The Crowd:

Presenting the 2009 National Charity League debutants from the Newport Beach Chapter. Seventeen young ladies have been immersed in the spirit of volunteerism and service to community. They worked diligently over a six-year period, beginning in the seventh-grade, and completed their service in their senior year of high school. In all, these young ladies, who contributed more than 8,200 hours of volunteer efforts, were presented to society at the end of last year.

The honorable debutants are now college freshmen at universities across the United States, including Stanford University, Cornell University, Southern Methodist University, USC, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and many more. Resplendent in their white gowns, escorted by their fathers in formal attire, the National Charity League debutants took their place in society, and accepted the challenge to carry on the lessons of community service bestowed upon them by philanthropic mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and close female friends.

The 2009 National Charity League debutants are: Valerie Avila, Kate Baldoni, Kate Berry, Kelly Bohart, Mia Butera, Caitlin Cobb, Kailey Grant, Caroline Kelter, Kelly Moorhead, Mary Lynn Pyle, Brianne Schelin, Corinne Schnieders, Shelby Searles, Natalie Small, Suzanne Strutner, Hannah Weiner, and Whitney Wiese.

Following a tradition that has grown over nearly a half century in Newport Beach, the annual NCL debutant ball unfolded in glittering winter splendor in the International Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Irvine. Mary Fox, president of the Newport Chapter of National Charity League Inc., welcomed the gathering of some 400 guests. The party was produced by Elizabeth Lewis, director of debutant activities. Party design came courtesy of the very talented Andrew Gromek of Couture Flowers. Gromek chose a white on silver theme filling the ballroom with verdant hydrangeas and chandeliers with crystals sparkling and illuminating the room, sending light dancing off the glow of candelabra.

The Jay Sterling Orchestra played as each debutant perfectly executed the traditional St. James bow. The evening’s master of ceremonies, Michael Villani, presented the young ladies and their escorts.

The Hyatt Regency served a dinner of roasted filet and Hawaiian ono. For dessert, a specially prepared ginger moose bomb was encrusted with a chocolate medallion festooned with the National Charity League logo.

National Charity League Inc. was founded in Los Angeles in 1947, and today has 149 chapters in 15 states across America. Its overriding goal is to foster mother/daughter relationships centered upon philanthropic charitable activities benefiting the community, in addition to cultural and social enlightenment.

A few years ago, mothers in Newport Beach decided that young men needed similar exposure to community service, and formed a male adjunct to the National Charity League programs. Started by Mary Pat Lucas, Diane Edmondson, and other local women, the mother/son chapter, still in its infancy, is growing and setting a role model for national duplication.

In a world that often seems to be unraveling in a time of great change, civility and service to others often seem in short supply. Young people need to be trained and exposed to the ideals of community involvement. It is simply another form of educating youth and providing a positive foundation enhanced by a life with a connection to the needs of others, perhaps less fortunate. While traditions change and evolve, the underlying purpose of NCL survives the turbulence of our modern era.


THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays.

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