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Joining me at SPIN's Masquerade Gala was its Executive Director Jean Wegener

Joining me at SPIN’s Masquerade Gala was its Executive Director Jean Wegener

I’m always impressed hearing about how effective Serving People in Need (SPIN) is in giving a hand up to those in our society who are down and out and literally on the streets, in many cases. SPIN’s Jean Wegener, who has served as its executive director almost since its founding in 1987, has been the lady making it happen.

SPIN’s annual fall fundraiser, held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa, featured a masquerade theme this year, which drew 300 guests, many of whom got into the spirit wearing masks. Masks were also available for purchase, if they so desired.

Once again, respected Daily Pilot columnist Bruce Cook and Balboa Bay Club’s Board of Governors Chairman John Wortmann shared master of ceremonies’ responsibilities, mixing in the right amount of humor and earnestness in describing the nonprofit’s mission of assisting low-income and homeless people with financial assistance for housing costs, through a network of comprehensive support services.

One such gentleman, former SPIN client, “Jose,” spoke in glowing terms of his experience. “SPIN saved my life,” he said. “They saved my family and kept us together. We had lost our home and were living in our car. SPIN helped us find an apartment and gave me counseling in order to turn things around.” He also spoke glowingly of Wegener. Don’t miss the close-up photo of Jose and his wife at the gala. Everyone cheered their amazing turnaround.

The delicious four-course Italian feast was orchestrated by the resort’s Executive Chef Manfred Lassahn and celebrity guest chef Antonio Cagnolo, of Antonello Ristorante fame. Commencing with a delicious bibb lettuce salad and followed by a mouthwatering retolo di’ pasta second course (one of my favorite dishes at Antonello) and an entree of braised short ribs, the dessert course was a classic Italian tiramisu. It was one of the best meals I’ve had at a charity event in the past year!

When it came time for the financial appeal, it was announced that a longtime supportive SPIN couple, who chose to be anonymous, was offering $250,000 in the form of a match. Wortmann and Cook, assisted by the ever-enthusiastic Melanie Salata Fitch, announced donors as hands were raised at the different giving levels. Funds were also raised from a silent auction created and organized by Kim Frazier, with assistance from Michele Mullen. Not quite there, the staff later took several weeks to raise the balance needed to make the final gift $500,000. Pretty amazing for the little charity that could!

Among SPIN’s generous donors are Soogie and Don Kang, Elizabeth An and the An Family Foundation, Julia and George Argyros and the Argyros Family Foundation, Kim and Dick Crawford, Melanie and Ed Fitch, Peggy and Frank Listi, Angela and David Lee, Heidi and Joe Heffington, Karen and Dick Nichol, Joan Smart and Edward Rimpau, Jr., and Mary Lou and Wayne Shattuck.

The best news about SPIN is that 92% of the funds raised directly benefit SPIN’s clients and 92% of the clients have achieved self-sufficiency at program’s end and have maintained self-sufficiency. Here, Here!