The Crowd: Giving the Gift of Hope for muscular dystrophy

The 18th annual Gift of Hope Gala benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. unfolded June 8 at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach. Some 400 donors filled the elegant ballroom for the black-tie affair emceed by the beautiful blond media personality Jamie Gwen, attired in a stunning black satin gown accented by dazzling diamonds from Tiffany & Co.'s collection labeled Jazz Age Glamour. Gwen led the crowd in recognizing the evening's two very prominent local citizens named as the MDA's Man and Woman of the Year. Newport Beach restaurateur Jeff Reuter joined fellow notable in the culinary field Charlene Prager, helping to raise significant funds for the cause.

Two of MDA's most ardent supporters, Frank DiBella and S. Paul Musco, once again led the crusade, chairing the benefit that they called "Serving Up a Cure." Major corporate support for the night came from Traditional Jewelers.

Supporting MDA in the O.C. were Brett Hardin, Michael Cho, Kristilyn Goff, Mary Jo Hausman, Ray Jacobi, Daniel Marks, Milan Panic, John Postma, Wayne and Sheri Smith and Victoria Taylor.

The Corona del Mar estate of Will and Meka Voge welcomed OC Women2Women for a signature event on the coast. The crowd converged at the spectacular Pacific view residence as the talented jazz pianist Ron Kobayashi and his trio entertained. The Saturday evening gathering was chaired and created by noted interior designer Karen Butera King, who welcomed some 100 guests who came to support the cause.

OC Women2Women is a globally organized effort with a local focus here in SoCal with the purpose of assisting women in business find a path to sustainable self-sufficiency. The overriding goal is to break cycles of poverty repeated generation after generation. To this end, the group has partnered with Hope International, a microfinance organization that provides small business loans, training and other services to assist aspiring women in business.

Spotted in the crowd at the Voge residence enjoying a summer buffet seaside were Scott, Sandy and Jan Moody, John and Anette Packer, Taylor and Aaron Olsen, Jim and Marcia Brashier, Eve Ramos Paulino, Susan Lister, Gary and Ragan Hill, Butera King's husband and design partner Ric King and Celeste Jimenez Pena De Amarante, consul general of the Dominican Republic.

The World Affairs Council of Orange County joined with the Orange County Business Council to welcome the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the Honorable James B. Smith, for a dinner held June 11 at the Westin South Coast Plaza. Smith was received by more than 225 local citizens attending the evening, led by World Affairs Chapter Chairman Michael Moodian.

Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez, former director of the Peace Corps, introduced Smith to the audience. He spoke on the current U.S.-Saudi relations in the ever-changing and volatile Middle East. Also discussed were U.S. economic interests in the region and, most controversial, the state of the so-called "Arab Spring" and its impact on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Former Newport Beach Mayor Tod Ridgeway, noted scientist Dr. Harry Sabota, Judge Art Nakazato and O.C. Chief of Protocol Joanne Sokolski were among the V.I.P. guests along with Ambassador Abdullah Saeed Al Harthi, Saudi Arabian consul general of Los Angeles.

It's expensive, but it's certainly unique, and all of the proceeds benefit O.C. children. The Festival of Children Foundation, led by the dynamic and devoted Sandra Segerstrom Daniels, will host "A Segerstrom Ranch Dinner" this fall right on the farm grounds of the original Segerstrom family land on Fairview Road in Costa Mesa.

The Oct. 1 event will be created by noted Chef Joachim Splichal of the Patina Restaurant Group with fine wines provided by Michael Browne and Kosta Browne. The five-course farm-to-table dinner will invite guests to pick their own veggies from the garden while sharing in a little rare Bourbon-tasting in the field. That's what you call "back to nature."

This very unique event is priced at $1,500 per person, making a big difference for families and children in the O.C. served by signature programs of the Festival of Children.

To make a reservation, please contact Inge Hergenrather at (949) 690-7602 or go to

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

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World