‘Life Without Limits’ Gala Touches Hearts

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Joining me at the United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County's "Life Without Limits Gala" were Impact Award honorees Dennis Kuhl, Angels Baseball Chairman, Amanda Fowler, representing Edwards Lifesciences, and Dr. Michael Muhonen, CHOC Children's Director of Neurosurgery

Joining me at the United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County’s “Life Without Limits” gala were Impact Award honorees Dennis Kuhl, Angels Baseball Chairman, Amanda Fowler, representing Edwards Lifesciences as its Executive Director of Global Corporate Giving, and Dr. Michael Muhonen, CHOC Children’s Director of Neurosurgery

My heart was touched by Reo Kobayashi and Brianna Pievac when they greeted me at the United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County’s “Life Without Limits Gala.” They were welcoming the 370 guests attending the black and white-themed soiree at the Island Hotel, and their big smiles, while dressed in their party finery, told you what the fundraiser was all about (see photo).  For 60 years, UCP-OC has been serving children with a wide array of disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, Down syndrome, and developmental delays. The gala, established six years ago, has raised more than $2.3 million, which is pretty impressive. Add $437,000 to that figure, which was what was netted for the evening, and that’s close to $3 million in seven years.

The gala attracts community leaders and corporate partners who are passionate about the cause. Past honorees include Michael Hayde, Jim Mazzo, Julia and George Argyros and David Pyott. This year’s benefit kept standards high by honoring Angels Baseball Chairman, Dennis Kuhl, a CHOC Children’s Hospital pediatric neurosurgeon and Director of its Neurosurgery Division, Dr. Michael Muhonen, and Edwards Lifesciences. 

Following a tempting silent auction and reception in the ballroom’s foyer, guests gathered in the ballroom for dinner and the awards. Master of ceremonies Tim Brundige warmly welcomed everyone and thanked the gala sponsors, including top sponsors The Allergan Foundation and the Argyros Family Foundation, for their generosity. UCP-OC board member Matthew Maletta introduced the first honoree, his friend, Dennis Kuhl, saying, “Dennis’ impact on children with disabilities in our community is great.” The Chris and Rebecca Arguon family presented Kuhl with the award, in appreciation for the help their daughter Ruby has received at the Bud Kuhl Therapy Room at UCP-OC, named for Dennis’ late father. It was a picture-perfect moment as UCP-OC recipient Azalea played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the keyboard to honor Dennis as all the UCP kids attending gathered on the dance floor in red Angels t-shirts. Deeply moved, Kuhl said, “It is such a privilege for me to give back to these kids.”

Dr. Mulhonen’s presentation included testimonials by four of his patients. Sarah Hatch thanked Mulhonen for implanting her with the first Baclofen Pump, which she said enabled her to walk and even run within six weeks of surgery. Paris Taylor’s father spoke for her, concluding with Paris saying, “I love you, Dr. Mulhonen.” Sydney Wyma said, “Thanks to you, Dr. Mulhonen, I have been able to realize my passion of playing the violin,” while Juneau Resnick, who said she had had 10 brain surgeries performed by Dr. Mulhonen, thanked him for performing her most recent one. OCP-OC President/CEO Deborah Levy presented Mulhonen with the award, to which Mulhonen responded, “The CP population is my extended family – my ‘angels of the night,’ according to my wife. I am honored to have four angels on stage with me tonight. So, to my angels,” he said, “thank you for your inspirational stories and thank you for the privilege of caring for you.” As a surprise gift to Mulhonen, Juneau sang a beautiful rendition of “The Rose” (see her photo performing).

Gala co-chairs Jeannette Wistner and Blair Minnis presented the Corporate Impact Award to Edwards Lifesciences, the global leader in the science of heart valves and critical care monitoring, which supports the UCP-OC Early Intervention Program. Receiving the award was John McGrath, Ph.D., who is Edwards’ Corporate Vice President of Quality, Regulatory, Clinical. On stage with McGrath was Chandra Gibson and her daughter Leilani, who we we were told via video she had had her first heart surgery at age nine months and through UCP-OC’s physical therapy programs was making great strides (see mother/daughter photo). McGrath said that Leilani was the recipient of one of its heart valves. “We at Edwards Lifesciences see the incredible work United Cerebral Palsy, Orange County, does,” McGrath said, “and we are proud to support its vision.”

The live auction, overseen by auctioneer Bill Menish, featured a meet & greet with Sarah McLaughlan, golf at Pelican Hill with Dennis Kuhl and Angels great Chuck Finley, a hitting lesson with another Angels great Rod Carew, plus getaways to Lake Tahoe, Hawaii and Chicago. Tickets to a Ducks vs. Kings playoff game that same week sold for $4,000 to an avid hockey fan. The only stipulation was that you be a Ducks fan!

In his closing remarks, Brundige asked that the gala committee, board of directors, staff, and volunteers step onto the dance floor for a collective toast for their commitment to children with disabilities in Orange County. I have to say that was a very clever way to pack the dance floor for the gala’s next phase – dancing to the California Band. It was not wasted! Proceeds benefited UCP-OC’s six major service areas: early intervention, therapy, respite care, inclusive childcare, recreation program, and family support.

Aside: Hats off to the Island’s chef and his staff – dinner was really delicious with sautéed prawns on squash blossom risotto, traditional wedge salad, seared filet and herb crusted Chilean sea bass, and a to-die-for s’more pudding cake with salted ice cream topped with house made marshmallow and graham cracker crisp. Yum!!

Selected photos by Don Didier

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‘Puttin’ on the Glitz’ Great Fun!

