It was a Southern California postcard afternoon: sun on the water, bronze bodies on the sand, two hang gliders mingling with kites and gulls high above the rocky cliffs of Ritz Cove.
"You know, it's so beautiful here, it's really difficult to get up and talk about what I'm here to talk about," Linda Coffey told members of Les Amis des Femmes, a support group for the Women's Transitional Living Center.
As executive director of the center, a county shelter for battered women and their children, Coffey had come Saturday to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dana Point to thank the group for its fund-raising efforts, which have netted an estimated $100,000 in the last decade, according to treasurer Aileen Abell.
And she came to talk about "the traps and myths" of domestic violence.
For example: "The trap of not talking about it--that if you don't talk about it somehow it doesn't occur."
And: "The myth that it couldn't occur in a beautiful environment like this, with our friends and neighbors around us."
After Coffey's brief talk, guests sat back at their white-clothed tables for a proper English tea, complete with scones and Devonshire clotted cream, fresh fruit and fruit tarts and an assortment of finger sandwiches. As they ate, the Tiento Chamber Ensemble played baroque selections, and models circulated in casual wear from Ritz-Carlton shops.
Among the 64 women in attendance was Charlene Walsh, who got involved with the support group 3 years ago when the youngest of her five children took part in the annual Les Amis debutante ball. Seated with ex-deb daughter Lisa and married daughter Sherri Turner, Walsh called her volunteer work in WTLC's preschool "unbelievably fulfilling."
Guests Kathryn McKnight and Sally Iboshi, who will co-chair Les Amis' debutante ball this summer, met 2 years ago when their daughters were debs. "The ball was such a wonderful experience for our whole family, I decided to join (Les Amis)," said McKnight.
WTLC will hold its fifth annual dinner-dance and auction, a '50s-themed "Night on the Town," at Le Meridien Hotel in Newport Beach on May 13.