Primo Classico Soars in Support of Homeless Families

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The Primo Classico was held at Hawthorne Global Aviation Services in Wheeling, IL.  Benefiting the Primo Center for Women and Children, the fundraising event was a spectacular evening of sensory overload. Hosted by Diane and Quintin Primo and chaired by Cassie Carver of Lake Forest Sportscars, the evening attracted over 350 attendees

who, once again, experienced the European luxe life. But this year it was taken to a whole new level.

Ducati motorcycles lined the registration area and wait staff passed Brut Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling Wine by Jean-Charles Boisset (JBC) for guests to enjoy before entering Hawthorne’s new 30 thousand-foot hangars.

Once inside, hot pink and electric blue lighting complemented the soft aqua and coral décor designed by A Perfect Event. The reception was an antipasti bar offering signature dishes from some of the Chicago area’s best eateries:  Basil Leaf Café, Bella Via, Francesca’s Intimo, Prosecco, Tocco Chicago, and Shop & Save Markets.

A curated wine program was sponsored by Wine Channel TV and wines were selected by its founder, sommelier Jessica Altieri. Featured wines included three of Tenute Rubino’s wines, Nautilus’s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and Meiomi  California wines.  Ms. Romina Leopardi of the Tenute Rubino family flew in from Puglia, Italy just for the Primo Classico event.

A Challenger 300, a Hawker 800XP, and James Bond’s “Goldfinger” 1964 Aston Martin DB5 flanked the front of the

room. Next to the DB5, Kate Johnson of Kate Johnson Artistry was busy painting a tuxedo jacket on the torso of a male model, while three female body-painted models glided through the room.

In the center of the hangar, Ferrari’s 488GBT was waiting under red cover for its debut, while three other Ferraris formed a line at the back near the hangar doors. Chicago skyline helicopter rides were offered by Chicago Helicopter Experience in their new Eurocopter EC-135, a luxurious, high-performance executive helicopter. All proceeds were donated to the Primo Center.

Dinner was a sumptuous two-course affair generously underwritten by Chef Mauro Mafrici of Pelago Ristorante.  The primi course was a delicate homemade gnocchi pasta, which was followed by the secondi, a flavorful veal chop with vegetable potato au gratin. Tenute Rubino sponsored the dinner wines, and featured wines were their Torre Testa and Gianòla. At each guest’s place was a hand-painted wine glass, a gift for each attendee from Wine Channel TV.

Marion Brooks of NBC5 Chicago emceed the evening and invited Diane and Quintin Primo to join her on stage.  The Primos spoke eloquently about the center’s beginnings, founded by Quintin’s father almost 40 years ago.  They introduced Angelica Burgos, a center resident, who discussed the life-altering changes she has experienced since coming to the center.  Angelica, who spent time in prison a few years ago, shared how she has turned her life around with the center’s help, and has completed courses toward a bachelor’s degree, earning a grade point average of over 3.6.

Congressman Danny K. Davis received the Primo Global Service Award. Established this year, the award was created in recognition of the Primo Center’s transformational founder, The Rt. Rev. Quintin E. Primo, Jr., a suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, and his devoted wife, Winifred P. Primo, an early childhood educator.  During their lifetimes, they worked as a seamless team to help the neediest among us. The award honors individuals, like Congressman Davis, whose leadership and broad visions are helping to address one of society’s most challenging sectors – homeless parents and their children. Lalique was a sponsor of the award, the Victoire, a crystal replica of a mascot originally designed by René Lalique in 1928 to adorn the vehicles of the day.

Next, it was on to the live auction with acclaimed auctioneer David Goodman. On the auction block: a multi-course dinner with wine pairings in the Fireplace Room at Pelago Ristorante (including a set of Lalique wine glasses), exciting packages to the Four Seasons Bali and  the Zanibar Park Hyatt in Tanzania (accompanied by on Qatar Airways business class tickets), training for four with former Navy SEALs, a $22,000 Hublot and Tom James custom-made suit, a private party for twenty at Lake Forest Sportscars with the James Bond DB5, and trips to Italy, Costa Rica and the Bahamas.