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Joining me at the PBS SoCal "Puttin' on the Glitz" gala at The Hangar at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa was legendary music icon Peter Asher from from famed Peter and Gordon duo in the early '60s

Joining me at PBS SoCal’s “Puttin’ on the Glitz” gala at The Hangar at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa was legendary music icon Peter Asher

The 2014 PBS SoCal Gala, “Puttin’ on the Glitz,’ was an evening of Old Hollywood glamour. From the craft cocktail reception that featured photo opts next to vintage Rolls Royces and the Swing Dolls entertaining with such ’40s hits as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers featured dancing in one of their black and white film classics as you entered The Hangar at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, where the gala was held. The Hangar was transformed with its walls draped in red and crystal chandeliers sparkling overhead. The shimmering red lame table tops with floating gardenias in huge glass bowl centerpieces only enhanced the elegant theme. Gala co-chair Kelly Mazzo said of the vintage affair, “I want tonight to be fun,” and it was!

Among the 380 guests was gala committee member Pame Schmider, divinely dressed in an elegant gown, complete with fur wrap, ropes of pearls and the must-have cigarette holder, who had her table guests served Shirley Temples laced with vodka, of course! Schmider was definitely clued in on the “fun” part of the evening! Brad and Janice Hall also took the invitation’s suggestion of wearing old Hollywood glamour attire, with Brad looked dashing in top hat, white tie and tails and Janice in a vintage gown and jewels. I sat at the Charles Laughton table, as each of the tables were named after a Hollywood greats from the past, and I loved it that Hollywood movies from the ’30s were shown during dinner.

PBS’ Antiques Roadshow’s host Mark Walberg, serving as master of ceremonies, extolled PBS for its educational focus, with 1.2 million students participating in its offerings, he said, as well as claiming, “PBS is the most watched station for the arts.” PBS SoCal Board of Trustees President Jim McCluney announced that there are more than 16 million viewers of PBS broadcasts in Southern California – an impressive number! Emmy Award-winning journalist Elizabeth Espinosa and former host of PBS’ SoCal Insider Rick Reiff announced their new collaboration as co-hosts of the new PBS SoCal show “Studio SoCal” and then recognized the PBS SoCal 2013 Community Champions. Acknowledged as individuals and/or organizations for their extraordinary work in the community included Lise Luttgens (Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles), Faye Washington (YWCA of Greater Los Angeles), Jose Ramos (Welcome Home to Vietnam Veterans), Deborah Yim (Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice), Jane Pisano (Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County), The Joyful Child Foundation (represented by Founding Director Erin Runnion), Reverend Michael Mata (for his work designing ministries and community programs), Barbara Carrasco and Harry Gamboa, Jr. (for their work as artists), and Blaire Baron Larsen and Julia Walker Wyson (Los Angeles Drama Club).

The big gala honors were reserved for legendary music industry icon Peter Asher and The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, which were presented by PBS SoCal’s President/CEO Mel Rogers. Asher, founder of the popular British Invasion duo Peter and Gordon, became the first head of The Beatles’ Apple Records label, where he signed a then-unknown James Taylor (Taylor congratulated his “old pal” via video). Later, leading a successful career as a manager and record producer, Asher was involved in the careers of such standouts as Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, Carole King, Bonnie Raitt, Cher, Diana Ross, and Neil Diamond. Rogers said in his introduction, “Peter knew anyone who rocked and anyone who mattered.” The recipient of three Grammy Awards, Asher, in accepting the honor, lauded PBS, saying, “I’ve been a PBS subscriber for years. Congratulations!”

Established in 2008, The Grammy Museum is a nonprofit educational and interactive museum, which engages children and adults through permanent and special exhibits and hands-on educational programs. Rogers said of the museum, “It is dedicated to connecting people with the power of music.” Museum Director Robert Santelli accepted the honor, saying, “We transform peoples’ lives and connect with the great American culture in common with PBS.”

Auctioneer extraordinaire Letitia Frye did her magic in the live auction, which saw items like an evening with Peter Asher for 20 guests at Bluewater Grill in Tustin sell twice – at $10,000 a pop. Also offered was an evening for eight guests with PBS Newshour’s Gwen Hill with dinner at the Island Hotel’s Oak Grill ($9,000), an evening for eight guests with CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg with dinner by Chef Justin Davis of South Coast Kitchen ($7,500) and an evening for eight guests with Hollywood and Disney animation producer Don Hahn with dinner in Disneyland Hotel’s Blue Sky Suite ($12,500).

The affair revved into high gear when the live band, JT & Friends (thanks to premier sponsors John and Mary Tu), offered its rock ‘n’ roll and pop fare to pack the dance floor. First up was Asher himself, guitar in hand, to sing Peter and Gordon’s #1 smash hit, “A World Without Love,” written for them by Paul Mc Cartney and celebrating 50 years, as it was released in 1964. Next, Asher performed the Buddy Holly hit that Peter and Gordon recorded called “True Love Ways,” on stage with the late Gordon Waller on video. John Tu’s band (he’s the stoic drummer) rocked the spacious room with hit after hit, including the music of a talented foursome representing the Jersey Boys (i.e. Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons) singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” Rod Stewart look-and-sound-alike dished out some of his signature hits as the night rolled on, as cigars and cognac were offered alfresco.

Guests departed with a generous bag of Arbonne International makeup and skin care products for both men and women, and there was another gift bag in the car with Royal Red Velvet Cupcakes, a PBS license holder and two tickets to The Grammy Museum.

Kudos are due gala co-chairs Kelly and Jim Mazzo and Ardelle St.George and Don Carnegie for heading up the fun affair, which netted $771,000 to benefit countless at-risk kids, teens and prospective graduates through PBS SoCal’s American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative to help students stay on the path to graduation and future success.

