Back in 2012, two great passions of mine were ignited by a single interview.
Helping the underprivileged reach success the same way he did
Remembering that the founders of the United States laid the groundwork for that kind of success story
I found both topics to be incredibly inspirational, and the American in me burst with pride. That inspiration led me to use my skills to carry on the American story. I opened up an online shop for quality American-made furnishings—Dixie & Grace.
One of the featured items on Dixie & Grace is a hand-engraved Declaration of Independence made by José-María Cundin, a wonderful artist and friend of mine, since the early 1990s.
Little did I know, my story with the Declaration would come full circle with the man that inspired it: Dr. Ben Carson.
Carson Scholars: The Night My Dreams Collided
It took over a year to find a "master framer" for José-María's Declaration facsimile; I needed someone who understood decorative history and was a true "artist." I found the right craftsman in Marcelo Bavaro, owner of Quebracho Inc, whose frame did justice to the grand significance of the document.
Fast forward to 2014, when a dear friend on the Carson Scholars Committee asked if I would like to participate in the 2015 Paley-Carson Black Tie Gala.
I said yes, of course. I'm very passionate about Carson Scholars’ "Reading Rooms," which encourage inner-city children to "think big." I wanted to help the effort to place Reading Rooms in low-income neighborhoods throughout the country. But for some reason, everything went wrong for me as the event drew near.
The $6,000.00 frame surrounding the beautiful engraving of the Declaration arrived the week before the event with damage during shipment. We rebuilt the damaged crate and then the entire frame was shipped back to Brooklyn, where the gilders worked, around the clock, to re-gild the 23kt gold leaf, a process that normally takes 3-4 weeks. The framer was amazingly kind to do this.
Then, more disaster: the "re-gilded" frame got lost in the shuffle of delivery. I didn’t have the framed work of art that was supposed to be in the live auction that evening.
My husband headed to FedEx in his tux and somehow found the frame. In a mad dash to, The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, we arrived at the preview party a few minutes before it started. Then, just as the art was set on the easel, Ben Carson walked in with his wife, Candy.
Dr Ben Carson with Paul & Sara Fattori at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach holding the hand-engraved facsimile of the Declaration of Independence by José-María Cundin. Federal Period frame hand-gilded in 23 Karat gold leaf by Marcelo Bavaro.
They stood with us as they talked about the sacrifices made by those who signed the document before us, and we marveled at the fact that many Americans do not know the rich history and America's fundamental freedoms that are enshrined in these written words.
At that moment, it all clicked. The Declaration of Independence on display was a beautiful symbol for what Carson Scholars aimed to do. The “Land of Opportunity” had been established by its words, and now children were experiencing its fruits.
It was almost as if, for just that night, there were only two words on the Declaration of Independence: “Think big.”
A Living Hope
The end of the story is that the Declaration was bought by a young mother, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution who is extremely passionate about America’s roots. It was a lovely picture of an old hope being translated to a new generation that will desperately need it.