French Connection

The Orange County Rescue Mission celebrated independence day--not the blockbuster movie but the French anniversary of the storming of the Bastille--at a Bastille Day Celebration to benefit the mission’s House of Hope.

More than 300 guests sampled French food and wine at the Chanteclair restaurant in Irvine on Friday, two days before the French officially marked the 207th anniversary of their independence. The $55-per-person gala was expected to net about $30,000 for House of Hope, a shelter for abused and abandoned women and children who are homeless.


Taste of France

Party planners set up a Paris bistro in the restaurant’s parking lot, installing a small model of the Eiffel Tower and draping tables in red, white and blue--the colors of the French flag.

And guests made like the French, drinking wine and enjoying that land’s cuisine. Buffet tables included grilled scallop brochettes, leg of lamb, crepes Suzette, balsamic glazed chicken, fruits and cheeses and, for dessert, mini creme bru^lee, triple chocolate terrine and ice cream with warm cherries jubilee.

After dinner, guests watched a video that showed a House of Hope graduate who went from living out of her car to renting an apartment and holding a job.

“We were thinking of Bastille Day and how the French liberated themselves, just as the people at House of Hope free themselves from drugs, homelessness and abusive [situations],” said event chairman Ricardo Fortier, who attended with his wife, Gail. “That’s what makes this event so neat. These people are celebrating their independence.”


Cause for Hope

The House of Hope, which is in Orange, offers counseling, education, medical care, job training and guidance programs for women. The Rescue Mission also operates a shelter for men in Santa Ana.

Besides supporting the House of Hope, the event’s proceeds will provide about 10,000 meals to the homeless and poor. Since the Rescue Mission was established in 1963, the population of those needing help has changed, said Jim Palmer, the mission’s executive director.

“The Rescue Mission used to be for the 50-year-old male alcoholic. Now it’s primarily for the 24- or 25-year-old drug user.”

The Rescue Mission presented Hope Awards to three supporters: Patti Edwards, president of Childhelp USA; Richard Boyer, the mission’s board chairman; and the Weingart Foundation.

Boyer and his wife, Pam, have invited men from the Rescue Mission to their home in Costa Mesa for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

“We realized they needed to be in a home setting, and our children needed to realize how easy it is to slip into that situation and how blessed they are,” Boyer said.

Other guests attending were William Guard, Mike Lennon, Jackie Davis, Kimberly Cockrell, Joseph Basso, Jim Townsend, Jewel Loff, Craig Alexander, Les Card, Ralph Duff, Malcolm Lewis and Brian Casserly.