Fun Aside: I ran into Patricia Ward Kelly, the widow of the late, great dancing icon Gene Kelly. My Old Hollywood Glamour experience was complete!

Selected photos by Craig Mathew

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Saddleback Medical Center Gala Inspires!

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Joining me at the Saddleback Memorial Foundation's "A Celebration of Hope" gala was it chair Bebe Shaddock

Joining me at the Saddleback Memorial Foundation’s “A Celebration of Hope” gala was its chair Bebe Shaddock

Bebe Shaddock is an inspiration! She is a beautiful lady who has a passion for Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. Having served as past chairman of the Saddleback Memorial Foundation, she chaired its annual spring gala, “A Celebration of Hope,” in May at The Ritz-Carlton Resort in Dana Point. Bebe, having been a patient herself at the hospital and having lost her dear husband there, says, “My husband was in the best of hands. I have friends whose lives have been saved there. I feel the hospital is a safe place, both physically and emotionally.”

The sold-out gala, attended by nearly 500 people, included physicians, corporate sponsors, the senior leadership of both the medical center and foundation, and many grateful patients and their families. The celebratory affair toasted the opening of Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s MemorialCare Cancer Institute, which just opened this past Saturday, to which SMMC’s CEO Steve Geidt said, “It will move us to the next generation of cancer services.” Geidt thanked the many generous supporters who made the cancer institute a reality, in particular, Laguna Woods resident and longtime hospital supporter Gary Damsker for his seven-figure donation in naming the Damsker Family Pavillion.

The live auction, led by masterful auctioneer Zach Krone, featured some hot items, among them the First Car at Valet, which sold twice to Diane and Dwight Devlin and Aileen and Kevin Grant (Aileen is a SMF board member). The VIP Parking also saw two takers at $3,250 each. The winners, who were allowed a designated parking spot in front of the hospital’s main lobby for one year with free car washes, included Sea View Pediatric Medical Associates’ Dr. Mary Ann Wilkinson and Dr. Mary O’Toole, who is with Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group and was a gala committee member. But, the piece de resistance, as far as I was concerned, was the Pies You Can’t Buy item. It seems Steve Geidt is a fabulous pie maker and has offered a pie a month for one year at previous galas. The popular offering sold twice to Dr. William and Cheri Wallace (Dr. Wallace is with South Orange County Surgical Medical Group) and Pam and Peter Pellizzon (Peter is with Hollencrest Capital Management). Both couples paid $3,000 for the pies!

During the “Gifts from the Heart” portion of the evening, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s Chaplain Anette Rihovsky spoke about the compassionate care patients receive at SMMC by the physicians and nursing staff. She shared her personal experiences dealing with cancer through her aunt’s passing at a young age and her husband George’s bout with it. Thankfully in remission, she said George, who was a cancer patient at SMMC, was treated with dignity and respect.

Monies raised in the Fund-A-Need portion of the evening were designated for the cancer institute’s outdoor healing Garden of Hope, which will provide a respite from the stress of cancer for patients and their families. More than $60,000 was raised towards the garden, which is being designed and landscaped by Roger’s Gardens, represented by Karin and Barry Fulton and Laura and Chuck Belville at the gala.

Others making remarks included Saddleback Memorial Foundation President Cecilia Belew and its Board of Director Chair Bill Phillips. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the heartfelt video, “A Celebration of Hope,” which was shown early on in the evening. It featured the personal journeys of five grateful cancer patients, plus one granddaughter of a patient, and touched hearts. Those highlighted included Josh Snyder (age 40, bladder cancer), Dr. Marc Winter (age 55, breast cancer), Barbara Werth (age 48, breast cancer), David Chadwich (age 59, lung cancer), Cheryl Tempel (age 60, ovarian cancer), and Dr. Leila Rasouli (the granddaughter whose grandmother Alice was cared for at SMMC).

The Derek Bordeaux Band was the perfect finale for the inspiring evening, and the packed dance floor proved it. The gala netted $230,000 for the new MemorialCare Cancer Institute. Philllips announced next year’s gala date at The Ritz-Carlton: Saturday, April 25, 2015. Bebe was all smiles!

For the Record: Saddleback Memorial Medical Center is a member of the MemorialCare Health System and was named Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News & World Report for the past three years. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System is comprised of five top hospitals: Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial in Fountain Valley, and Saddleback Memorial in Laguna Hills and San Clemente.

Selected photos by Paul Gero

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Farewell to an Amazing Man!

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Joining me at the Philharmonic Society of Orange County's "60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner" honoring its beloved President/Artistic Director Dean Corey (pictured)

Joining me at the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s “60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner” honoring its beloved President and Artistic Director Dean Corey (pictured)

I know a lot has been written and voiced in the past year about the departure of the beloved leader of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. Dean Corey was the “Man for all Seasons” at the Philharmonic for 21 glorious years. He steered the nonprofit through some perilous times (that goes without saying in the nonprofit arts world!) but mostly just putting the organization on the map for hosting the world’s top conductors, orchestras, solo artists, chamber groups, and choral ensembles. I can’t thank him enough for that. Having a degree in music myself and, thus an appreciation for experiencing the finest musical performances, it was a terrific 21 years!

After all the accolades, the Philharmonic saluted Dean one last time at its “60th Anniversary Celebration Dinner” with a tribute to him as its President and Artistic Director extraordinaire. Held at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach, the evening drew 194 guests, including some of Dean’s performing arts friends – Irvine Barclay’s Doug Rankin, Segerstrom Center’s Terry Dwyer, Baroque Music Festival’s Burton Karson, past Segerstrom Center President Jerry Mandel, and Chapman’s Musco Center for the Arts’ William Hall. I even spotted the Philharmonic Society’s second Executive Director Erich Vollmer, who preceded Dean.

