In 1928, John H. Harris, the manager of the Sheridan Square Theatre in Pittsburgh, found a month-old baby girl abandoned in one of the theater chairs with a note asking someone to take care of her. He took her in, dedicated his social club—the Variety Club—to underwriting her support and education, and named her Catherine Variety Sheridan. Harris’s efforts drew support from other entertainers internationally, who joined together to provide aid to disadvantaged youth and children with disabilities. Today, Variety – The Children’s Charity has chapters in 14 countries and 10,000 members and works to enrich the lives of children around the world.
The Wisconsin chapter was started in 1935 by businessmen with ties to show business, and it assists children with disabilities through three programs. The Freedom Program funds durable medical equipment to grant youth greater mobility, and the Caring for Kids program donates medical equipment and therapeutic devices to local clinics and hospitals. The Future Kids program provides educational experiences for young people, including trips to museums, sporting events, and shows.
At Healing Forest Studio, founder and former university art professor Lori Slocomb blends multiple artistic styles into one unique, accessible curriculum. Having lived in both New York and L.A., Lori has experienced first-hand the artistic differences that separate the coasts. She aspires to bridge that gap by sharing both conceptual and technical schools of thought with her students, as she and her team of instructors join forces to offer professional, college-grade drawing and painting classes. Lori also takes pride in the open atmosphere and positive energy of her studio, which makes beginner-level and veteran artists alike feel welcome.
Amid Centercourt’s 14,000-square-foot hardwood haven, people entertain their eyeballs with 20 flat-screen TVs, their ears with frequent live music, and their taste buds with a hearty spread of pub grub and brews. Centercourt fields a full team of wines and spirits, in addition to the 16 on-tap offerings and 30+ bottled beers awaiting their release. Sports enthusiasts can create an edible lineup with build-your-own sandwiches or Hobo fries (spud spears smothered in cheese and beef gravy; $4.95)—an appetizer that can be customized with bacon, chicken, or steak (up to $3.95 each). For a meal as light as a globetrotting eccentric’s hot air balloon, there are salads ($3.95–$9.95) and a roasted-vegetable wrap ($8.95).
Parties are always better with friends—especially brand-new ones. In nine cities throughout the US, My Drink On creates occasions for people to meet, mingle, safely imbibe, and responsibly return their pint glasses to the table in one piece. Pub crawls and whiskey tastings, holiday and yacht parties, private fetes and trolley crawls—the group works to create and promote festive, fun events. The fun isn't the only draw, however; many of its parties also raise money for a designated local charity.
Elite Sports Club started as an all-tennis facility, but over the years has netted a larger variety of fitness activities and services to create multi-purpose, family-oriented clubs. Elite's large facilities house high-end cardio and weight equipment such as LifeFitness, Cybex, Paramount, Matrix, Star Trac, and Precor machines, basketball/sport courts, and Pilates and GRAVITY studios (GRAVITY training encourages organic movement and exercise by using the body’s own weight as resistance). Elite's classes and group training vary by club location, but include Pilates, Body Blitz Boot Camp, Women on Weights, triathlon training, and a miscellany of junior fitness classes to teach youngsters the importance of health, nutrition, and not acting their shoe size. All locations grant their members free tennis-court time from June through August, and all can provide daycare services.
Every night the notes of renowned jazz, blues, and R&B performers echo through the glimmering walls of 88 Keys Piano Martini Lounge, where martinis and small plates meet beneath mood-setting blue lights in West Allis’s downtown stretch. The relaxed spot was conceived by co-owners Greg Barczak and Suzy Ball who, as West Allis Now reporter Mark Schaaf notes, “hope the city is turning a corner and want to make something more of the downtown” by attracting a younger crowd and lending the area an intimate, upscale nightlife option.
Inside the low-lit lounge, glass windows open and close to bathe guests and performers in a cooling breeze. Artwork and Wisconsin gangster memorabilia, including John Dillinger photographs and high-school report cards, beam down upon pots of fondue and gourmet pizzas. Behind the glowing bar, master mixologists blend a lengthy list of 28 specialty martinis and fill glasses with wine and beer.