Swing with Shorewood Continues to Evolve

Everyone would agree that a key component to being successful this year is the ability to be flexible and adapt to change. That has always been the case for SEED’s largest fundraising event, Swing with Shorewood, usually held in early March each year. This year will certainly look different, but it has looked different before and yet has consistently been a worthwhile endeavor. Whether you attend the event online this year, purchase one of the many fantastic auction items donated, or have a great time doing both, we are grateful for the community support shown through these events this and every year.

Swing with Shorewood has taken many forms over the years. SEED’s preeminent fundraising event began as a casual event held at Lakefront Brewery in 2004-2006, then moved to the Milwaukee Athletic Club for several years, the Wisconsin Club for one year, and Discovery World the past few years with cocktail attire, dinner, dancing, and a silent auction. In 2014, SEED added a weeklong online auction hosted by 32auctions featuring donations from community members, local businesses, and the ever popular Teacher Time activities. Wherever the venue, Swing with Shorewood continues to draw district families, community members, and local businesses together to raise up to $80k each year for Shorewood Schools. 

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Swing with Shorewood will be held entirely online for the first time. The Swing committee considered many ideas for how to raise as much as possible for our schools during this difficult time, while also bringing the community together and staying mindful of challenging circumstances. Our online auction will go on just as it has in prior years, going live on Friday April 2nd at 3:30pm and ending Sunday April 11th at 7:00 pm. Mark your calendars, and watch for the auction link to be emailed and posted on the SEED Facebook page.

For the event portion of Swing, a creative idea was brought to the table that would allow SEED to host an online event and also give an opportunity to high school students who otherwise would have to forgo a special and favored tradition. The Shorewood High School AFS Chapter is unable to hold their popular annual Showcase talent show fundraiser this year due to the pandemic, and has halted fundraising efforts as the foreign exchange program is currently on hold. SEED decided to fill the void by partnering with the SHS drama department and director Adam Schaefer to produce a virtual student talent show titled Swing Meets Showcase that features acts from all four schools. District parents, community members, and alumni from afar can purchase online admission to the show for a $15 donation. Wine, beer, and cocktail charcuterie baskets are also available for local attendees, and will be delivered by SEED volunteers the day of the event. RSVP to Swing Meets Showcase and order celebration baskets. This year you can dress up, dress down, or maybe invite your closest quarantine friends for a celebratory evening of entertainment and delicious refreshments delivered right to your door! 

Swing with Shorewood may look a lot different this year, but SEED aims to capture the spirit of community that has been a common thread from the beginning, even if we can’t be together in person. The event first took place in March 2004 at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and featured music, dancing, a live auction, and a silent auction. Russ and May Klisch are owners of the brewery and Shorewood residents, and hosted the event at the Commerce St. location for the first couple years with a more casual atmosphere. “At our brewery-hosted events, it was shoulder-to-shoulder mingling, partially because of the popular silent auction, and the “spirits” were always high,” May recalls. “It was our pleasure to do so to help fund great education in Shorewood,” she states. “We were just happy to provide the venue and donate the proceeds.”

Russ and May Klisch at Lakefront Brewery.
Russ and May Klisch at Lakefront Brewery

The couple’s two daughters attended Lake Bluff Elementary, Shorewood Intermediate School, and Shorewood High School. “Their educational experience in Shorewood was so exceptional that even when they’ve gone on to or through college, they hold dear so much of that learning,” May says. In addition to donating the space for Swing in the early years, Lakefront Brewery continues to donate a beer basket and brewery tour every year. 

May is also an accomplished painter and donates her artwork to the annual Swing auction. Diane Jakubowski was the lucky bidder to win two of May’s paintings last year, and says “The main reason we participate in the SEED auction, even though our youngest graduated from SHS, is to show appreciation for all of the excellent educational benefits gained by the extra funding. Our daughter’s experiences were completely formative in what she is doing today in college, and we are grateful. Of course, sharing in the exchange of auction experiences and goodies is fun too!” Diane and her husband Brian donate a pair of Milwaukee Brewers tickets to the Swing auction every year, and they also enjoy bidding on other items and experiences. 

May Klisch at her art studio.
May Klisch at her art studio

One year May and Vashti Lozier, a current SEED board member, donated a gourmet 5 course dinner party for 10 winning bidders that was accompanied by Lakefront beer pairings and held at Vashti and husband Luke’s home. Vashti remembers the meal was based on May’s life growing up in Singapore, attending college in Hawaii, taking a job in California, then moving to Wisconsin. May says the party was her most memorable auction donation because it “involved my cooking, my husband’s beer expertise, working with Vashti and Luke Lozier to pull it off, and then sitting down to get to know other parents who had pooled their resources to bid for the item. It was genuinely a great time for all, outside of the dishes that piled up for poor Vashti and Luke to manage!”

Gourmet eats and treats have been some of the most popular auction donations over the years, and Joy Peot-Shields’ yearly donation of Homemade Pie of the Month is no exception. “I’m a bit of a pie freak,” Joy says. “I love baking them, all types savory and sweet. I love sharing my passion. I’m pretty certain all my auction recipients have been happy with the results and had their yen for pies satiated!” Karen Maierle concurs, she has won Joy’s pies two years in a row and intends to win again this year, despite stiff bidding competition. “I love Joy’s pies!” she exclaims. “I believe last year they were both chocolate. Decadent chocolate. Wait. One might have been banana cream… I try to bid on a lot of stuff but really, the pies are my favorite,” Karen says.