Philharmonic Society Board Chairman/CEO Noel Hamilton welcomed everyone and announced that the $1 million challenge grant offered by a generous anonymous friend of the Philharmonic Society a year ago had been met and that a new matching challenge grant of $250,000 was being provided by Jim and Catherine Emmi to continue the 60th anniversary gifts. The Emmis were presented medals welcoming them into the Society’s esteemed group of Esterhazy Patrons. Hamilton then announced that the Society was establishing a fund in Dean’s honor called the Dean Corey Fund for Artistic Excellence and Innovation that will support future program growth.

Sabra Bordas, the Philharmonic Society’s immediate past board chairman, recognized event chair Kathy Hamilton and her committee for orchestrating the evening with its springtime in Paris theme, in tribute to Dean and Kaly’s retirement destination in a little village in the south of France. The French-themed dinner with escargot and a beef tenderloin entree topped with Bearnaise and red wine sauces was delicious, and Youngsong Martin’s Wildflower Linen’s provided elegant green silk tables covers topped with silver sequined overlays, white chiffon/green ribboned chair covers and purple, pink and white floral centerpieces. It was a lovely ballroom!

In lieu of the 60th anniversary, Bordas asked the following to stand – past board of director chairs, past presidents of the 800-member strong Volunteer Committees, current board of directors members, the Esterhazy Patrons, and concert series sponsors, which included the Segerstrom Foundation, Shanbrom Family Foundation, Sam Ersan, and the Donna L. Kendall Classic Series. And, in conclusion, Bordas thanked the Golden Baton group of donors, “who consistently support the Society,” she said.

Preceding a black and white 60th Anniversary Video showcasing the Philharmonic Society’s history, Hamilton opined on the Society’s beginnings in 1954, “Orange County boasted some of the fastest growing cities in the nation, but we still didn’t have a freeway. Walt Disney was still planning his Magic Kingdom, From Here to Eternity won the Oscar for Best Picture, and a group of music-loving Orange county citizens gathered in Elaine Redfield’s living room to lay the groundwork for the Philharmonic Society.” The group firmly believed that Orange County citizens needn’t have to depend on Los Angeles-based cultural organizations for their artistic needs but that the best could be offered here. Within its first decade, according to Hamilton, the Society transitioned from being an orchestra to a presenting organization and within two years of its founding, dedicated committees of volunteers sprang up to support the the Society’s youth music programs, which continue today to educate and enlighten 150,000 students annually.

Following Grammy-nominated French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s endearing performance of Chopin nocturnes, a Brahms intermezzo and a special request from Dean for Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune,” three people offered tributes to Dean. Judith Jelinek, President of the Committees when Dean arrived in 1993, spoke for all the volunteer committee members when she said, “Thanks for the memories.” Mitzi Tonai, who served as the Society’s Director of Development for 18 of Dean’s 21 years, spoke for the staff when she said, “We admired your creative mind, even when you deviated from the agendas, and loved your great sense of humor and endless ‘Deanerisms.’ Your infectious laugh always lifted our spirits.” Don Evarts, past board president, said, “Dean, you have put us on the international map and have enriched our lives and been an inspiration to all of us.”

Hamilton and Bordas presented Dean with the Society’s greatest honor, the Golden Baton Award, after which Dean recognized the Philharmonic Society of Orange County staff, one by one, and then had some advice for the future of the Society and classical music in general. “Give your new president a lot of support and make him feel welcome, as you did to me 21 years ago,” he said. “Keep the quality high,” he said, regarding the musical presentations, the program for young people and the trust of the ticket buyers and contributors. “And, enthusiastically embrace technology. It is the greatest tool for furthering our mission that has ever come along.” Concluding, Dean said, “Love the music, live the music and pass it on.”

It was left to Hamilton and board member Dave Rosenberg to offer a champagne toast to the revered retiree. “Dean’s wonderful stories and his love of life have made him a delightful leader and companion on this musical journey – whether it’s sharing a meal, a bottle of wine or embarking on a musical adventure in the U.S. or abroad,” Hamilton said. Dave added, “As Michael Levine said of Dean in the introduction of Dean’s book, Beethoven, The Late Great, ‘one day at a performance of Mahler in tuxedo, the next day at a football game in jeans and a ball cap’ – wide grin on his face at both, having the time of his life and making those around him feel welcome and happy and comfortable. Dean is indeed a rare human being and will be missed.”

As I write this, Dean and Kaley have just departed for France and their new life. With the internet making everyone so available these days, we will definitely keep up with them – many in person, since the Coreys have invited any and all to visit them – but, I for one, will miss seeing the man in person with his thatch of white hair and horn-rimmed glasses, always a little askew, and his beautiful dissertations on classical music only he can impart. And, no one can tell a story like Dean! He truly is a bon vivant and raconteur of the highest order! Continue to love life, my friend, and farewell, until we meet again.

Selected photos by Nick Koon

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Neiman Marcus Hosts JDRF’s Dream Guild

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Joining me at the JDRF Dream Guild soiree at Neiman Marcus were, from left, event co-chair Elyse Roberts, Dream Guild outgoing President Analisa Albert and incoming President Pamela Lowry, and event co-chair James Cueva

Joining me at the JDRF Dream Guild soiree at Neiman Marcus were, from left, event co-chair Elyse Roberts, Dream Guild outgoing President Analisa Albert and incoming President Pamela Lowry, and guild member and champagne sponsor James Cueva

Members of The Dream Guild have two things in common: they are fashionistas and they are committed to raising funds to treat and cure Type 1 diabetes. Supporters of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), the support group plans fundraisers throughout the year to do just that. The latest effort was the guild’s Spring Fling Membership Luncheon, hosted by Neiman Marcus in the luxury store’s digs at Fashion Island.

