"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.
|Kelley Proxmire, in the room she designed for the 2002 Designers Showcase.|
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
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