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It was great to see the An family recognized for their philanthropic support in the community at CASA’s (Court Appointed Special Advocates) annual black-tie gala. Elizabeth An, one of the five daughters of Helene (affectionately known as “Mama An”) and Danny An and who you might know from having seen her at AnQi, one of the many restaurants in the An family empire, spoke for the family in receiving CASA’s Outstanding Corporation Award. “CASA is special to us because, having survived the fall of Saigon in 1975 by living in tents and fighting for food and finally making a new life in the U.S., we understand the importance of a support system. That’s what CASA does for these children.”

Television personality Alan Thicke, accompanied by his gorgeous wife Tanya, presented the awards, which also included Lourdes and Ted Nark as Children’s Champions, as well as the Outstanding Advocates Honorees – Lydia Levin, Myrna Hernandez-Flores, Sandie Skinner, Andy Jacobson, Nina Hamilton, and Maggie Gilliam, who together have 50 years experience serving as mentor/advocates to 40 children. Siblings Berneice, Hugo and Gabriel were the Outstanding Youth Honorees.

New York Times bestselling author Laura Schroff told her amazing story of befriending a panhandling kid and the 25-year friendship that ensued, and chart-topping recording artist and actress Taylor Dayne entertained the record crowd of 800, with an even more impressive $800,000 net proceeds realized for helping those foster children on the waiting list. I always enjoy this fundraiser because it is so heartfelt. Everyone – from the volunteers, staff, advocates, honorees, board members, and supporters – is there because they care what happens to our community’s most severely abused and neglected children caught in the welfare system, and they know CASA makes a difference in their lives.