The soiree commenced in the store’s shoe salon on Level One with a champagne reception and the opportunity to try on some of the hottest shoes by name shoe designers in the business. Event chairs Elyse Roberts and Neiman Marcus’ Director of Public Relations Michaele Hall were busy greeting the 90 guests, as was outgoing Dream Guild Board President Analisa Albert and incoming President Pamela Lowry. Following the reception, guests gathered on Level Two for a delicious luncheon (loved the Mariposa popover!!) and 2014 Spring fashion presentation. The tables were exquisite, thanks to Young Martin’s Wildflower Linen table covers and napkins, which were a rich brocade print (see photo). The huge pink cabbage roses and green hydrangeas were the perfect accent. Neiman Marcus Vice President/General Manager Leyla Vokhshoori welcomed everyone, and Albert thanked her board’s efforts for the year in netting more than $120,000 for JDRF. She named all the members present with a Type 1 diabetes connection, which included Toni Berlinger (grandson), Mary Allen (granddaughter), Julie Hellmers (two children), Stacie Brewster (daughter), Elyse Roberts (nephew), Cate Gunn (herself), Beth Bidna (mother), Ann Winthrop (daughter), Carol Crawford (two grandchildren), Anne Grey (husband), and Amy Zaharek (daughter). Winthrop, who is JDRF Board President, said that JDRF is not just “juvenile” anymore. “Fifty percent of those with Type 1 diabetes are adults,” she said.

Michaele Hall, a founding Dream Guild member, commentated the spring fashions as the stylish models strutted their stuff for the elegant crowd. Hall said the trends for spring, according to Neiman Marcus, include the color pink, in all shades – “from blush to anything but shy,” she said. Backpacks are the bag of the season. Artistic prints are a huge influence – from digital and geometric to floral and tribal, and summer booties with open toes, straps and cutouts are de rigueur. Mixing jackets with other looks is big, and a long white shirt is a considered very stylish. Tops and pants are shortened with midriffs bared and short shorts a heavy trend. Denim, from head to toe, is called “rocking the blues,” and stacks of bracelets continue to be a major statement in accessories. And, finally, white with black accents (not black and white) holds forth as a major trend for the season.

The fashionable affair concluded with Julie Hellmer’s mother-in-law, Carol Crawford, giving $10,000 in honor of her grandchildren, who have Type 1 diabetes. The gesture touched hearts. NeimanMarcus1-01 NeimanMarcus2-01 NeimanMarcus3-01 NeimanMarcus4-01 NeimanMarcus5-01NeimanMarcus6-01NeimanMarcus7-01NeimanMarcus8-01NeimanMarcus9-01

Local Soiree Benefits Boys & Girls Club of the Harbor Area

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Joining me at Newport Beach Lifestyle's benefit for Boys & Girls Club of Newport Harbor??? were, from left, """""""", Newport Beach Lifestyle publisher Randy Harding, ??????? and ??????

Joining me at Newport Beach Lifestyle’s benefit for Boys & Girls Club of the Harbor Area  were, from left, the club’s Senior Director of Athletics Brian Dolan, Newport Beach Lifestyle’s Publisher Randy Harding, the club’s Senior Director of Education Angela Gomez, Senior Area Director Nicole DeLoach

Newport Beach Lifestyle magazine, led by Publisher Randy Harding, hosted a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of the Harbor Area recently at a lovely estate in the Harbor Ridge area of Newport Beach. Guests enjoyed an evening filled with hosted wine, food and live music, courtesy of Orange Coast Winery, Wilma’s Patio, The Dessert Lab, and Vaughn Fahie Jazz.

I have to say Fahie played some smokin’ hot jazz on his trusty saxophone, and as to the food, Balboa Island’s Wilma’s Patio’s appetizers were delish, especially the guacamole, while the Dessert Lab’s peanut butter and jelly cheesecake was to die for! Collin Daly, manager of Orange Coast Winery, was busy pouring the tasty vino, and Kendra Scott, the Fashion Island jewelry store, was giving away jewelry! There was nobody happier than Catherine Rudat from Newport Beach, who loved her new Kendra Scott turquoise-colored earrings (see photo).

Bob Bibee, representing Pedego Electric Bikes in Irvine, sparked the interest of guests, as he had a brand new electric bike to show them. Adriana Bernales and Marie Claire Obregon showcased jewelry from their D’Combe Jewelry line, while author Faye Kitariev was representing her new book, “Choreography of Awakening,” which was hot off the press. She said the book shared the world of competitive figure skating and how the elements which create a medal-winning performance can transform your life.

Brian Dolan, Boys & Girls Club of the Harbor Area’s Senior Director of Athletics, was all-smiles as he talked about the club having the distinction of being the oldest Boys & Girls Club in Orange County. He said the club offers youth development services to Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, and surrounding areas. Founded in 1941, the club’s Senior Director of Education Angela Gomez said there are 400 youth who participate in after-school activities and summer camps in their four clubs. “We provide quality youth development services to guide and inspire each individual who walks through our doors,” Senior Area Director Nicole DeLoach said. The silent auction proceeds at the event were given to the harbor area club.

All the while, Newport Beach Lifestyle Publisher Randy Harding and Editor Lysa Christopher were delighted to be hosting a party for such a good cause. Harding said the magazine will be one-year-old in July and represents 20 lifestyle magazines nationwide. “We deliver Newport Beach Lifestyle to 14,000 affluent homes throughout Newport Beach,” he said. It seems the magazine’s advertisers are very happy, as John Giannone, Medical Director at Newport Animal Hospital, attested. “We’re thrilled with the response from our advertising in Newport Beach Lifestyle,” he said.

