Al DeGrassi, Bruce Cook, Charlie Palmer, Don and Soogie Kang, Elizabeth An and Gordon Clune, HB Hyatt's Chef Manfred Lassahn, helping the homeless, John and Mary Tu, John Wortmann, Karen and Dick Nicol, Mark McGrath, Mary Frome, McG, Melanie Salata Fitch, Serving People in Need, SPIN, SPIN's Executive Dir. Jean Wegener, SPIN's Silver Anniversary Gala, Sugar Ray
Every time I attend a fundraising event for Serving People in Need, or SPIN for short, I am impressed by the dedication and passion the group has for helping the homeless. I was truly moved to hear statistics at the nonprofit’s annual gala, celebrating its 25th anniversary, that 92% of SPIN’s clients successfully completed its transitional housing programs and found permanent housing as intended and that none, I repeat none, of SPIN’s clients who exited to permanent housing returned to homelessness. Now, that is something to shout about!
I can tell you, there was not a happier person at SPIN’s Silver Anniversary Gala than SPIN’s Executive Director Jean Wegener. Jean is just one of those people you meet and instantly like. And, you like her even more when she talks about helping the less fortunate. She is passionate about SPIN, and when $153,000 was raised in the Restore a Family in Crisis appeal later in the evening, Jean was over the moon. The appeal, which ultimately helped garner $220,000 in net proceeds, was a record for the gala, and she was ecstatic!
The celebration, held at the Huntington Beach Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa, drew nearly 400 guests and featured one of my favorite people as master of ceremonies. Bruce Cook, well-known, respected journalist for the Daily Pilot and and the Balboa Bay Club’s Bay Window magazine, welcomed everyone and introduced the gala’s impressive chef team. The culinary partnership between the Hyatt’s Executive Chef Manfred Lassahn and celebrity guest Master Chef Charlie Palmer was quite a treat, as the pair orchestrated a sumptuous four-course feast with excellent wine pairings, while the white-gloved Hyatt wait staff did a spectacular job presenting it.
Longtime SPIN supporter Melanie Salata Fitch and volunteer guest auctioneer John Wortmann, best known as Board of Governors Chair at the Balboa Bay Club, worked their magic during the live auction to raise significant monies for SPIN. Highlights included a fabulous trip to Paris via American Airlines with an exclusive Cordon Bleu experience for two, which ended up selling multiple times, as well as two different six-night getaways to a Newport Beach cottage on the water and a historic Victorian home in Napa Valley’s St. Helena.
The evening culminated in a spectacular performance by one of Orange County’s own rock bands, Sugar Ray. With lead singer Mark McGrath yelling, “We’re back home” and giving a shout out to SPIN’s 25th anniversary, he recalled the band performing at SPIN’s very first dinner. The dance floor was packed as the band took the crowd down memory lane performing some of their biggest hits. Joseph McGinty “McG” Nichol, noted film and television director and producer and childhood friend of McGrath’s (they both attended Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach), made an appearance as the band was performing. He joined his parents, Karen and Dick Nichol, who are longtime SPIN supporters.
Among the gala’s major underwriters attending were Don and Soogie Kang (who offered a matching challenge grant of $50,000 in the appeal), RJ and Rhonda Mayer, Elizabeth An and Gordon Clune, John and Mary Tu, Richard and Kim Crawford, Frank and Peggy Listi, Mary Lou and Wayne Shattuck, Edward Rimpau, Christine and Scotdt Lieberman, Mary Frome, Charles and Regina Granville, David and Angela Lee, and SPIN’s board chairman Al DeGrassi and wife Susan.
The capper of the evening was when longtime SPIN supporter Ginny Walker won First Prize in the opportunity drawing – $1,000 in cash! – and she donated it back to SPIN. It was that kind of evening!
Selected photos courtesy of Rene Lopez Photography