Lumber & Lace Ball

Calling all do-gooders


What: Lumber & Lace Ball

When: 6 pm Sat., Mar. 4

Where: The Majestic Ballroom, 1027 N. Forest St.

Cost: $25


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bellingham is a city full of fun-loving do-gooders. Sure, people around these parts could spearhead simple fundraisers—and sometimes do—but more often than not, they pair their monetary asks with entertainment elements. We tend to be generous folk, but our largesse comes more easily when we can pay to party, all in the name of a good cause. This is why, no matter what time of year it might be, you’ll find benefits and fundraisers aplenty on the calendar of community whatdoings. For instance, this week’s opportunities for charitable action include a Firefighter Stairclimb at Boundary Bay (March 4), and back-to-back Bellingham Girls Rock Camp benefits at the Shakedown (March 3-4), events organized by energized and altruistic community members.

Lindsie Fratus-Thomas is one of those do-gooders. Along with being politically active and socially aware, Fratus-Thomas is also an evangelist for one local organization in particular: Whatcom Hospice Foundation. And for the past four years, she’s devoted countless hours and unknown amounts of energy to organizing the Lumber & Lace Ball, a yearly event that raises awareness of and money for the local organization that helps bring peace and companionship to folks living out their final days.

“The original idea for the event was to bring that word ‘hospice’ into the community’s common vocabulary and to associate it with positive, compassionate end-of-life care,” Fratus-Thomas says. “When people hear the word ‘hospice,’ it often makes them uncomfortable with the thought of death, but really, hospice is about compassion, and that compassion extends to anyone regardless of their situation or their ability to pay.”

Make no mistake: the Lumber & Lace Ball is not devoted to death and dying. It’s a party—a pretty big one, in fact—and the focus is firmly on fun.

The ball has been evolving over its four years of existence, but a few foundational elements remain the same from year to year. First, along with helping people to understand what hospice is all about, Lumber & Lace is also all about local history. Each year comes with a different “theme”—last year’s event honored our maritime history, while Fratus-Thomas says this year comes with a “timber and trappers” theme. Old-timey dress is not mandatory, but is definitely encouraged, and nearly all of last year’s 200-plus attendees donned their very best semi-formal, early-1900s-era finery in order to dance the night away.

Speaking of dancing, local music is also always on the Lumber & Lace menu, and the 2017 iteration will feature foot-stompin’, toe-tappin’ jams by High Mountain Stringband. And if you’re an expert in the fine art of do-si-do and allemande left, you’ll be happy to know the night will also feature square dancing with Tuesday Tunes, while Paul Silveria will be the capable caller guiding you through the motions.

As has become customary, Jason Byal of Positive Negative photography will be on hand to shoot black-and-white photos of attendees on actual film (that’s how you know it’s an old-timey affair) and will give everyone the option of purchasing handmade silver-gelatin prints that will make everyone who sees them wonder whether that’s you or some distant doppelganger relative from your family’s past. Also doing their part to set the scene will be stylists from the Schwarzkopf Professional Beauty Institute, who will use their nimble fingers and many skills to craft the hairstyles of a bygone era. Because this is a fundraiser, auction items will also be available for purchase, and Fratus-Thomas has rounded up a passel of prizes that are awaiting your eager bids.

All of that is more than enough to give people their donation’s worth, but Fratus-Thomas has even more up her sleeve for the 2017 installment of Lumber & Lace.

“New and different this year is a beard contest,” Fratus-Thomas says. “We’re going to have three or four judges walking around the floor to pin dudes—or ladies, ya never know—who they think have the ‘best beard’ and then we’ll have those folks come up onstage at some point to receive their prizes, one of which is tickets to the Deming Logging Show and a beard-grooming kit.”

But the beard contest isn’t the only new element Lumber & Lace has to offer. “We have also added ‘Memory Seedlings,’ where folks can purchase a native species seedling and plant it in memory of someone they have lost,” Fratus-Thomas says. “Saving the planet and acknowledging ones we’ve lost at the same time!”

Another weapon in the Lumber & Lace entertainment arsenal is that the event now has its very own beer, crafted for them by the community-minded brewers at Kulshan Brewery. Called Lumber and Lace Bootstrap Brown, it will be available at the ball itself, and was also flowing through various taps in town throughout February, raising money for the Hospice Foundation with every pint pulled.

Fratus-Thomas acknowledges the ball is a huge event that requires an enormous amount of planning, but insists she does everything possible to keep her operational budget in check. “We try to keep costs low so that nearly all of the money raised can benefit Hospice,” she says. Given that last year’s event raised more than $8,000 for the Hospice Foundation, I’m inclined to think her cost-saving measures have been wildly successful.

When all is said and done, Fratus-Thomas hopes the Lumber & Lace Ball will help take “hospice” from feared term to household word. And, of course, she’d like her event to be an old-fashioned do-gooder good time.

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