The Crowd: SPIN tournament raises funds for the needy

Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Irvine played host to the 7th annual Serving People In Need (SPIN) Spring Golf Tournament.

One of the gents playing in a winning foursome suggested that the event was a "hole in one to stamp out homelessness in Orange County."

Close to 100 men and women converged on the rolling greens on this midweek day in May to take a stand and raise much-needed funds for folks who, at this point in their lives, have no opportunity to enjoy the good fortune of a day of golf and social merriment with their peers.

For the working poor, and for those who have no permanent residence, figuring out what to have for dinner, how to feed themselves and their family, and where to lay their head down for a night's sleep are concerns that trump all else.

The SPIN tournament chairman, Danni Remington of Premiere Commercial Bank, joined Jean Wegener, executive director of SPIN, and Development Director Kim Frazier in greeting the arriving supporters for a noon tee-off. A committee of volunteer organizers led the way to the putting greens and driving range for practice shots prior to the foursomes jumping in their golf carts stocked with festive box lunches and libations.

The "cute quotient" came courtesy of the Anaheim Ducks Power Players, as the lovely young girls in their cheer squad uniforms sold raffle tickets and passed out icy margaritas at the bars set up on the course.

On a serious note, one of the young women had a more personal connection to the tournament than the rest. She confided that, as a young girl, her own mother had been assisted by SPIN, whose support helped her to turn her life around and, in turn, provide more stability for her family.

Life can indeed come full circle as experienced by the now-grown child reflecting on what might have been in her own young life if SPIN had not been there to help.

Making the golf event possible were serious donors, including Erich Melvedt of Integrity Media, Allardice Trust, Bogart Construction, Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, Plaza Bank, US Trust, Christine Weiner, Wells Fargo, O'Melveny & Myers, LLP providing gift for the golfers, and SPIN's ultra-dedicated visionary leaders Mary Lou and Wayne Shattuck and Richard Crawford of Crawford Custom Homes.

Standouts among the golf participants included putting contest champ Jared Callister, who was just inches ahead of his closest competitor, Mark Wille. Greg Pierce took home the "closest to the pin" award, while Steve Tinnelly achieved the longest drive.

In the ladies field, Gennye Walker took first place. The overall winning team included golfers Dave Simkin, Kevin McHenry, Michael Bueche and Tom Mahony.

At the end of the day of golf, sponsor Allardice Trust underwrote the excitement of the helicopter ball drop. Swooping in over the 18th hole, a helicopter opened its hatch and rained hundreds of numbered golf balls, all underwritten through donations from folks supporting SPIN charities.

One lucky numbered ball that hit the ball provided its donor with a $1,000 reward. It was then time for cocktails and dinner in the big red barn clubhouse.

As the crowd enjoyed grilled burgers and chicken breasts, raffle prizes were awarded thanks to the generosity of local Newport-Mesa business support from citizens, including Dr. Kate Sahafi of Dover Dental, Paul Taddeo of Haute Cakes Caffe, Dr. John Pecora of IntelliSkin, Kimberly Fowler and Elle Davidson of YAS, Tony Motakef and Shelly Register of A Restaurant, A Market and Lido Village Books, and Melanie Yankie of Elizabeth Charles.

Funds raised from the tournament are still being tallied and will be used to support SPIN programs that provide housing, rehabilitation, counseling, food and job training for Orange County individuals and families suffering from both homelessness and substance addiction.

In other SPIN news, Orange County celebrity restaurateur Elizabeth An, chief executive of the House of An, has graciously agreed to design and supervise the gourmet dining experience along with other members of her culinary team for the annual fall SPIN gala fundraising dinner at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort.

The talented An, named one of Orange County's top 10 restaurateurs and chefs, will work with the Hilton's Executive Chef Jeff Littlefield to prepare a spectacular evening on behalf of the charity. For more information on SPIN, please contact Kim Frazier at (714) 751-1101 ext. 19.

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.

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