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The Crowd: Salvation Army O.C. gala raises $2.2 million toward bringing its Center of Hope to life

Jay Leno has the audience roaring laughter at the "A Night For Others" fundraiser in Newport Beach.
Entertainer Jay Leno has the audience roaring laughter at the “A Night For Others” fundraiser held by the Salvation Army Orange Count at Balboa Bay Resort, Newport Beach. About $2.2 million was raised for the Center of Hope to serve the O.C. homeless population.
(Amory Coleman-Reeves)
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Jay Leno left Beverly Hills and showed up in Newport Beach behind the wheel of his car, although he confessed, he would have preferred his motorcycle.

The former “The Tonight Show” host came with all his best lines to entertain the crowd of some 400 strong, all local supporters of the Salvation Army Orange County.

The evening at Balboa Bay Resort, Newport Bach was billed as a “Night For Others,” and that it was. The purpose of the party was to raise much needed funds for the development and construction of the Army’s Center for Hope complex in Anaheim supporting local homeless people. An impressive $2.2 million was donated for the massive project.

Jay Leno with  Doug and Colleen Riley; Kelly and Donna Igleheart, and John and Lani Chamness.
Jay Leno with Salvation Army Commissioners Doug and Colleen Riley, Cols. Kelly and Donna Igleheart and Lt. Cols. John and Lani Chamness at “A Night For Other’s” benefiting the Salvation Army Orange County for its planned Center of Hope.
(Amory Coleman-Reeves)

The Center of Hope is impressive. The planned facility combines a 325-bed low barrier emergency shelter with 72 permanent supportive housing apartments. It will also offer onsite medical and dental care, as well as a 175-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

“The new Center of Hope will take many people off the street and bring them into direct contact with a loving God. What joy to be able to support such an effort,” said donor Peter Ochs, who was joined at the event by his wife, Gail.

O.C. philanthropist Judy Threshie added, “There is clearly a growing need for homeless shelters in Orange County. The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope will help fulfill that need.”

The project is an ambitious example of community-based support in conjunction with the city of Anaheim. Under the umbrella of the faith-based nonprofit Salvation Army Orange County, the Center of Hope addresses a societal disgrace that government alone has not successfully managed. Given such a partnership, there has been controversy. The dire need, however, has overshadowed critics.

Advisory board member, Larry Buster and guests with the Salvation Army Orange County's mascot, Sal, at "A Night for Others."
Advisory board member Larry Buster and his guests pose with the Salvation Army Orange County’s mascot, Sal, at “A Night for Others.”
(Amory Coleman-Reeves)

This public-private partnership has received major financial support from a cross-section of the O.C. business and professional community. Specific business sponsors for the “Night for Others” fundraiser included title sponsor Rainbow Sandals joined by Caribou Industries, Swinerton, Spidell, Curt Pringle & Associates, Direct Finance, Kardent, I -IMG and Cardinal.

Many sponsors joined Salvation Army board members and friends at large including Alyson Barker, Don Cullen, Jonathon Hallstead, Cecilia Hong, David Melilli, Chuck Rooney, Richard Schmid, Nancy Thompson, and Ron and Jill Meer.

The evening began with a cocktail reception followed by a gourmet three-course dinner prepared by Executive Chef Prabeen Prathapan. A live auction brought in the major donations, all matched by a $1 million gift. Leno took the stage to close the night and raised the bar in spirit and sentiment.

“When my mom came to this country, she was a recipient of help from the Salvation Army,” Leno told the crowd. “She always talked so highly of it.”

Leno also stepped up for the cause. “I’d like to do my part in supporting the wonderful work of the Salvation Army by auctioning private tours to my garage. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Army’s work serving the needy,” he said.

The Salvation Army Orange County team smiles for a photo after a successful evening at "A Night For Others."
The Salvation Army Orange County team smiles for a photo after a successful evening at “A Night For Others,” benefiting the Center of Hope in Anaheim that will serve members of the county’s homeless population.
(Amory Coleman-Reeves)

“But before I do that, I thought I can’t ask you to give your money without making a personal contribution myself.” Leno then handed Salvation Army Major Nesan Kistan a check for $10,000.

Center of Hope is a $110-million public/private venture with the goal of ending chronic homelessness in Orange County. For more information, visit salvationarmy.org.

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