The “affluence” of Prince George’s County, which has been called the most “affluent” majority-black county in the country, was on display Friday night during a black-tie gala, honoring County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and raising funds for the National Alzheimer’s Association.
The county’s movers and shakers — local, regional, and state officials, business leaders and community activists — mingled during the gala organized by Robert and Margarett Baltimore inside the Sunset Room at the National Harbor. Women dressed in gold evening gowns moved elegantly through the well-heeled crowd. Men in black tuxedos toasted during a champagne reception, overlooking the Potomac, as vocalist Maggie Brown sang “Ave Maria.”
“The gala is your opportunity to reconnect with old friends, to make new friends and to establish new business connections,” said Margarett Baltimore, who, with her husband Robert Baltimore, founded The Helping Hand for Your Business Foundation in 2010 to help small business owners in the county grow their firms.
Margarett Baltimore said she wanted to “bring people together — business people and political people. Sometimes in our busy lives, we don’t take time to communicate and socialize. I love networking and cooking. I feel passionate about getting people together for a good cause.”
“The beautiful thing Margarett is trying to do is to start a center for Alzheimer’s in Prince George’s County,” said Robert Baltimore. “For a long time, it’s been overlooked.”
The “Politician of the Year Award” went to Baker, whose wife Christa Beverly was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. Baker, who was honored for “outstanding leadership to the county,” was traveling with Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on a nine-day trade mission to Brazil and El Salvador. His son, Rushern L. Baker IV, who is running for delegate to the Maryland General Assembly, accepted the award in his place.
The black-tie event began nine years ago in the home of the Baltimores, who live in Mitchellville. “My mother is far too modest. A lot of you guys don’t know the history behind this event,” the Baltimores’ son, Robert Gross, told the crowd. “It started in the house. My mother realized once people moved into these prestigious neighborhoods, many people don’t know each other.
“She would have parties and people would say, ‘That person is familiar.’ And someone would say, ‘That person is your neighbor.’”
Raoul Dennis, publisher and editor-in-chief of Prince George’s Suite magazine, surveyed the Sunset Room and explained: “Elegance has always been part of this event. This event is the pinnacle, the top-shelf event for county and regional trend-setters for African Americans. The Baltimores have fantastic ties.”
“This is an A-list event,” said Dennis, who recently published a list of the “125 Who’s Who in Prince George’s,” which included politicians, business people and community activists. The magazine announced: “They are wealthy and the not so wealthy, the popular and the modest. …They are contributing toward a great society.”
Former Maryland state senator Tommie Broadwater said, “For the lady and her husband to get these many people to pay this much money, it’s amazing. She’s getting blacks in Prince George’s and business people and politicians to socialize.”
Tickets were priced at $100 each.
Broadwater said the event also shed light on the issue of Alzheimer’s in the community. “To me, there was nothing like this before,” said Broadwater. “We need somebody who will pay attention to this.
“My mother had it, and I know what we went through. We have so many people in the county with Alzheimer’s. Marg will work at it and get something done.”
U.S. Rep Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.), said: “It’s a special event. The Baltimores demonstrate a real commitment to the community. Only the Baltimores could bring us all here. It’s something people want to go to, both for the celebration and the commitment to the community and to see each other all duded up.”