Then came the exciting unveiling of Ferrari’s 488 GBT.  Filling the room with sound, a heart pounding video of the 488 GBT traveling through Italy’s countryside, was shown while the sports car was unveiled.

Following dinner, guests enjoyed an exquisite dolce bar with gourmet cupcakes from Swirlz Cupcakes,  macaroons from Vanille Pâtisserie, and gelatos from Angelo Gelato Italiano. After-dinner thirst was quenched by Le Medallion and Brut Champagne.  After, everyone danced to the energetic sounds of mix master DJ Madrid.

Primo Classico grossed over $475,000.  All net proceeds directly benefit the organization, which enables the agency to continue its life-altering programs.

Christine Achre, CEO of the Primo Center, said of the event, “The Primo Center is truly humbled by the level of support shown in response to Primo Classico. We are anticipating this to be our largest and most successful fundraiser to date. We are truly grateful that the funds raised will directly impact our success in breaking the cycle of homelessness in families.”

Quintin E. Primo III, Co-chairman of the Board added, “The Primo Classico 2015 was a magical event. The people, food, vehicles and planes were on a level I have not seen before at a charitable event. Everyone had an extraordinary time, escaping if just for an evening to

the European luxe life. But the evening was all about the cause: helping the Primo Center help people in need – those in our community who find themselves homeless, mentally anguished, and all but forgotten.”

A brunch was held on Sunday at the Primo residence in Lake Forest for VIP sponsors and guests. Featured chefs were two award-winning masters, Chef Paul Kahan of the One Off Hospitality Group and Chef Matthias Merges of Folk Art Management. Wines from Tenute Rubino and Meiomi were provided through Wine Channel TV, and champagne was furnished by Le Medallion.


Premium Sponsors:

Lauren and Marc Jacobson; Diane and Quintin Primo; Prudential;  B2 Aviation and SC Aviation;  Capri Investment Group;  DLA Piper;   ESP Presents;  GE Asset Management;  Greenfield Partners and Elizabeth Wohlleb; Hawthorne Global Aviation; Thomas Kim; Joseph M. Kunze;  Lake Forest Sportcars; Loop Capital; MarCon Communications; Marsh;  Pagliuco Design;  Pelago Ristorante; Qatar Airways; Frances and Chris Renk;   Wine Channel TV; Tenuto Rubino; Meiomi Wines; Michigan Avenue Magazine was the media partner.


About the Primo Center for Women & Children:

The Primo Center for Women and Children is committed to breaking the cycle of intergenerational homelessness and poverty. It is an innovative and results-oriented organization that provides both transitional and permanent housing solutions, as well as trauma-informed mental health services to homeless women and their children. The Center’s Family Leadership Institute empowers families to thrive independently; and it is regarded as one of the most trusted programs in the city of Chicago.  The center serves a predominantly poor, minority population on the impoverished West Side of Chicago and has been serving the community since 1978. This area of Chicago leads the city in the percentage of population living below the poverty line, infant mortality, unwed births, homelessness and numerous other social, emotional and physical issues.


On a personal note: It was a privilege to be the event planner for the 4th annual Primo Classico and work with such a talented planning committee. The tremendous success of the event was due to an active committee, dedicated sponsors, supporters and donors. Thank you Diane & Quintin and to all who participated.


Headline Image: Quintin Primo III, Matt Woodburn, Margaret O’Connor, David Annin, Cassie Carver, Diane Primo, Bernie Burns.

Photo Credit: Paolo Cascio Photography and Mila Samokhina Photography

About Margaret O'Connor

Margaret J. O’Connor is the founder/owner of MarCon Communications, a public relations and special events firm which handles the publicity and event needs for a diverse range of clients. She’s involved with numerous charities in Chicago and is active in its lifestyle and social scene. She grew up and was educated in Africa, Australia and America and holds degrees in marketing and finance from the University of Illinois. She is a contributing writer to many print and digital publications and her focus is lifestyle, culinary and nonprofit events. Read more from this author.