About 200 people got to wander through an opulent beachfront home in Emerald Bay on Saturday--light years from the alleys of urban Orange County--to raise more than $10,000 for the homeless.
While the obvious draw for the $65-a-person champagne brunch and fashion show was a tour of the multimillion-dollar home of builder Alfred A. Baldwin, chock-full of priceless artifacts and contemporary art, the sponsor of the event, Catholic Charities of Orange County, made every effort to downplay the contrast of luxury in service to poverty.
Catholic Charities' responsibility, said Sister Kristan Schlichte, standing on the sunlit patio, is to care for those who are "poor, suffering, in pain and in trouble."
Models Were Volunteers
All of the food was donated, and most of the fashion models were volunteers.
The diocese's homeless project focuses on those people completely without resources.
"Every cent goes to the totally homeless," said Helen Hawkins, a board member of Catholic Charities' homeless project, and a Baldwin neighbor. "Anyone who lives in Emerald Bay has a lot to give thanks for."
The Baldwin tour was the first of what Catholic Charities hopes will be a series of twice-yearly events. Other families that have agreed to participate, Hawkins said, include members of the Moiso and Birtcher families.
"This is our pilot run," she said.
The tour of the award-winning house was conducted by Baldwin's wife, DeeAnn.
There was so much art and so many artifacts--most collected on the couple's travels throughout the world--that DeeAnn Baldwin needed a loose-leaf notebook to describe them.
The 10,000-square-foot home, which will be featured in an issue of Architectural Digest, is on four levels and is serviced by two elevators. It has seven bedrooms and eight baths, an onyx lap pool and Jacuzzi just above the beach.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Sister Barbara Clem, who heads the homeless project. "I'm awe-struck."
Marie Chaney of Dana Point works at St. Edward's Catholic Church's food distribution center, where she sees the homeless face to face.
"That's why I decided to come," she said.