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The Crowd: He celebrates Mother’s Day for more than one reason

National Charity League Jrs. Cynthia Amaral, Christy Flannagan and Maggie Horne at Mother-Daughter Virtual Cooking Event.
National Charity League Jrs. Cynthia Amaral, Christy Flannagan and Maggie Horne at National Charity League, Jrs. Mother-Daughter Virtual Cooking Event held March 7, 2021.
(Photo courtesy Kimberly Bennion)

On the Saturday night of Mother’s Day weekend 2017 my life was saved. Five prior years on kidney dialysis had resulted in the extreme urgency for a transplant. My dire health status was a secret from most people, except one woman who pushed me for two years to spread the word seeking a kidney donor. I politely refused. How do you ask someone for a body part?

That woman was Carole Pickup of Laguna Beach. She sponsored that Saturday night organ donor awareness cocktail and dinner event at Balboa Bay Resort and some 500 guests converged. They heard testimony from baseball champ Rod Carew, a heart transplant survivor. TV host Peter Marshall shared his family experience with a kidney transplant. Others stood recounting their life-saving episodes, including two doctors from Hoag Hospital, one donating an organ to another, and the Rev. John Huffman officiating and telling his personal family story. Then it was my turn. Standing before the crowd I said, “Lock the ballroom doors. Nobody is leaving until I get a kidney.”

Several weeks later I answered the phone and a woman named Heidi Miller, Laguna Beach businesswoman and community activist was calling. She had not attended the event, but heard about the need. She introduced herself to me and offered her kidney. Since that amazing day, Heidi has arranged multiple organ matches and has launched the Living Organ Donor Assistance Fund.

So that makes Mother’s Day pretty special for me, elevating Carole Pickup and Heidi Miller to Mother’s Day sainthood, joining my own special mother, mother-in-law and wife. The message is clear: make Mother’s Day special for the moms in your life.

Talk about a perfect transition, the Newport Chapter of National Charity League, Jrs. presented its annual Mother-Daughter fundraising luncheon virtually March 7 in support of three local nonprofits the group has championed for many years. High Hopes Head Injury Program, the Harry and Grace Steele Children’s Center, and the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation shared in the generosity of virtual participants.

Kim and Angeline Shipman participate in the National Charity League, Jrs. Mother-Daughter event.
Kim and Angeline Shipman participate in the National Charity League, Jrs. Mother-Daughter Virtual Cooking Event held March 7, 2021.
(Photo courtesy Kimberly Bennion)

A unique twist for the virtual gathering featured chef Allison Rinehart, owner of Lil’ Pinkies Up Cooking Program, appearing on video in her kitchen teaching young children the art of “eating beyond nuggets.” Her motto is “Encourage children to be confident eaters while always having fun.”

Participating in the virtual event were Kim Shipman, Christy Flannagan, Maggie Horne, Cynthia Amaral, Erica Thomas and Lauren Franke, to name only a few.

Kendall Kelly, committee member of the Teen Project 7th Annual Fashion Show Benefit.
Kendall Kelly, committee member of the Teen Project 7th Annual Fashion Show Benefit held on May 2, 2021, models a dress on the runway.
(Photo courtesy Brian Knott)

Last week in Newport Beach the 7th annual Teen Project Fashion Show benefit unfolded live at the Newport Beach Country Club. Teen Project supports at-risk girls who age out of the foster care system often facing homelessness and much more serious consequences including addiction, prostitution and sex-trafficking bondage. What a world of unimaginable suffering largely unknown in the public sphere.

Teen guests attend the May 2 Teen Project 7th Annual Fashion Show Benefit held at the Newport Beach Country Club.
Teen guests attend the May 2, 2021 Teen Project 7th Annual Fashion Show Benefit held at the Newport Beach Country Club.
(Photo courtesy Brian Knott)

The luncheon event introduced young women who successfully made the transition out of foster care, establishing a path to independent life. Honored guest, Dr. Gigi Kroll with Newport Center Women’s Health was named Community Partner of the Year. Newport Center Women’s Health provides counseling and gynecological services at no charge to girls at risk.

Jenny Cullen, committee member, walks the runway during the Teen Project 7th Annual Fashion Show Benefit.
Jenny Cullen, committee member, walks the runway during the Teen Project 7th Annual Fashion Show Benefit held May 2, 2021.
(Photo courtesy Brian Knott)

In fashion news this week, the O.C. welcomes Douglas Little, the “mastermind” behind the artisanal all-natural fragrance line Heretic Parfum (est. 2016). Little is revolutionizing the industry breaking rules with scents that carry cutting age names. Among them, “Dirty Gardenia” and others attracting the new age consumer. The parfums are being featured in the shops at Montage/Laguna, some 20 plant-based fragrances and a candle collection with names not entirely suitable for print. Little previously collaborated with actress Gwyneth Paltrow on her GOOP fragrance collection.

Community activist Beverly Morgan over at the Sherman Library & Gardens Corona del Mar announces the Saturday launch of the 25th Annual Newport Beach “Virtual” Garden Tour with viewing online.

The virtual show will be the biggest fundraiser for Sherman Library & Gardens with proceeds from the tour supporting children’s education programs. Scott LaFleur (an appropriate name), executive director of Sherman Library & Gardens, hired a professional video production company to take footage at all six local gardens on the tour. The homeowners’ personal garden stories are weaved throughout the presentation, adding a compelling touch and insight into the life of gardening for different people with different inspirations and passions. Kind of a “mini-PBS” experience, local, up-close and personal.

One of the gardens featured in the 25th Annual Newport Beach Virtual Garden Tour, Sherman Library & Gardens' fundraiser.
One of the gardens featured in the 25th Annual Newport Beach Virtual Garden Tour, Sherman Library & Gardens’ biggest fundraiser of the year. Viewing starts Saturday, May 8.
(Photo courtesy Kimberly Bennion)

A special addition to the video tour will be the “Artist in the Garden,” featuring accomplished local artists at work capturing points of interest on canvas in the various garden settings.

Tickets for the virtual tour are $20 for members and $30 for nonmembers. Sherman Library & Gardens is also throwing an in-person Summer Garden Party. For tickets and more information on the Garden Party visit thesherman.org or call (949) 673-2261.

Changing subjects, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a community and a society, we can no longer avoid facing issues of mental health directly in front of us. As our homeless population grows, so do the challenges of finding humane treatment, support, housing and care for so many suffering mental breakdowns on our streets.

Next time you pass a person clearly in trouble, don’t just look away. Try to look inside, perhaps even reach out to any number of local organizations in the O.C. in both the private and public sectors, dedicated to all forms of treatment and rescue. Newport Beach community champion Sharon Grimes recommends checking out the work of the O.C. Rescue Mission.

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