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Curtis Showers with Humor, Compassion and Inspiration

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Joining me at Hoag's Circle 1000 Founders' Brunch was keynote speaker Jamie Lee Curis

Joining me at Hoag’s 27th Annual Circle 1000 Founders’ Brunch was keynote speaker Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis, the curvy wife of Arnold Schwarengger in True Lies and promoter of Activia yogurt, was the keynote speaker at the 27th Annual Circle 1000 Founders’ Celebration Brunch, benefiting the Hoag Family Cancer Center, held at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach. I expected to see Jamie in her signature short, short hairstyle, but instead, she wore a pink wig. The first thing out of her mouth when she began her talk was the explanation for the wig. She was wearing it to pay tribute to a young girl named Katie Westbrook, who she befriended while the 13-year-old was fighting cancer, a battle she ultimately lost. Jamie asked the family for the wig following her death. “I wanted to bring Katie’s courage and spirit here today,” Curtis said, “because I’m representing every human being fighting for his or her life.”

I’ll go back to her heartwarming speech in a minute, but I wanted to acknowledge Founders’ committee chair Beth Knapp, underwriting chair Tara Shapiro and the 21-member committee, many of them past chairs. This committee helped raise an impressive $930,000 for the Hoag Family Cancer Institute. Knapp introduced Dr. Burt Eisenberg, the new Executive Medical Director of the Institute and read Eisenberg’s achievements, which were exemplary. Hoag is definitely fortunate to have him on its team! She also acknowledged Hoag Hospital President/CEO Robert Braithwaite and Hoag Hospital Foundation President Dr. Flynn Andrizzi. Recognizing who she called Hoag’s “world-renowned” Hoag physicians in attendance, she introduced Dr. Jack Cox, Dr. Aidan Raney, Dr. Douglas Zusman, Dr. Gary Levine, and Dr. Christopher Duma. Knapp continued by thanking the Hoag medical, nursing and administrative staff by saying, “Your commitment and compassion is the core of the exceptional care one expects and receives at Hoag Newport, Hoag Irvine and the Hoag Family Cancer Institute.”

Then came the “goose bump” moment when Knapp asked the 468 guests attending who were cancer survivors, fighters and caregivers to stand. She proceeded to ask those to stand who were cancer-free for five years, 10 years, etc. on up to 25 years. There were many standing. “This is the part of the program that is at the heart of our fundraising efforts,” Knapp said.

Curtis, who spoke next, admitted to being a bit teary-eyed at the importance of those standing. “Life is beautiful, transformational and painful,” she said. “Each of us must accept the things we cannot change – my genetics, my Grandma Helen moving in five years ago – can’t change it!” she added humorously. “The things I can change are my attitude, my mind, my hair, writing children’s books (she has authored 10 books), sobriety.” Curtis summed things up by saying she’s tries to live by two principles in her daily life: “Did I learn to live wisely?” and “Did I love well?”

At the conclusion of Curtis’s talk, Marisha Van Dyke, representing Traditional Jewelers in Fashion Island, presented the award-winning actress with an Ippolita mother-of-pearl and diamond pendant in 18k yellow gold from its “Lollipop” collection.

I’ve been attending this event for more than 20 years, and I do want to mention that it was founded by breast cancer survivor Sandy Sewell. Curtis lauded her in her talk by saying, “Sandy, thank you for having this brilliant idea!” Circle 1000 was launched in 1987 when Sewell gathered friends around her who would contribute $1,000 annually and who would in turn ask their own circle of friends to participate. Today, those humble beginnings have expanded to 1,000 friends, who have collectively raised more than $14.4 million for Hoag. Hear! Hear!

Selected photos by Ketara Gedahn

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Volunteers Extraordinaire Honored!

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Joining me at OneOC's 38th Annual "Spirit of Volunteerism" Awards Luncheon were One OC's CEO Dan McQuaid and Diane Killeen, Manager of Disney's VoluntEARS and Cast Initiatives

Joining me at OneOC’s 38th Annual “Spirit of Volunteerism” Awards Luncheon at Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim were OneOC’s CEO Dan McQuaid and Diane Killeen, Manager of Disneyland Resort’s VoluntEARS and Cast Initiatives

It was a packed ballroom with 1,046 guests at the Disneyland Hotel for OneOC’s 38th Annual “Spirit of Volunteerism” Awards Luncheon. The program zipped along in its two-hour time frame and honored 376 unsung volunteer heroes, including presenting the Giving is Living Award to the exemplary corporate-nonprofit partnership between Habitat for Humanity and The Home Depot.

I particularly enjoyed the music of the six-piece, all-volunteer Smart Jazz Execs Band, who entertained during the reception, and, once inside the ballroom, Montage, a song and dance troupe from Orange County School of the Arts, kicked off the proceedings performing to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I’ll Be There.” OneOC Board of Directors Chair Arnie Pinkston welcomed everyone, noting the “Volunteers Lift Us Up” theme for the occasion and stating that in the past year OneOC had connected nearly 28,000 volunteers in 1.2 million hours of service, providing a $30.1 million value to our community. That’s impressive!