Just a few of the gourmet pies in Joy Peot-Shields’ baking repertoire.
Just a few of the gourmet pies in Joy Peot-Shields’ baking repertoire

Joy lives on the east side of Milwaukee, and two of her three children attend Shorewood schools through open enrollment. She began supporting Swing with Shorewood over a decade ago by “organizing my east side neighbors who also had children open enrolled in the Shorewood district. For quite a few years we donated a Southwest Airline travel certificate along with a piece of luggage. A bit of a nod to the fact that we were all ‘travelers’ to the district!” Joy has even recruited her sister, jewelry designer Lea Peot, who doesn’t live in the area to donate to Swing auctions. “She initially donated in honor of the boys’ participation in the Shorewood Schools. Of course I asked her because I love her jewelry and knew it would be a wonderful addition to the auction offerings. As the years have gone by, she has participated in both the Booster Club Holiday Art and Craft show (she loves the help she gets from all the Shorewood student athletes with setup and hauling) as well as the Shorewood Women’s Club Wearable Art show. She’s met many new friends and patrons while presenting her jewelry in these venues and donates to SEED to show her appreciation for the support her Shorewood clients have shown her over the years,” Joy says.

Vashti Lozier has managed the Swing auction since 2011, and recalls that for many years, “the auction was a huge in-person event with hundreds of items that we hauled into the lower level of Discovery World with a fleet of 6 to 8 minivans the morning of the event. Setup of the auction items was a full day event for a team of volunteers. We typically brought our dresses and makeup with us and got ready in the public bathroom at Discovery World because there wasn’t time to go home and change!” Once the auction moved online in 2014, things became a little more manageable for SEED volunteers. Focus turned toward donations of experiences like travel, event tickets, services, parties, and gift cards to local establishments rather than physical items, though many items are still donated and much appreciated.

Vashti recalls some memorable Teacher Time donations such as Sarah Kopplin’s day in Chicago, Dom Newman’s cooking classes before school or over lunchtime, and Principal Kirk Juffer singing happy birthday in a gorilla costume to a student during class. “One year, the Lake Bluff PTO offered an overnight for a group of families in the school including movies, sleeping in the gym, and snacks and activities in the cafetorium.”

One of the most heartfelt donations was in 2016, when beloved Atwater crossing guard Betsy Barr donated her vast collection of silly hats to the Swing auction just weeks before she passed away of cancer. Ann-Marie Schmitt was the Atwater PTO President at the time, and helped Betsy label and catalog all of her hats. “She had a hat for every occasion really, every holiday, every kind of weather. If it was cold she would put on a penguin hat. Or a heart hat for Valentine’s Day, she even had a Dr. Seuss hat,” Ann-Marie says. “Betsy was cleaning her house because she knew she was going to die, and asked ‘What do I do with all of these hats?’ I went to her house and we sorted all of the hats. We spent the whole afternoon together talking and reminiscing and had a few laughs,” Ann-Marie remembers fondly. “Betsy was a character, a tell-it-like-it-is person, very caring and straightforward. The kids loved her.”

Crossing guard Betsy Barr and her incredible hat collection.
Crossing guard Betsy Barr and her incredible hat collection

Catie Hawi was the winning bidder of Betsy’s hat collection, and says “I wanted to bid because I got to know her and talk to her at school and I wanted to honor her memory by bidding on something that was dear to her.” Catie kept one hat as a souvenir and ended up donating the collection so they would take on a new life elsewhere. “She was a genuine person and she sincerely cared. That is I think, what made her special,” says Catie.

In past years, Swing has also given the individual schools an opportunity to get a “Wish List” item or project funded through donors. This Wish List item is something the school chooses that will benefit the students in their building. SIS and SHS will both have a Wish List item that you can donate to through the auction site this year. SIS is requesting a new kiln for the art department, as their current one is over 20 years old and needs replacing. The kiln has been an important piece of equipment in the arts program at SIS. It has been utilized every year to complete projects, such as the Best Buddies Mug Fundraiser, and allows students the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in sculpture, an essential component in the visual arts curriculum. An anonymous donor has offered to match your donation until the final cost of this item has been funded. 

SIS ceramics projects shown inside a kiln, the Best Buddies Mug Fundraiser, and more.
SIS ceramics projects shown inside a kiln, the Best Buddies Mug Fundraiser, and more

Shorewood High School principal Tim Kenney has asked for funds to help the Youth Rising Up student group expand upon the experiences and programs they offer at SHS, thus enriching the whole student body. You can learn more about Youth Rising Up in our in depth SEED Story about the group and its incredible mentors. The funds collected through Swing will go towards booking guest motivational speakers, sponsoring a school-wide all inclusive EthnicFest, and purchasing high quality filming equipment. The filming equipment will serve multiple purposes such as making more videos in the digital space to share information from YRU, teach students technical knowledge, and provide filming/photo services to different clubs in school. If you just want to give to a good cause and don’t desire to take something home, please consider donating to either or both of these impactful Wish List items.

SHS Youth Rising Up students’ mentorship program with SIS students of color.
SHS Youth Rising Up students’ mentorship program with SIS students of color

SEED is honored to have a small part in facilitating connections like these between community members, all in the name of supporting our schools. We hope you will take the opportunity to participate in the latest evolution of Swing with Shorewood by attending Swing Meets Showcase and bidding on our online auction. You can also support SEED’s efforts by making a donation today.

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