Friday, December 14, 2007

BRAVO to Kip Laramie

Kip Laramie’s handshake—his large hand holding yours firm but not tight—has that look-you-in-the-eye quality that says he is only paying attention to you right now. The fact that the floor of his restaurant is chock full be damned. Even when he has to excuse himself for a moment to care for the business, it is not with the sense of interruption; he is almost apologetic for stepping away to do his job.

Kip Laramie. (Click to enlarge image.)

He’s an affable man with a gap-toothed grin, and it is just hard not to like him.

Last night at his Santa Fe Café, 1500 Wilson Blvd., he hosted a fundraiser for the non-profit organization, BRAVO, Buyers and Renters Arlington Voice.

Fifty percent of the receipts went to BRAVO.

In an industry where success is clearing 10 to 12 percent, “I don’t make any money tonight,” Mr. Laramie said.

“We’re doing better than last year,” he reported, and then surveyed the tables to estimate the take. “I’m hoping we’ll give them at least a grand, maybe twelve hundred” dollars.

This is the second or third year that he has hosted this event, he said. He got involved with this through BRAVO’s president, Charlie Rinker, a well-known Arlington housing activist and a regular with his wife at the restaurant.

“We do that [host fundraisers] for certain groups we feel we can be supportive of,” he said. He hosts these events for Food and Friends and A-SPAN, among other groups, he said. He is the chair of the Homeless Services Committee of Rosslyn neighborhood BID, a business group.

BRAVO’s executive director, Caridad Palerm, said, “It’s going pretty well, actually.” Not only does BRAVO get half the receipts, she said that people will come in and write checks. Last year they received $700 or $800 that way.

“At the same time, all the affordable housing people get together here,” she said.

Caridad Paleram talks about the event with Charlie Rinker. (Click to the enlarge the image.

People chowed baskets of chips and fajitas and washed them down with margaritas and Dos Equis.

Charlie Rinker was there with his wife, Lora, the former executive director of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. Mimi Oziel, the director of the Buckingham Youth Brigade was there, as was Edgar Aranda Yanoc, an immigration attorney, and Sara Melèndez, a consultant in philanthropy.

The newly initiated were there, too, including Ivette Estrada an Arlingtonian who is a neophyte on BRAVO’s board.

“Had it not been for Cari [Caridad Palerm] I probably never would have heard about it,” Ms. Estrada said.

BRAVO works closely with Buckingham Villages and Gates of Ballston tenants. This fall, Ms. Palerm sat on the Buckingham Village 3 Working Group, and is on the committee that will review proposals regarding that block’s redevelopment and sale.

Rosa Briceño and Sara Melèndez eat a meal and talk politics.

Rosa Briceño, the family involvement coordinator at K.W. Barrett Elementary School, drank a beer with Ms. Melèndez and talked about how the Buckingham neighborhood has changed in recent years, how most or all of the Bangladeshi families are gone, and how Latinos now make up a much smaller portion of the neighborhood.

“Affordable housing has always been important to me," Ms. Briceño said.

In the interest of full disclosure, I drank two Dos Equis (or XXXX) draughts, and paid $20 for them. –ST

Related stories and sites…
  • Village 3 RFP is Out
  • Letter: Palerm “Very Happy” with RFP Process
  • County Board Votes on Bham ($32 million for BV3)


  • Comments:
    Thanks Steve for this great story!!! I really had a great time with you and all the people at the table. It was a beautiful night for BRAVO. Thanks for your support!!


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