Grande Dames Tea Tickets Going Fast





February 22, 2012                                                       




Melissa Simontis, APR                                  Susan Bennett, APR, CPRC

PACE Center for Girls - Lee                          Susan Bennett Marketing & Media

(239) 425-2366, ext. 25                                  (239) 277-5255       







Teapot artwork by Artist Wellington Ward

and other well-known artists to be offered during silent auction


            FORT MYERS, FLA., February 22, 2012– Tickets are now on sale for the Grande Dames Tea presented by PACE Center for Girls of Lee County.

The Grande Dames Tea honoring Michel Doherty of Cape Coral, Mavis Miller of Fort Myers and Anna “Boots” Tolles of Cape Coral will be held Tuesday, March 20, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre located at 1380 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.  Mei-Mei Chan, The News-Press Media Group President and Publisher, will once again serve as mistress of ceremonies.

Tickets for the tea are $50 per person and may be purchased either online at  or by phoning 239-425-2366, ext. 25. Table sponsorships are also available.

As a special added attraction this year, nationally renowned Artist Wellington Ward has contributed his talents by inviting several well-known local artists to join him in creating artwork that will be available for sale during a silent auction.

“I have asked each of the artists to create a still life of teapots or tea kettles, in keeping with the tea concept.  Each artist will give his or her own interpretation in acrylics, oils or mixed media of their choice.  I will be as excited as the guests will be to see what they create,” Ward said.

Each piece of artwork will be an original measuring 12 inches by 16 inches and framed in black, according to Ward.

“We are delighted that an artist of Wellington Ward’s stature recognizes the good work of PACE and wants to contribute to helping our young ladies reach their full potential,” said Grande Dames Tea Co-Chair Dena Geraghty, who also is vice-chair of the PACE Lee Board of Directors and a trustee of PACE, Inc.     

 The theme of the Grande Dames Tea is The Wisdom of Age – Honoring the Female Spirit.  “I am very excited about the ladies who are being honored. I really look forward to hearing them interact with the PACE girls,” said Grande Dames Tea Co-Chair Sandra Stilwell, who also is a board member of PACE Lee.

This is the fourth year of the historic Grande Dames Tea.  Previous honorees have included philanthropists Berne Davis, Eleanore Kleist and Barbara B. Mann in 2009; Jeanne Bochette, Helen Hendry and Veronica Shoemaker in 2010; and Myra Daniels, Kathleen Nealon and Mimi Straub in 2011. 

The Grande Dames Tea was originated by PACE Center for Girls of Lee County to honor women who have played major roles in Southwest Florida history through decades of service, philanthropy and helping others.

The agenda for the tea will include interaction between the PACE girls and the three Grande Dames, in a question and answer format, that Geraghty and Stilwell said “is sure to be thought-provoking and poignant.”

 White House | Black Market is the title sponsor of the Grande Dames Tea.  Other major sponsors are the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and Edison National Bank, along with media sponsors Grandeur Magazine, The News-Press Media Group, and NBC-2.

PACE is a Florida-based, not for profit organization, and the only statewide prevention program for adolescent at-risk girls in the nation.  Its mission is to provide girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy.  Since the Lee County program opened its doors in 2007, more than 400 girls have been served, helping them to begin a new journey toward a life of dignity and success.

PACE accepts referrals from the juvenile justice system, the Department of Children & Families, school personnel, community services agencies, parents, family members, friends and self-referrals.  PACE Lee’s most recent outcome report shows that 94 percent of girls served have no involvement with the criminal justice system a year after transitioning from PACE’s day program. As a result, PACE reduces the significant long term costs associated with teen pregnancy, substance abuse, unemployment and long term economic dependency. 


For more information about the Grande Dames Tea, please contact PACE Director of Development Melissa Simontis at (239) 425-2366, ext. 25, or Grande Dames Tea Co-Chair Dena Geraghty at (239) 851-1028, or visit