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Opinion

The Crowd: National Philanthropy Day highlights those who give

NPD 2019 Ueberroth_Swayne_Booth.jpg
Outstanding Philanthropist Keith Swayne, center, with Honorary Chairs and 2019 Legacy award honorees for Ueberroth Family Foundation Ginny Ueberroth, left, and Vicki Booth, right.
(Tony Lattimore and Carla Rhea)

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” The words of Mahatma Gandhi resonate in each human being committed to a purpose larger than oneself.

Charitable deeds are in fact so much greater than the act of giving. Even the smallest gesture of kindness can be transformative. Have you ever been the recipient of a free meal paid for by the person in the car in front of you at a fast food drive-through? Such a simple act of generosity can change one’s perspective on life, if just for a day.

Moreover, kindness has a ripple effect called “paying it forward.”

In Orange County this holiday season that so-called ripple effect reached givers across the local spectrum of philanthropy. The 2019 National Philanthropy Day honors were celebrated and bestowed upon individuals and businesses dedicated to being Gandhi’s instruments of change.

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The 34th annual event in Orange County welcomed upward of 1,000 guests for lunch at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Co-chaired by Jeanne Flint and Elizabeth Kurila, the inspirational afternoon was labeled “philanthropy with heart.” Community leaders Ginny and Peter Ueberroth and their daughter, Vicki Booth, representing the Ueberroth Family Foundation, stood proudly on stage at the Grove as honorary chairs.

“The selection process is daunting,”Flint said.

From thousands of local charitable causes in the O.C., hundreds are nominated for recognition and nine are chosen in various categories. Companies accepting applause this year were the Junior League of Orange County, Apriem Advisors, Clark Construction and Bracken’s Kitchen. Individual philanthropists Hannah Novakovick, Dr. Adrienne Matros, Keith Swayne, Carole Pickup and her daughter Devon Martin — both representing the Balboa Bay Club and Balboa Bay Resort — earned plaudits. Legacy honors were awarded to Sue and Ralph Stern.

Local celeb and TV host/producer Maria Hall Brown of PBS SoCal/KCET introduced the honorees along with special guests. Following a video short with heartfelt tributes delivered by beneficiaries of the various charities supported by the award winners, short speeches were delivered.

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As an example the nonprofits principally served by the Pickup/Martin family are New Directions For Women and Orange County School of the Arts. In recent years Pickup and Martin, along with Devon’s husband, Kevin Martin, president of the International Bay Club, as well as brother Todd Pickup and his wife, Natalie, have granted funds on both personal and corporate levels in seven-figure sums to nonprofits changing lives in the O.C. Often such largess has been done quietly, without recognition or fanfare.

Also of considerable note was an address by Keith Swayne, who was introduced by Ginny Ueberroth and Vicki Booth, the honorary event chairs. Longtime friends and admirers of Swayne’s community involvement, both ladies sang of his considerable outreach. Swayne commented that his philanthropic efforts are aimed at all citizens, “regardless of race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or immigration status.”

The Legacy award went to Newport residents Sue and Ralph Stern. Their reach is widely felt and recognized in the O.C. community. Uncompromising support of cancer research via the Sue and Ralph Stern Center for Clinical Trials and Research at UC Irvine’s Chao Family Cancer Center is a cornerstone of their giving.

Additionally, the Sterns are front and center for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Girl’s Inc., the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Orange County and Chapman University.

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