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"I Always Think Big"
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From the very beginning to the very end, prayer played a major part in this group effort. "Everyone in the Washington section was praying for the success of the showcase."

Kelley Proxmire
Kelley Proxmire, in the room she designed for the 2002 Designers Showcase.
"I always think big," said Kelley Proxmire, organizer of the 2002 Home Designers´ Showcase to benefit the Center for Family Development, a Regnum Christi apostolate in Bethesda, Maryland. "But when I looked back on my notes from a year ago, I originally expected to get 10-12 designers and about 500 people to attend the show." She thought that was "big". However, after a year of prayer and preparation, the showcase featured 23 designers and had over 3,000 people attend. It was a tremendous success.

The showcase ran from May 13 to May 26. For those two weeks, Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center was transformed into a designer´s paradise. Twenty-four identical rooms were painted, papered and carpeted by some of the Washington area´s best-known designers. Retreat rooms that formerly held only a single bed and a desk became sitting rooms, libraries, dens, dorm rooms, garden rooms, media rooms and children´s rooms. Admission was $20 and people from all over DC, Maryland and Virginia flocked to see the transformation of the small rooms. One volunteer offered that what happened to the rooms at the Retreat Center is like what happens to your soul when you go on a retreat there. You arrive all drab and featureless and you leave completely transformed by the very best designer, Christ.

So how did she do it? How did she pull off the biggest Regnum Christi fund-raising event ever in the Washington section? "It really was a miracle the way it all came together," said Proxmire, a long-time Regnum Christi member. She recalled that she had been trying to think of a way to bring her professional contacts in the decorating business into a fund-raising event. For the past three years, she has organized the major fund-raising event for the Center for Family Development, which supports families in the Washington area with marriage preparation courses, marriage enrichment retreats, leadership training for teens and pre-teens, and family counseling. She saw the 8-foot by 9-foot rooms of Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center as the way to get her designers involved and to raise money for the Center.

"I had the idea and then I prayed about it, asking God to lead me in the right direction," she said. It would be quite a courageous undertaking, requiring thousands of volunteer hours of work. She then called a designer friend, who had participated in 7 showcases, for advice. He told her to "go for it!" Next, God placed the editor of a national decorator´s magazine in her path, who advised her to have at least 2 dozen rooms and run the showcase for two weeks. This was very valuable advice. She continued to pray about whether to go forward with it. Then something incredible happened. Out of the blue, she was invited to compete for a room in the 2001 National Symphony Orchestra Showcase. She had never participated in one before. She felt she knew now where God was leading her. She won the coveted spot and thus had the opportunity to see how a showcase works from "behind the scenes." She also met a lot of designers, whom she tapped for the retreat center showcase a year later.

From the very beginning to the very end, prayer played a major part in this group effort. "Everyone in the Washington section was praying for the success of the showcase," said Proxmire. She knew it would take more than just human brains and brawn. Challenges and setbacks were placed in God´s hands. One Regnum Christi member even wrote a special prayer for the success of the showcase.

And what a success it was, not just financially. There were many fruits prayed for and received. The enthusiastic coverage by the Washington area press had to be a fruit of prayer. Many articles, especially a feature in the Washington Post, shed light in a positive way on the Center for Family Development and the Retreat Center. Now the community is more aware of its presence, and hopefully more people will take advantage of the great programs for families and couples there.

Planning has begun for the 2003 Designers´ Showcase. Another fruit of prayer is the fact that most of the designers have already offered to participate in next year´s showcase. One designer said it was the most pleasant experience she´s ever had at a showcase. She raved about how kind and helpful the staff at the retreat center was and how the designers were all in the same boat with the small rooms and so they were not as competitive with each other and helped each other out as well.

To anyone planning his or her own Designers´ Showcase fund-raiser, Kelley Proxmire offers some advice. "You need three things to make it successful," she said. One, the house should be in a good location and have beautiful grounds. The retreat center could draw from Washington, Baltimore, Annapolis and their suburbs quite easily being so close to the capital beltway. Two, you need great designers to participate and transform your rooms. And three, you need at least 150 committed volunteers to draw from. The volunteers were all Regnum Christi members and their friends. If you have all three, you´ll have a great showcase.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2002-08-06


 
 

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