Mardi GrOZ puts fun in fundraiser

Below is an example of my work, involving pitching, researching, interviewing, producing, writing, and editing more than twenty articles, as well as photographing more than 80 assignments for Washtenaw Community College’s official newsletter, On the Record, which has a print distribution of 140,000 across Washtenaw County, Michigan.

The 2017 Mardi Gras annual gala and fundraiser, hosted by the Washtenaw Community College Foundation, carried a tantalizing theme — the Wizard of Oz.

A yellow brick road wound through the Morris Lawrence Building to symbolize the sense of home experienced by so many students who have passed, and continue to pass, through WCC’s doors.

Sixty Culinary Arts students prepared a lavish buffet boasting six entrees, including gnocchi with roasted brussel sprouts, and summer squash risotto topped with a seared scallop. Seven guest chefs volunteered their time to guide and collaborate with the students, including WCC graduates David Whitney, executive chef at Paesano’s, and James Wilhelm, executive chef at the Black Pearl.

“This community college changes lives, and through the resulting careers of these students, also the course of history.”

Tom Bletcher, retired mathematics instructor at WCC

Guests enjoyed a scrumptious array of desserts prepared by WCC culinary students and faculty, while dancing the night away to the music of Detroit-based band L’USA.

WCC Culinary Arts Students prepare a lavish meal for the Mardi GrOZ fundraiser dinner.

Two notable attendees didn’t—and haven’t ever—missed a beat.

For the 32nd year in a row, retired WCC mathematics instructor Tom Bletcher and his wife, Edi, attended the gala in support of the college and its students. The couple are the only known attendees of every Mardi Gras.

© 2017 Jessica Bibbee |

“The first Mardi Gras gala started out in 1985 as a community celebration and has evolved into more of a fundraiser that impacts students,” said Tom Bletcher. “This community college changes lives, and through the resulting careers of these students, also the course of history.”

This year’s event had all the glitz and glamour of an Emerald City.  But the real gem lies in the education that awaits the hundreds of WCC students who will benefit from a higher education. Foundation event planner Rose Bailey said about $100,000 was raised through the event.

In keeping with the night’s Mardi GrOZ theme, event co-chairs Rob and Mary Boonin couldn’t have said it better: “There’s no place like WCC.”

Text and photography by Jessica Bibbee. View digital version of original print story here.

(Related content: View hundreds more photos on Flickr, including candids and portraits.) 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s