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The Crowd: True Sioux Hope Gala raises funds for South Dakota reservation

The O.C. is one of the most philanthropic communities in the U.S.

Among the multitude of serious nonprofits working to make a difference in the lives of many, there are also some very personal and particular endeavors championed by local citizens with strong emotional ties to a cause.

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One of those special individuals is a businesswoman and philanthropist named Twila True. Her passionate cause is assisting the Oglala Lakota Sioux Native Americans from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The True connection is direct — she hails from the region and is acutely aware of these Americans living in poverty.

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To make a difference, True and husband Alan True created the True Sioux Hope Foundation. They reached out to donors including Donna and Dick Pickup, Tim and Stephanie Busch, Linda and Burton Young, Leroy and Kelly Breinholt, Cheryl and John Joliffe, Marilyn Robinson and Julia Ormond to build local interest and bring in financial backing.

Recently, the second annual True Sioux Hope Gala unfolded at the Pasea Hotel and Spa in Huntington Beach, where the group raised an impressive $363,565 befitting the tribe.

"The Gala was a very beautiful and moving event that gave guests insight into the Oglala Lakota Sioux people and their culture while also raising awareness of their needs to drive support that will empower the tribe to become self-sufficient," said True, chairwoman of the foundation. "I'm so thankful to all of our sponsors, donors and supporters who came out to share in our accomplishments to date, and help us continue our efforts to change the lives and futures of our people going forward."

Donations raised from the event will provide the 35,000 tribe members on the reservation — one of the poorest regions in the country — with much-needed food and infant care supplies, job training and employment, university scholarships, a Children's Safe Home to reduce infant mortality and cultural programs.

Donna Pickup, the co-chair of the evening who also hails from South Dakota, welcomed the VIP crowd with a heartfelt opening address.

She was joined by the Trues and their sons Alan Jr. and Brandon who spoke on the specific needs of tribal children and adolescents.

Teen suicide is a serious problem in the community given the desperation of young people and the lack of professional mental health resources.

Supporting the lively event, which featured Native American dancers as well as an artisan marketplace full of homemade crafts by tribal artists, were State Senator Joe Dunn, Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon, James Van Der Beek, Shawn Finnie, Tonantzin Carmelo, Lori and Joe Tyon, Holy and Lupe Erwin, Jody and Hal Cassriel, Craig Brown, Steven Hirth, and Jessica and Brian Hymel.

To learn more about the Oglala Lakota Sioux and the True Sioux Hope Foundation, please visit truesiouxhope.org.

A big hand for Girl Scouts

Julia Argyros, arguably the first lady of O.C. philanthropy, came in her Girl Scouts leader's uniform.

Her attire could not have been more apropos.

After all, Argyros is a life-long scout and a major champion of supporting the lives of young women. She and husband George were lead donors in funding the new $5 million harbor-side campus created on leased land from the City of Newport Beach.

The new facility named the Argyros Girl Scout Leadership Center on the Balboa Peninsula next to Marina Park will focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning programs for young girls.

The O.C. community is home to some 450 Girl Scout troops made up of 21,000 scouts and more than 10,000 adult volunteers. As guests arrived, Argyros, in her own leader's uniform she wore from 1955 to 1968 (yes, it still fits perfectly, she joked), passed out boxes of Girl Scouts cookies to friends and well-wishers attending the opening night celebration.

VIPs turning out for these boxes of cookies (Thin Mints went fast) were CEO of Girl Scouts Orange County Nancy Nygren, Bette and Wiley Aitken with daughter Ashleigh Aitken, Nella Allen Webster, Kevin O'Grady and Elizabeth Allen Kane.

Also front and center for the Girl Scouts were Elizabeth and Walter Stahr, Roberta and Eric Swanson, Susan and Jim Bundy and Richard Finkel of Bundy-Finkel Architects.

Closing the celebration, the crowd was invited to the scout's patio, named "S'More" for a real scouting tradition-roasting s'mores over a fire pit under a starry night sky.

The Argyros Girl Scout Leadership Center was made possible through funding from a $5-million-dollar campaign still underway, which included a historic and transformational $2.5M gift from Julia and George Argyros.

Opportunities to contribute to the building's legacy, including naming sponsorships, are still available.

For more information, contact Michelle Duro at mduro@girlscoutsoc.org or (949) 461-8814.

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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