‘Wine & Shine’ — two tasty beverages for a good cause

The widow and daughters of longtime VMC supporter Don Sproles — after whom this fundraiser was named — seemed to know almost everyone in the room. They are, from left, Amanda Thompson, Karen Sproles and Lauren Karnitz.

We knew we would enjoy the camaraderie and the wine and moonshine tastings on a recent Friday night at a fundraiser to benefit the Volunteer Ministry Center. But we didn’t know we’d love the music so much!

The 9th annual Don Sproles Memorial Wine and Shine was held at the Crowne Plaza downtown and, in addition to the tastings, featured a silent auction and a super successful live auction conducted by our friend Bear Stephenson. The emcee was another buddy, News Sentinel columnist Sam Venable.

The invitation had just said “live music to be announced.” It turned out to be a fun old-time string band called the Tennessee Stifflegs. I will include a sample of their performance at the end of this post so you can get a feel for how much fun they are!

The wine tasting was conducted by Dr. Carol Costello, professor emerita in the University of Tennessee’s retail, hospitality and tourism management department, and the moonshine was provided by Sugarlands Distilling Company. Tastemaker Ben Grierson led us through that.

The Volunteer Ministry Center uses the money raised at this fun event to further its mission to eliminate homelessness in our community. Using case management and a “housing first” approach, VMC assists individuals with getting permanent supportive housing and provides resources to help people maintain housing.

It was wonderful seeing our old friend and longtime VMC board member Charlie Daniel, right, at the event. He invited us to sit at his table, which was terrific. Also in the photo are Alan Carmichael (my husband) and Chris Kahn.

Lauren Karnitz, left, greets Josephine Smith, a longtime employee of The Lunchbox, the company founded by Karen and Don Sproles.

Megan Venable, left, and Rosa Mar. Megan was covering the event for VIP Knoxville magazine.

Municipal Judge John Rosson with Kim Isenberg.

The Tennessee Stifflegs played throughout the evening. They are named after those “fainting goats” in Tennessee. I thought that was so funny!

I loved this pine cone wreath created by Lauren Karnitz that was in the silent auction.

Also this hysterical cartoon by Charlie Daniel!

Crowne Plaza General Manager Ken Knight, who also is a VMC board member, opened the fuse box to flash the lights indicating it was time for guests to take their seats.

Megan’s father, Sam Venable, stopped by to say hello to Robin Smith, left, and Debbie Emery.

It was great seeing Lucinda Denton, right. We haven’t seen her since before the pandemic. She was joined by her out-of-town cousins, Paul and Megan Weber.

Here’s Lucinda with our table host, Charlie Daniel.

Millie Tilson and Jim Farmer were at Charlie’s table, too.

Jeff and Lyn Johnson.

Elizabeth and Michael Grant.

Brooks and Karen Clark. Loved her name tag! It says, “Elizabeth Taylor!”

Carol Costello “Zoomed” in from Florida, where she lives now, to explain things! She was broadcast on a big screen, but I thought the pic was a little clearer on this laptop.

From left, Bieler Pere et Fils to be paired with aged Parmesan; Cotes du Rhone Rogue to be paired with Manchego cheese; Clos Siguier to be paired with Gruyère cheese; and Baron des Chartrons to be paired with Camembert cheese.

Moonshine tasting. No need to pair with anything! From left, Ryder Cup Lemonade, Mark & Digger’s Hazelnut Rum, Mark Rogers American Peach,  Appalachian Apple Pie and Banana Pudding Sippin’ Cream.

Buffet then opened! (Which was probably a good thing!)

After dinner, Bruce Spangler, CEO of the Volunteer Ministry Center, took the podium. He told us that during the pandemic, VMC helped 50 people move from the streets of Knoxville into housing of their own.

“Homelessness can be ended,” he said. “Even if it’s just one person at a time.”

Haha. These two cracked us up. Auctioneer Bear Stephenson, left, and emcee Sam Venable.

Bear in action!

Alan and I take pride in the fact that we ran up the bid on a game dinner at Sam
Venable’s house! We were happy to do that because we won the same item at an auction several years ago. We didn’t win it this night, but click here to see what a good time we had when we did win: bluestreak.moxleycarmichael.com/2015/11/11/an-unusual-auction-item-were-game.

After the auction, Bear came over to our table to greet Charlie Daniel.

And, before everyone left, he posed with his longtime girlfriend, Shirley Elder. She’s awesome!

Sam and Mary Ann Venable.

OK. As promised, here’s a snippet of Tennessee Stifflegs:



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