It is a tradition since the Gold Rush in San Francisco to intertwine charity fundraising and a fantastic party, and Pets Are Wonderful (PAWS) did that and more at the Palace Hotel Petchitecture party on May 15. The event was centered around the unusual architecture of the dog and cat pet condos from Anshen + Allen; Greg DeLory AIBD Architecture; Gensler; Goren Architecture + Design; Huntsman Architectural Group; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP; TSAO Design Group + Axelrod Design; and Zinc Details.
PAWS President/CEO John Lipp moved quickly through the 3 large rooms at the hotel greeting the 800 plus patrons and guests, and their 250 leashed dogs. The central space was the Garden Court, one of the grandest rooms in The West that resembles a vast 3 story high Victorian conservatory with its glass panel ceiling and large palms. It has been the essential venue for Sunday brunch in the city for decades. Lipp has had extensive experience working for non-profit organizations for over 22 years in the health, arts, and animal welfare fields. He served as an interim executive director of San Francisco’s Positive Resource Center and the Mother’s Milk Bank in San Jose, and he worked as a consultant with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Washington D.C. based Points of Light Foundation. His acclaimed book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Recruiting and Managing Volunteers” is a masterwork for anyone who wants to know how to recruit, train, manage and retain volunteers in a an era when non-profits survive by their unpaid help. Lipp has been with his husband Peter for 13 years, and their family includes dogs Promo and Marty and cat Rex.
Throughout the evening passionate MC Jan Wahl from KRON TV entranced the large audience with her expressions of pleasure in meeting them and their pets. Shrimp salad, lavish displays of roast beef and turkey, and wine and champagne delighted the guests, and there were snacks throughout the venue for the well-behaved dogs.
PAWS volunteers at the party who have been with the organization for years spoke with each other and guided visitors to the entertainment, exhibit, and buffet areas. PR wizard Lawrence Helman was situated at a Garden Court entrance and provided invaluable assistance to passersby. Liz Shaw petted a guest’s poodle and described her joy working as a PAWS volunteer. She is a personal assistant and concierge at her Going Places For You business. Gail Columbo brought her rabbit Vivienne, one of the few non-canine pets spotted, and she manages a cat health business called Cat Faeries. Last year’s PAWS fundraiser featured a cat in a dog costume and a chicken, which drew quite a bit of unwanted canine attention.
Notable guest included spectacular singer Paula West and her bulldog Satchmo, Wells Fargo Bank’s Mario Diaz and his dog Mia and friend Katy Johnson, and PR consultant Mark Rhoades. Clothier Wilkes Bashford was there with a glamorous entourage, and he has been especially generous to PAWS since its founding. This journalist photographed a chinchilla, an iguana, a parrot, and various show dogs and cats for a promotional PAWS show in Bashford’s store windows during the organization’s early years, and it drew a lot of volunteers and donors.
PAWS is a non-profit that helps people with illnesses keep the companionship of their pets. Volunteer opportunities include pet food delivery, dog walking, cat care, and rides to the vet. Check out pawassf.org for more information.