Fundraising for foster children
Jen Alewine had no way of knowing the fundraiser that brought 200 people to her Tuxedo Road home on Feb. 25 would become “the final party” before the pandemic hit. “If everyone had known it would be the last party for eight months,” Alewine says, people might not have left.
The Preview Party has long preceded Georgia Court Appointed Special Advocates’ signature fundraiser, the CASA on the Catwalk Luncheon & Fashion Show. As a member of the planning committee, Alewine recognized the potential to make the preview a must-attend event.
Held at her house in 2019 and 2020, the Preview Party incorporated a silent auction, food, cocktails and a fun theme—Mardi Gras this year. Naming an honoree expanded the pool of attendees and future volunteers; Alewine helped secure this year’s honoree, the State Bar of Georgia’s Young Lawyers Division.
Most important was the addition of a men’s fashion show with clothes from Guffey’s of Atlanta, complementing the women’s fashion show at the luncheon. Inviting judges, radio personalities and others, including her husband, consultant Ralph Alewine, to serve as models fully integrated men into the fun and the fundraising, which set a record of $11,000 this year.
Georgia CASA and its 46 local programs represent the interests of abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Alewine, 43, began volunteering with CASA in Fulton County early in her time as an associate at Troutman Sanders (now Troutman Pepper). Troutman and the State Bar’s Young Lawyers Division provided volunteers to CASA, and another of her organizations, Junior League, raised money for the nonprofit. Since 2014, she has served on the CASA board.
“If you can help children, that’s the most important thing. It’s right where my heart is now,” Alewine says.
The Atlanta native was the daughter of Gerald Alan Blackburn, who served three terms on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and Linda Blackburn, who was active with Junior League while raising four children. With degrees from Georgia State and Mercer Law, Alewine took a Troutman partner’s advice to begin pro bono work from the start of her legal career, which focuses on government-related issues such as zoning and land use. “Even though you think you’re so busy right now, you’ll learn later that you’re not,” she says he told her.
That wisdom hit home after daughter Carraway was born in September 2016. Traveling around Georgia for corporate clients became difficult, so she launched the Alewine Law Firm from home in early 2019. She also serves on the Tuxedo Park board and the parents council at Carraway’s school, the Atlanta Speech School and heads the women’s tennis association at the Cherokee Town & Country Club.
“You use your talents the best that you can,” Alewine says. “I’m not a doctor, not a nurse. Those aren’t my skill sets. But I am good at connecting people, and I like assisting people.”
She is also teaching her daughter the value of volunteer service. They participate in Open Hand, which delivers meals to those in need. “There’s nothing that the 80-yearold women at the nursing home like more than when my 3-year-old comes up and brings the food.”
Carraway also has joined her as a model at CASA on the Catwalk. The first time was by accident: Alewine had her daughter backstage after walking the runway and didn’t realize all the models would make a final appearance.
“She walked the runway and just kind of flaunted it and did her model wave,” Alewine says. The next year, Carraway was invited to model.
COVID-19 prevented a return to the runway this year. The luncheon was postponed from March, then canceled and transformed into an online auction. Alewine is hoping to party in person again in 2021.
“It’s so much fun to bring all of the volunteers and supporters together here,” she says. “My husband’s a little bit thrilled that my volunteer party planning is on hiatus, but I’m ready to start things back up when it’s safe.”
STORY: Michael Jacobs
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