An animated film followed, which showed the value of doing good and the unexpected consequences relating to volunteerism. OneOC’s President/CEO Dan McQuaid, who was portrayed in the delightful film as an old man with glasses and walking stick, came onstage following the film to claim in a humorous way, “I don’t why they cast me as the grumpy old man!” McQuaid introduced the event’s major sponsors: Title Sponsor, Orange County Register; Dynamic Spirit Sponsors: Cox Communications (who also provided the centerpieces – colorful jawbreakers and cake pops in glass cylinders), Disneyland Resort, Wells Fargo, Western Digital; Generous Spirit Sponsors: Walmart, Fluidmaster; Giving Spirit Sponsor: PIMCO Foundation. McQuaid lauded the Register’s partnership in providing coverage of how nonprofits and volunteers brighten our world and noted that the paper would be featuring a 16-page insert in an upcoming issue of all of the Spirit of Volunteerism honorees. McQuaid asked Steve Churm, Vice President of the Orange County Register and Freedom Communications, and the event co-chair, to speak about building community.

Churm said the Register, with expanding to Long Beach, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as well as a newly launched Los Angeles Register, “is building and binding wonderful communities of people, institutions and ideas across Southern California.” He said the paper’s Golden Envelope program, which distributes checks to seven-day subscribers worth up to $100 in advertising to nonprofits of their choice, has gifted more than $12 million in advertising space to Orange County nonprofits in year one of the program. “That’s how we are building communities at the Register,” he concluded.

Churm’s co-chair Sharon Smith, who is a member of OneOC’s board and Vice President of Human Resources for Cox Communications, asked the event committee to stand and be acknowledged and announced that all the honorees were to entered into a drawing to win the Ultimate Disneyland Resort Getaway Package – a night at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, a special dining package and four two-day Disney Park Hopper Passes.

Tim Strauch, OneOC’s COO, announced a new program launched by OneOC called the Service Enterprise Program, which, in partnership with California Volunteers, offers a program for nonprofits to realize greater effectiveness by leveraging the time and talent of volunteers. The 12 nonprofits who completed the program were asked to stand.

The awards were presented to honorees in specified categories, as each honoree’s photo flashed on the screen, and they were asked to stand and be recognized. The categories and presenters were: Arts (presented by Disneyland Resort’s Diane Killeen, Manager of Disney VoluntEARS and Cast Initiatives), Law Enforcement (Angela Antonio, Bank of America’s Sr. VP/Consumer Market Manager and Co-Chair of Orange County Network), Human and Community Service (Mitch Redden, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s Regional Sales Manager), Education (Rose Krupp, Director of Western Digital’s Foundation and Community Relations), Health (Amanda FowlerEdwards Lifesciences’s Executive Director of Global Corporate Giving), Animals and Environment (John Wohlfiel, Fluidmaster’s VP of Human Resources, Corporate Volunteers (Amber Skalsky, PIMCO Foundation’s Program Manager).

OneOC’s Giving is Living Award was presented by the 2013 honoree Mark Lowry, Director of Orange County Food Bank. He stated that the judging committee, comprised of past recipients, OneOC board members and community leaders, selected Habitat for Humanity and The Home Depot because of their outstanding, combined efforts to house veterans in the Orange County Community. “The Home Depot Foundation’s mission to ensure every veteran a safe place to call home complements Habitat of Humanity’s goal to serve veterans and their families throughout both new home construction and home repairs,” Lowry stated. The “Veterans Build” collaborative effort culminated in the repair of 30 veterans’ homes. Accepting the award was Home Depot’s Sherry Caraway and Habitat for Humanity’s President Sharon Ellis.

Disney Ambassador Sachiko White came onstage with Russell, Disney’s Junior Wilderness Explorer, to draw the winning ticket for the Disneyland Resort Getaway Package. Lucky Krissy Humensky of Corinthian Colleges was the lucky winner!! The event netted $166,207 for OneOC’s volunteer, training, consulting, and business services in helping Orange County nonprofits.

Selected photos courtesy of OneOC

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CASA’s Black & White Ball Heartwarming Affair

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Joining me at CASA of Orange County's Celebration of Children Black & White Ball were its co-chairs Lourdes Nark, left, and Wendy Tenebaum

Joining me at CASA of Orange County’s Celebration of Children Black & White Ball were its co-chairs Lourdes Nark, left, and Wendy Tenebaum

“Every person in this room has the chance to make a difference in the life of a child,” co-chair Wendy Tenebaum said at the Court Appointed Special Advocate’s (CASA) Celebration of Children Black & White Ball at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach. Considering that net proceeds reached $780,000, it seemed like everyone contributed towards that goal. This nonprofit is awfully impressive. They specialize in training and supervising community volunteers to mentor and advocate for the most difficult abuse cases in the child welfare system, and CASA of Orange County has been doing it for 29 years.

I must say that the ballroom was lovely, thanks to Linda Young’s Elite OC Productions and Wildflower Linen, who combined gold with the black and white theme to create a very elegant setting. Montage, singers and dancers from Orange County School of the Arts, opened the ball, giving an impressive performance of “One Night Only” from Dreamgirls. Tenebaum and Lourdes Nark, the ball’s co-chairs, welcomed everyone and asked their committee to stand and receive applause for their hard work. The chairs were thanked with lovely bouquets of flowers from CASA of Orange County’s CEO Kathleen O’Neill and Board Chairman Mark Steiman for their efforts.

Every year the ball honors people who have been exemplary in their support of children, and this year I thought it was particularly touching that they recognized the past Children’s Champions from every ball since 1994. Those present included founding CASA board member Bill Steiner, Junior League of Orange County (represented by Jaynine Warner), Anton & Jennifer Segerstrom, Richard & Frances Gadbois III, Fred Port, Gary & Linda Pack, Douglas & Melinda McCrea, Dennis & Susan Leibel, Jim & Sheila Peterson, Ted & Lourdes Nark, and Jon and Carol Demorest.

