"Making Friends" has become firmly entrenched as the theme of the Big Sisters Professional Associates. The members of this organization of women executives have formed bonds of friendship among themselves as well as enabling Big Sisters of Los Angeles to become "friends, mentors, and positive and caring role models" to young girls in need.
"We feel like best friends. We've become a sort of fortysomething sorority" said Vicki Martin, who founded the group five years ago with the assistance and encouragement of then-private businessman Richard Riordan. Since its inception, Professional Associates has raised $750,000 for Big Sisters.
These friends, along with family members and Big and Little Sisters, gathered Wednesday night at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. During the cocktail hour a group of Little Sisters swarmed around Pam Dawber, star of "Mork and Mindy" and "My Sister Sam," who is national spokeswoman for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America.
In the cocktail-suited crowd, Dawber stood out in a retro, off-the-shoulder pink velvet dress with all the appropriate late '50s accessories--costume jewelry, long black gloves and upswept hair. She looked like any little girl's dream of a big sister as she skillfully hosted the evening's ceremonies.
Opening the program, Colleen O'Rourke--senior vice president of Guaranty Bank of California and chairwoman of the event--invoked Oscar Wilde: "A speech should be like a woman's dress. Short enough to maintain interest while long enough to cover essential details." Most of the speakers took note of the maxim.
Following dinner at tables strewn with pink rose petals, Patty DeDominic, founder and CEO of PDQ Personnel Services Inc., was honored with the Woman of Achievement Award. Nadine Carson, philanthropist and community volunteer, and her husband, Edward, chairman of First Interstate Bancorp, received the Corporate Leadership Award, accepting it with a sort of George-and-Gracie act involving who gets the last word.
Nell Carter's rendition of a medley of love songs got audience members swaying in their seats. Linda Salem, who had overseen the pre-dinner silent auction, said among the most popular items were the autographed jerseys of the Superbowl-winning San Francisco 49ers.
The evening netted $150,000. Among those present were the Carsons' son, Todd; DeDominic's husband, Gene Sinser, and their son, Nicholas; Kathie and Mike Gordon; Alison and Joseph Winter; Barbara Coad, president of the Professional Associates, and honorary chairman Charles Reed.