The Crowd: Cindy McCain visits for veterans

Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain (R-Ariz.), came into Newport Beach on Friday evening for a special dinner at the Ritz Restaurant in Fashion Island.

Cindy McCain is a double Blue Star Mom, a member of an organization of mothers of children who have served in the military. The organization is a non-sectarian and nonprofit support group assisting members of the United States military.

The purpose of her visit was to raise awareness for another organization, HonorVet, who "has created a sustainable and tactical approach to address the crippling issues facing our veterans today," according to an event flier.

The most troubling of these issues includes serious unemployment among veterans, and much-needed mental health services. Horrifying statistics indicate that 18 veterans are committing suicide every single day, and that the transition from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to adjusting to civilian life including finding a job has become a national crisis.

Cindy McCain shared that volunteers from around the country become mentors to veterans through the HonorVet program ultimately helping veterans to reestablish their lives.

The organization has an Orange County chapter working with local service men and women.

The Ritz Restaurant and Ray Jacobi underwrote the dinner reception welcoming McCain and guests, as well as donating 10% of the evenings dinner proceeds to HonorVet Orange County. For more information, visit


Festival rallies for children

More than 400 Orange County residents gathered Aug. 30 at South Coast Plaza's Garden Terrace for the much-respected Festival of Children Foundation's 2012 opening party. The end of summer event was a who's who crowd of local community leaders, dignitaries and representatives from more than 75 different children's charities, according to a festival news release.

Founded by philanthropist Sandy Segerstrom, the organization has become one of the regions most active nonprofits.

"The theme of tonight's party is 'Believe'," she said, adding, "To make a difference in the lives of children we must believe."

The recipient of the organization's annual FRED Award (For Really Extraordinary "Do"ers), Yash Gupta, 15, of Irvine, has provided eyewear to people who can't afford it through his nonprofit Sight Learning, according to the release. The young philanthropist was unable to attend because he was organizing an eye exam clinic in India.

September is National Child Awareness Month, with many Festival of Children events focusing on the organizations taking place each weekend at South Coast Plaza.

A few of the participating charitable organizations include KidWorks, Blind Children's Learning Center, All American Boys Chorus, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Children's Hospital Orange County, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Prentice School, OliveCrest and Laura's House.

For more information, visit


Group dines for literacy

The Literacy Project Foundation welcomes Mark Victor Hansen author of "The Chicken Soup for the Soul" book series, as the keynote speaker for their annual luncheon billed as "What Dreams Are Made Of" on Sept. 27 at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin. The event will honor Master Teacher of the Year Miranda Espinosa. Also honored will be Corporate Partner of the Year the Disneyland Resort and "Distinguished Humanitarian" Sue Parks.

The luncheon will be co-chaired by Sue Tucker and JoAnn Albers with support from the committee including Jeannie Lawrence, Danielle Drucker, Janie Merkle, Barb Shangraw, Kimberly Vig and Lee Ann Canaday. Tickets are $100 per person and sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information, email

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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