Fred Port, CASA’s Advisory Board Chair and the ball’s master of ceremonies, has been a mainstay for CASA of Orange County since it was founded 29 years ago. He introduced the ball’s honorees, who included this year’s Children’s Champions, sisters Lisa and Stephanie Argyros. The women, who are known for their support of children’s causes, thanked their parents, Julie and George Argyros, for being their inspiration. “CASA’s volunteer advocates are truly the champions,” Lisa said, in receiving the honor. Larry Wilson was recognized as CASA’s Advocate of the Year for his passion and service through his roles as Court Appointed Special Advocate, Educational Representative and a Family Connections Advocate.

The keynote speakers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, a foster parent for years and author of The Language of Flowers, and Supervising Judge of the Harbor Justice Center Douglas Hatchimonji enlightened the 450 guests with their experiences with the foster care system, the traumas and challenges of the children in the system and the life-changing differences a mentor can make in a child’s life. Ty, the evening’s 14-year-old youth speaker and Outstanding Youth recipient, brought the message home as he related his experiences as a foster child and what a difference having a CASA advocate made in his life. “Having a CASA has taught me to believe in myself and my dreams,” he said. “CASA (the nonprofit) gives a voice and hope to foster youth. CASA changes lives! I sure know it changed mine.” Gloria Loring, known for her former role on the long-running soap “Days of Our Lives” and, perhaps, more recently, as the mother of the famous Robin Thicke, completed the tender moment by singing a beautiful arrangement of “Hold the Child.”

The live auction, which followed with auctioneer Jim Nye at the helm, saw trips to Paris Fashion Week, courtesy of Barbara Bui, the 2015 Augusta National, special Angels and Anaheim Ducks packages, and a drop-dead gorgeous 5.62-carat Ceylon sapphire, courtesy of Lugano Diamonds, along with a $5,000 gift certificate towards a setting. The auction highlight was the appearance of Fred Port as Tina Turner (he was the CASA ball’s auctioneer for years and always stepped onstage as the gyrating Turner accompanied by the band playing “Proud Mary”). This year he offered his entire outlandish Tina Turner outfit, including the wig and shoes, for the auction and former Children’s Champion Anton Segerstrom scooped it up for $5,000. I can’t wait to see Anton as Tina Turner!!

Selected photos by Happy Photos

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Powerhouse Women in Film/TV Share Experiences

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Joining me at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts' "Women in Focus" conference were Twyla Reed Martin and Dean Bob Bassett

Joining me at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts’ 15th Annual “Women in Focus” conference were major supporter Twyla Reed Martin and Dean Bob Bassett

The 15th Annual “Women in Focus” Conference, organized by Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, proved once again to be a high-powered gathering of the brightest and most accomplished women in film and television today. This year’s theme was “The Business of Entertainment,” and the day began with a gathering of 120 on Dodge College’s Hirsch Sound Stage B, where the group enjoyed a delicious lunch and talking with the panelists. Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Dean Bob Bassett welcomed everyone and noted that the original purpose of the conference was “a conversation between our students and women in the film business.” Eventually, he said, it evolved into an open discussion with students and members of the community regarding the film womens’ personal experience in the industry.

Dodge College Professor and Chair of Special Projects and Industry Initiatives Alex Rose, who received an Academy Award nomination for Norma Rae, was the conference chair. She thanked the sponsors, who included Twyla Reed Martin, for whom Robert Bassett’s Dean’s Chair is named, Eve Ruffatto, Harriet Sandhu, Laurie Rodnick, Adrienne Brandes, Diana Martin, and Joyce Tucker.

Once inside Dodge College’s Folino Theater, where hundreds of film students also gathered, Rose introduced conference moderator and Chief Marketing Officer for DreamWorks Animation (The Help, The Dark KnightDawn Taubin, who, in turn, introduced the panel. The discussion was lively and, at times, quite humorous. Asked for an example of when it would be better to be a man in the business, CBS Films Co-President (Last Vegas, Inside Llewyn DavisTerry Press quipped, “The day I gave birth to my child!” All the panelists agreed that most films that debuted domestically five years ago are now launched internationally first and that figuring out the audience for the film is crucial to its success. “It’s important that we’re talking about one primary audience and the film can speak to a universal theme,” said Cathy Schulman, Academy Award-winning producer (Crash, The Illusionist) and President of Mandalay Pictures. TV producer/director (Breaking Bad and Game of ThronesMichelle McLaren voiced the challenge of making telling the story – “You only have 1 1/2 hours for the audience to have an emotional connection.” Erica Huggins, President of Image Entertainment, (J. Edgar) said that their film, Rush, was a disappointment at the box office because, “We didn’t capture what the movie was about through our marketing.” Sue Kroll, President of Warner Bros. Pictures Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution (The Great Gatsby, Argo), said Gravity sold as an experience for all ages and worked all over the world. “It’s important to begin the connection to marketing early,” producer (The Master, Magnolia) JoAnne Sellar said. They all agreed that marketing was a powerful tool but that often, unfortunately, it costs as much to market a film as it does to make it.

The panelists said there was gender bias in the industry but they choose to work through it. Those who have children admitted that there is a delicate balance between family and work, and they all declared their passion for what they do, with Kroll putting it best, “You get this incredible satisfaction. I well up watching reels. Having that responsibility is worth all the hard work.”

Aside: Dawn Taubin is a former professor of Public Relations and Advertising at Dodge College and her daughter, Kendall, a senior  film student at Dodge in Producing and Public Relations, graduated in May. Cathy Schulman, who teaches graduate level film producing at Dodge College, received an Honorary Doctorate at its 2014 commencement, for which she gave the commencement address.

Selected photos by Michael Munson and Westin Ray WiF1-01WiF2-01WiF3-01WiF4-01

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