Emily Thungkaew

Fashion for a cause

By - Jul 3rd, 2010 04:00 am
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On Thursday, July 8, Callen Construction and Callen Design Group will sponsor the third annual ReFashion for Life, a showcase of clothing and home products to benefit Common Ground Ministry/Elena’s House and The National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin.

The birth of this project has been 40 years in the making, when Tom Callen and Mary Ellen Huwiler became friends. Huwiler started the charity that helps HIV/AIDS positive people to cope with their illness and find support in a loving faith-based environment after a different local HIV/AIDS support community closed.  In August 2000, just six years after losing a loved one to HIV/AIDS herself, Huwiler left the fashion design industry (she worked as a clothing designer and project manager for 23 years) to open Common Ground Ministry/ Elena’s House.

About four years ago, Callen sat down with Huwiler and others to plan a fund-raising event for the charity.

“She has been a good friend for over 40 years and we just really wanted to think of ways to raise money,” said Callen.  The idea of a fashion show was overlooked for a while, but eventually, the team decided that it would be the perfect way to bring attention to the cause. With Callen being in architecture and home design, the team came to the conclusion to blend fashion and home design together.

With the help of Bjorn Nasset, currently a fashion editor at Milwaukee Magazine, models were wrangled and stores were contacted.  “The idea was to combine fashion with fashionable home improvement products,” stated Callen.

The event in its third year will have an extended runway due to its popularity in the past.  Also, the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin has been added to the list of benefiting charities, as the cause holds special significance for both Callen and Huwiler — in 2008, Mary Ellen gave Tom one of her kidneys.

The show will feature clothing from Milwaukee stores such as Goldi’s, Faye’s, Lela, Retique, ReThreads, Aala Reed, Flaire Boutique, Urban Laundry and Boutique Larrieux. The proceeds from the tickets as well as the voice and silent auctions will go directly to benefit both charities.

With Callen Constuction, Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, and The Kohler Company as sponsors of the event, Ronn Sontag Public Relations, Starmark Cabinetry, Infinity from Marvin, Diversified Insurance, JJJ Carpets, Hale Park Lumber, KG Stevens, United Products Corp., Diamond Electric, 21st Century Tile, Terra–Firma Landscape, Wauwatosa Wallboard, Bliffert Lumber and the Pfister have also donated their time and goods.

Live music, a silent auction and food will kick-off the night at 6 p.m., with the fashion show and live auction starting at 8:15 p.m. The evening will conclude with live music starting at 9:15 p.m. by Mr. Lucky Light.

Tickets can be purchased at the ReFashion for Life website. For more information, call 414-529-5509 or e-mail info@refashionforlife.com.

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