Ingrid – September 23, 2019
I’m so excited to tell you all about The Danish Home Foundation’s Annual Benefit this past Saturday night at the exquisite Oak Park Country Club! I went with Lindsay and her grandfather, Farfar, a resident of The Danish Home who’s become my good buddy.
We arrived shortly before 6:00 p.m. and immediately saw many familiar faces, including residents, staff and longtime supporters of The Danish Home enjoying the cocktail hour. It was so nice, and a little odd, to see people I’m used to encountering at The Danish Home in another context. It’s kind of like running into your teacher at the grocery store.
We also had the pleasure of meeting the Consul General of Denmark in Chicago, Jakob Skaarup Nielsen, and Vice Consul Lisbeth Christensen. These two friendly Danes accepted this year’s Essence Award for exceptional support of The Danish Home on behalf of the Consulate.
Farfar was greeted by nearly everyone, and the smile on his face the entire evening was priceless. After we got ourselves a glass of wine from the bar (well, Farfar got an Old Fashioned), we peeked into the dining room where Danish musicians Mads Tolling and Jacob Fischer were practicing for their performance later in the evening. We knew we were in for a real treat when we heard them rehearsing!
Back in the beautiful lobby, we perused the many great silent auction items. I had my eye on a gorgeous garnet necklace, but someone else outbid me. It’s okay, though; it was fun to participate in the auction. Later in the evening, an auctioneer led bidding on some awesome live auction prizes, including a fabulous European river cruise.
Dinner was really yummy (I had salmon), but what was even better were the gorgeous flower arrangements festooned with little Danish flags. These arrangements atop all tables in the dining room were donated by major sponsor and last year’s Essence Award winners Peter Ørum and family, owners of Midwest Groundcovers.
A short film featuring the Consulate’s historic partnership with The Danish Home over the years made us all chuckle at the end, when Jakob Skaarup Nielsen quipped that “it’s about time the Consulate received the Essence Award.”
It was also interesting to learn from the film that one of the female founders of The Danish Home, Mrs. CH Hanson, was married to the Danish Consul in the early 20th century. Why she wasn’t identified thoughout history by her first name is a clear sign of the times when women could not yet even vote!
The Danish Home’s president and CEO, Scott Swanson, was genuinely pleased to present Jakob and Lisbeth with the award that has been bestowed upon eight worthy recipients since 2012.
A highlight of the evening, at least for me as a former violin student, was the musical entertainment from Grammy Award-winning violinist Mads Tolling and jazz guitarist Jacob Fischer. Their unique stylings of various familiar pieces of music were every bit as impressive and entertaining as I’d seen in their videos on YouTube.
But even amidst award-winning entertainment, fetching auction packages and great food and beverage, the highest point of the evening was something present from the first moment until the last – the love for The Danish Home so evident among everyone there.
The Danish Home of Chicago is not just a retirement community. It’s a tightly bound extended family made up of generations of residents, staff, family members and community partners of The Danish Home, the oldest Danish-American institution in Chicago aside from the Consulate.
I am honored to be among them.