact, her daughter Megan is an architect in California. Her other daughter is Molly, of Molly’s Fund.

Molly was diagnosed with lupus eight years ago when she was only 25 years old. Lupus is a horribly debilitating disease that many people live with in silence, as it is nearly invisible to the eye. People who suffer with lupus have severe pain that often imprisons them in bed alone, leaving their family and children not understanding why this disease has such a traumatic impact on their lives. McCabe wanted to tell her daughter’s story and educate others about Lupus, so she founded Molly’s Fund in 2008.

Serving Up Style transformed the way McCabe was able to tell the story of Molly and lupus. During the 3rd annual Serving Up Style last month, she was astonished with the talented turnout of the twelve participating designers and their respective dining creations. In 2009, they started with just five design teams, grew to ten teams in 2010, and now McCabe is already receiving calls from designers who want to participate in the 2012 show.

As part of the Fall Home and Garden show, Molly’s fund is able to reach over 10,000 people and Serving up Style is just starting to gain followers – designers involved say this is the largest design competition in the Portland area.  Coupled with the design competition is the annual gala – a sit down dinner with silent and live auctions. This year the benefit gala drew in 350 people and raised over $100,000 for Molly’s Fund. “As the word gets out, our numbers increase for the gala,” said McCabe. Melanie Wingo, KATU anchor, is the emcee. “People were so generous this year,” McCabe exclaimed. One auction item, a weeklong vacation to a home in the Florida Keys (with its own lagoon and tennis court) went for $8,000 including airfare for four. Ikea donated its dining room to a raffle that sold $2,500 worth of tickets.

According to McCabe, Serving Up Style has room to grow but it depends on sponsors. Lighting the twelve dining spaces can be expensive, and if it grows in 2012, they are looking at one hefty electric bill.

McCabe expressed her gratitude to the Fall Home and Garden Show and the Home Builders Association. “We couldn’t do it without them. They are an amazing partner. Their contribution and faith in us is so important.”

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