On a warm August evening last summer, beneath twinkling lights, candlelit torches, and a collection of handcrafted dream catchers strung overhead, hundreds gathered at Clipper Mill Pool to support the recovery of Shine Creative co-founder Melissa Kirby—a pioneering presence in Baltimore’s creative community who suffered multiple brain stem strokes after a sudden collapse two years ago.
“We wanted it to be really free-spirited and bohemian,” Kirby’s business partner and close friend Jamie Campbell says of the event. “We ended up selling all of the dream catchers at the end of the night and the money went to Melissa. She still has one of them hanging in her room.”
Now, in an effort to help cover the costs Kirby’s of ongoing medical care, her friends and family are hosting another Love + Light for Melissa fundraiser at the pool on Saturday, July 30 at 7 p.m.
This year, the benefit will feature an expanded food lineup with eats and drinks from Woodberry Kitchen, The Local Oyster, Tapas Teatro, Clavel, Hersh’s, The Corner Pantry, and Union Craft Brewing, as well as newbies like Gunther & Co., Cosima, Colette, and Waverly Brewing Company. Live entertainment will be provided by DJ Impulse and a silent auction will showcase local artwork, vacation homes, and gift certificates to various restaurants and salons.
Designed by event planner Stephanie Bradshaw, last summer’s “Illuminate” theme was meant to reflect Kirby’s bright spirit. Though Bradshaw is keeping her plans for the decor under tight wraps this year, Campbell says that the concept will be elevation.
“It feels like each year the event becomes much bigger,” she says. “So elevate is a word that captures, not only what’s happening with the event itself, but with Melissa. She’s ready to fly. She’s ready to be elevated to the next phase, the next level, the next push.”
The collapse left Kirby without the ability to move or speak, and while the cause of the strokes is still unknown, she continues to soldier on, receiving acute care at a facility in Columbia. Campbell says that Kirby is making significant progress, increasing her food intake, showing strides in speech therapy, and gradually improving mobility.
“She’s a fighter,” Campbell says. “I’ve read so many stories about people who feel like they just can’t do it anymore. But she wakes up every day and just keeps going.”
Last summer’s benefit raised nearly $25,000 for Kirby’s medical trust. Campbell is hoping to surpass that mark this year, and says that a large portion of the event proceeds will go toward purchasing an accessible vehicle to eliminate the need for costly private transportation services.
A significant milestone in Kirby’s recovery occurred earlier this summer, when she joined her husband, Matt, and children, Colette and Kingston, in Ocean City over Fourth of July weekend.
“That was huge for them,” Campbell says. “It was challenging, but Missy is such a summer creature. She loves the heat and the beach, so the fact that she could be there will them was so worthwhile.”
A trailblazer in the local creative community, Kirby is known for founding forward-thinking Hampden boutique Shine Collective in 2002. After the recession, she closed the store and partnered with Campbell and her husband Drury Bynum to start Clipper Mill video production studio Shine Creative.
Campbell says that the outpouring of support has been overwhelming, and that the Love + Light events have been a great representation of the tight-knit creative community that Kirby loves being a part of.
“The first year we put this together, I was just reaching out to everyone I knew to see if they’d be interested in participating,” Campbell says. “The fact that everyone said yes, without any hesitation, really defines the community.”
Donations to Kirby’s recovery fund can be made here.