Twenty friends and admirers of Effi Barry are planning to honor the District's First Lady at a tea party and present her with a monetary gift from ticket sales that could total thousands of dollars.
Tickets to the public party, scheduled for July 29, cost $25, and organizers said 1,000 people could be accommodated the University of the District of Columbia's Carnegie Library.
"We see her as being a lady with so much class and poise, we wanted to do something very elegant," said Yetta Galiber, tea party general chairwoman and executive director of the Information, Protection and Advocacy Center for Handicapped Individuals. "We thought that this is the type of affair that should be given for a lady of her caliber."
Galiber said the party is loosely modeled on a recent luncheon for Gail Berendzen, wife of former American University president Richard Berendzen, who resigned and pleaded guilty to charges of making obscene phone calls. About 250 attended that lunch at $35 a ticket. Gail Berendzen donated the proceeds to charity.
"We had been discussing Mrs. Barry's great courage in this difficult time," said Galiber, "and I think the idea came about due to a group of women who had an affair for Mrs. Berendzen."
Cathy Hughes, owner of WOL radio, organized the committee that will host the event. "Many people have expressed to Miss Hughes that they were very much encouraged by how Mrs. Barry has held up during the years of investigations and media attention," said Gerald Smith, executive assistant to Hughes, who was out of town.
The gift, he said, will give Barry "an opportunity to splurge on herself. The intent as expressed by Miss Hughes is to give her some money she could use for any personal thing she wishes to do. If she wishes to take a trip or buy some clothes, if she wishes to pay some bills, it's up to her."
Smith said he did not know how many people will attend, but he said, "There appears to be a great deal of support for the First Lady, as well as -- in this community -- for her husband." If more than 1,000 tickets are sold, he expects a larger site will be found.
Tickets for the event are being sold at businesses around the area, including the Afro-centric Pyramid Book Store. "We're backing the mayor, Pyramid Corporation is, and we'll do whatever we can to fight some of the injustice that's being done against him," said Pyramid manager Teresa George. Effi Barry, George said, "has got a lot of admiration because people really feel she's supporting her husband and standing behind her husband, and she deserves to be recognized and supported."
Effi Barry also received a round of recognition and support at a Saturday morning prayer breakfast given by the Daughters of Elks organization at the Columbia Temple at Third Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW.
The event, a fund-raiser for "boarder babies" at D.C. General Hospital, was marked by gestures of affection. A small, solemn girl in white ruffles told Barry to keep up her strength and "walk on ... live on." Prayers were said for her, songs were sung and she gave autograph after autograph.
"I just wanted to let her know -- 'You're not alone,' " said Imagene Stewart, a homeless-rights activist who organized the prayer breakfast and is on the tea committee.
"I am very humbled," Barry said of her reception at the breakfast, which was expected to raise $1,000 for the hospital. "I'm very complimented by the outpouring of love and support the women have shown to us."