Teal and peach. Two colors you haven’t seen together since the ‘80s (and haven’t wanted to), but which are sure to surface in abundance at this years Bridesmaid Ball, a fundraiser for United Way of the Bluegrass—celebrating the tackiest, most horrendous confections Lexington’s closets have to offer. Do your pumps match your earrings? If not, dye them now.

And it’s not just for the girls—powder-blue tuxedos are encouraged for the men in attendance. Add a ruffled shirt? Sure. So much the better. Too tight? Better still? White shoes or belt? You’ll be welcomed with open arms.

The obvious question is: what POSSESSED United Way to come up with this event…. Just when the emotional scars were starting to heal from the ghosts of weddings past (to say nothing of the physical scars from all that melting polyester)?

Carrie Boling, Marketing Director, has a reasonable explanation: “Before we started planning the Bridesmaids Ball we conducted research including community surveys. It was overwhelming that women and young professionals in Central Kentucky want to be involved in the community through volunteering and fundraisers. In particular, they were looking for a fundraiser that wasn’t just a male dominated golf scramble or the same-old dinner and reception. The Bridesmaids Ball has worked for other communities tremendously and we look forward to making it a landmark event in Lexington—giving women and those in their 20s, 30s and 40s a chance to be involved.”

So if the traditional rubber-chicken dinner isn’t for you, United Way has provided an alternative.

Kara Hamilton, Committee Chair, is heartened by the community response so far. “This has been an amazing event to plan. It is the only fundraiser that I’ve ever been a part of where people are calling us to give donations, to be active on the planning committee and to be involved somehow.”

Event and Communications Coordinator Sara Jefferies sees the event as a kind of a… public service… “We’re helping to make honest women out of those brides who think their bridesmaids will get more than one use out of that hideous peach taffeta tea length gown with the puffy sleeves and butt bows. And what fella hasn’t wanted to wear a baby blue tuxedo?”

Kathy Plomin, United Way’s executive director, sees this event as a logical way to reach younger donors and volunteers who want to get involved, but often feel shut out by the traditional (some would argue: dull) black tie dinners and golf tourneys. She says, “We are really interested in targeting the younger generation that may not know about us. For us, this is more of an outreach than a fundraiser.”

This comes at an important time for the organization, as she explains, “We are in the process of transitioning from a traditional fundraiser model to a community leader and role model.”

That’s a process that’s going to require new blood.

“We realized we were missing generation X. Our main goal for this event is to reach out and connect with the young professionals and young women of this community in particular,” Plomin says. “We want to teach them about United Way and our goals and ideals.”

A good sport herself, Plomin confesses, “We’ve all been there. I’ve kept some of my bridesmaids dresses even though I never thought I’d get to wear them again. Now everyone has a chance to dig out their old dresses for one more night,” though she remained tight-lipped about her possible selection.

If you plan to go, all the organizers agree it’s best to err on the side of bad taste. Jefferies advises, “The worse, the better. It’s best if it’s tacky and doesn’t match and hurts your eyes a little.”

Plomin chimes in, “This is a great time to wear your old banana clip or put your hair in a side ponytail.”Ummmmmm. Okkkkkkk. It IS for a good cause. Just keep repeating it. Believe.

What to Wear, Where to Go
The Bridesmaids Ball will be complete with dancing, door prizes and contests such as ugliest dress and most outrageous hair to highlight the unfortunate fashion choices many of us have made, or have been made to wear over the years. This event is aimed at women and young professionals—singles and couples alike.The details:

Date: Friday, August 6

Time: 8pm-1am, after party at Bigg Blue Martini from 1am until 2:30am.

Place: Bigg Blue Martini and the Radisson’s Grand Ballroom

Entertainment: Long Duk Dong will play hits from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s;Elvis impersonator will welcome all guests and will play a short set; DJ to take requests; photos available, both candid and posed in front of backdrop.

Awards: most retro, most outrageious hair, ugliest dress, tackiest tuxedo. Awards include a gift certificate to Joli Salon and Day Spa and a Tuxedo rental from Geno’s Formal Wear.

Other: silent auction, special martini bars, and free wedding cake.

Tickets: $30 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Radisson Plaza Hotel, United Way of the Bluegrass or Special group rates are available at—$25 per person for groups of 4 or more people.

Partner businesses: The following downtown restaurants will be offering dinner discounts to Bridesmaids Ball ticket holders Friday, August 6: anna belle’s, Bellini’s, Bistro 147, Columbia steakhouse, and Metropol. Exact discounts listed at

The following salons will be offering discounts in honor of the Bridesmaids Ball on August 6: Douglass and Associates, Ecotage at Lazarus/Macy’s, Posh, Kendall’s salon, Planet Salon and Rain Spa, Joli Salon and Day Spa, Lexington Hair Design. Exact discounts specified at

United Way 101

Mission: United Way of the Bluegrass’s mission is to mobilize the caring power of our regional community to improve lives.

United Way efforts support more than 200 programs and focused initiatives with the goal of providing solutions to the most critical issues in eight counties in Central Kentucky.

In 2003, individuals and companies in Central Kentucky, pledged $7.2 million through United Way of the Bluegrass.

United Way measure the results of programs and initiatives to ensure that contributions are being used effectively. Decisions are based on outcomes evaluations, audit and management practice reviews and alignment with United Way’s local, priority, community outcomes.

All donations are invested in programs that work toward long-term solutions in three impact areas identified by groups of volunteers around Central Kentucky.

Lifelong Learning—All children, youth, and adults engage in learning opportunities throughout their lives leading to long-term personal, social and community-wide development.

Health and Safety for All—All members of our community have knowledge and access to resources that help them live longer, healthier lives and practice safe living.

Caring Community—Everyone is aware of community needs and opportunities, access those opportunities and share responsibility for improving our community.

“We work together toward long-term solutions — changes that matter — it’s the power of people working togther the united way.”

—Alan Stein, Chairman of the Board

United Way 101

Get On Board
Get On Board recruits, trains, places, and helps retain a diverse group of volunteers on nonprofit boards in Fayette County.

Funded through a grant from the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation, Get On Board’s 7-week inaugural class kicked off in May 2004. For more information contact Susie Cavanaugh at 233-4461, ext. 238,, or log onto

Success By 6
Success By 6 encourages and facilitates collaborations and partnerships in Fayette County to unite our community’s businesses, government, service providers, advocates, educators, and families to ensure that our young children are born healthy, remain healthy, are nurtured and are ready to successfully enter school by age 6.

Check out for information about Success By 6 projects and partnerships. For more information, contact Catherine Warner at 381-1302 or catherine.warner@uwbg,org.

Success By 6 is a collaborative effort between United Way of the Bluegrass and LexLinc. Success By 6 relies on funding from United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society as well as collaborative grant and foundation requests.

By the end of 2005, United Way of the Bluegrass will join other communities across the United States with a simple way to connect people looking for help with the organizations that serve them best—211. Residents in Fayette County needing information about anything from child care to emergency shelters to job training will be able to call 211, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to obtain information and referrals.

Interested in volunteering?
Log onto and click on Volunteer Solutions. This volunteer matching service, provided by United Way of the Bluegrass, allows volunteers to profile their interests and provides matching volunteer opportunities.n