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The Crowd: Annual gala benefits Laura’s House

The Island Hotel Newport Beach was the setting for the 17th annual gala on behalf of Laura’s House, an organization dedicated to providing domestic violence related services.

More than 300 guests came together to assist the cause, netting $150,000 for services offered by the organization. Funds will be used for counseling, legal advocacy, educational programs and emergency shelters among other essential needs for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Organizers called this season’s event “Island Breezes,” adopting a South Seas theme with a dinner menu featuring macadamia nut-crusted mahi mahi and Kurobuta pork medallions. Chaired by the charming Linda Grace Kearns, the event paid special tribute to three very significant friends of Laura’s House.

Ricky Lutzky of Lutzky Associates Development has donated more than 1,450 hours as the manager of a project rebuilding and expanding Laura’s Emergency Shelter. Lutzky joined fellow honoree Don Vodra, COO of Rancho Mission Viejo, who has served Laura’s House board of directors for six years (two years as chairman) and has been a major resource for both financial and human support of important Laura’s House projects.


Also honored was corporate sponsor Verizon Wireless, which received the “Corporate Crystal Heart” for its generous $50,000 grant to support technology upgrades at Laura’s Emergency Shelter, Counseling and Resource Center.

Major sponsorship for Laura’s House came from donors including Julianne and George Argyros and the Argyros Family Foundation; Corum; the Russ and Kathy Van Cleve Family Foundation; Western National Group; Zee Allred, Bette and Wylie Aitken and the law firm of Aitken, Aitken and Cohen; Jacqueline Glass and family; Linda and Chad Kearns; Laura Khouri; Haskell and White LLP; and the Wolin Design Group, among others.

Laura’s House CEO/Executive Director Margaret Bayston paid tribute to the generosity of the community and acknowledged the dedication of both individuals and business sponsors making the gala a reality. Special thanks was offered to Donna Cipolla, Sharon Dannelley, Kent French, and Sandra and Joe DeLadurantey along with other volunteers and donors.

A major silent and live auction helped to raise the financial bar for Laura’s House. The highlight of the evening program was the personal testimony of two women known just as “Erica” and “Suzanne” sharing their journey from abusive situations into a healthy life pattern.


“The mission of Laura’s House is to change the social beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate domestic violence while creating a safe place in which to empower individuals and families affected by abuse,” stressed spokeswoman Suzanne Collier.

Today, Laura’s House provides residential shelter services to some 200 women and children. In addition, the organization offers counseling and legal services to another 600 clients in need of help and handles more than 1700 hot-line crisis calls. To learn more call (949) 361-3775 or visit

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