The Crowd: A generous check for Childhelp

*This post has been corrected, as noted below.

Jacquie and Michael Casey accepted the Founder's Award from Childhelp at an Oct. 18 gala at the Balboa Bay Resort. Childhelp co-founder Sara O'Meara praised the Caseys for their generous financial commitment, enabling the event to net close to $800,000 in support of child services offered by the organization to the neediest of abused and abandoned kids from Orange County and beyond.

Close to 400 guests converged upon the Balboa Bay Resort for the Saturday night affair billed as "Rat Pack Redux." Chaired by Kristen James, Shan Vincent and Joy Whitlock, the evening also honored Eric Schneider, author of "The Choir Boy" and himself a victim of child abuse. The crowd danced until "The Cinderella Hour" to music by the Tijuana Dogs. Supporting the successful evening were Mark and Julie Adams, Jim and Patti Edwards, Cory and Katherine Meredith, Chris and Diana Miner, Mark and Joyce Simon, and Bud and Pam Pharris.

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Human Options raises awareness

The national media surrounding domestic violence and several incidents involving NFL players created a platform of vital current awareness for Costa Mesa's Human Options to hold its annual fall fundraising luncheon. More than 450 people attended the Oct. 16 confab at the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel. Net proceeds will approach $250,000, which will support Human Options' mission of working within the Orange County community to break the cycle of domestic violence.

Fronting the luncheon was author Rosalind Wiseman, award-winning writer of numerous New York Times best-selling books, including "Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World." The luncheon was chaired by two Orange County business leaders, John Drachman, president of Stillwater Investment Group, and Ryan Wilkinson, senior vice president of First Foundation Bank. Welcoming the crowd was Human Options co-founder Vivian Clecak, joining dedicated supporter Steve Churm. Churm's late mother Carolyn Churm was a co-founder of the organization. Major support came from Karen and Jon Jaffe, Karen and Scott Green, Victoria and David Collins, Yvonne and Damien Jordan, Mara and Keith Murray, and Barbara Roberts.

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Literacy Project defines dreams

When it comes to the subject of overcoming the constraints of poverty, the overriding answer lies in providing education. Orange County's Literacy Project held its fifth annual benefit gala Sept. 30 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, attracting a crowd of 240 guests committed to the ideal that education is the key to opportunity for those struggling to overcome economic, social and racial barriers. Organizers raised more than $100,000, which will support a proprietary 30-hour reading program delivered at no cost to elementary school classrooms in Southern California.

The gala evening was chaired by Jeannie Lawrence with support from co-chair Sue Grant and a committee that included Donna Schuller, Susan Hogan, Julie Edwards, LeAnn Canady, Janie Merkle and Aimee Ritcher, to name only a few. Doug Freeman, board chair for Literacy Project, delivered the keynote address, emphasizing the importance of the work of the organization "bridging the literacy gap for grade school students." Presenting sponsors were Tourbillon Boutique, South Coast Plaza and OMEGA. OMEGA U.S. brand president Gregory Swift attended the event on behalf of the international watch manufacturer. Highlight of the evening was a presentation from students attending the Orange County School of the Arts.

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Laura's House raises $1.5 million

The overwhelming philanthropy of Julia and George Argyros stunned the 350-some guests of Laura's House attending its 20th anniversary dinner Oct. 4 at the Balboa Bay Resort. "George and I arrived with the intent to donate a half million dollars. After hearing the speaker, a graduate of the program, describe her experience with Laura's House, we tore up the original check and wrote a new one for $1 million," Julia Argyros said.

Another philanthropist, Anne MacPherson, donated an additional $100,000 to match funds raised from Laura's House's "Rebuild a Life" appeal. The evening was chaired by Laura Khouri, president of Western National Group. She joined Laura's House CEO Margaret Bayston in welcoming the crowd, which included Daniel, Karen and Wayne Pinnell, Mike Hayde and master of ceremonies for the evening Hetty Chang, reporter with NBC 4 Southern California.

A special thanks was offered to honorary event chair Donna Pickup and her husband Dick Pickup, co-owner of the Balboa Bay Resort and Balboa Bay Club. Additional appreciation for support was also bestowed upon the Jacqueline Glass family, Lisa and Les Fujimoto, Laura Feld, the Thompson Foundation and the Joe MacPherson Foundation, to name only a few.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

An earlier version of this post misspelled Wayne Pinnell's name.

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