The Crowd: ‘Havana Nights’ fundraiser held in support of breast cancer patients

Cori Armstrong, center, a breast cancer survivor and honoree, with Jack Devlin, left, and her son Jack Armstrong.
Cori Armstrong, center, a breast cancer survivor and honoree, with Jack Devlin, left, and her son Jack Armstrong at the 14th annual Orange County Breast Cancer Fundraiser event.
(Courtesy of THE BCF)

They call their group “THE BCF,” all caps intended. THE Breast Cancer Fundraiser, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting newly-diagnosed patients, held its 14th annual event Sept. 16 at the Lido House, Newport Beach.

Producers labeled the evening by the coast “Havana Nights,” a lively cocktail reception with entertainment and an auction. Principally underwritten by sponsor Fletcher Jones, joining additional generous and passionate donors American Integrated Resources, Bacardi, COCO on the Go, and Redlands Community Hospital, among many others, making the event a financial success for breast cancer patients in need of support.

Nilo G. Low, founder and president of THE Breast Cancer Fundraiser with Charlotte Martin, a survivor and director of giving.
Nilo G. Low, founder and president of THE Breast Cancer Fundraiser with Charlotte Martin, a breast cancer survivor and director of giving for the group.
(Courtesy of THE BCF)

“THE BCF fills a gap in our current healthcare system. When a patient is newly diagnosed with breast cancer, we provide her with resources and products to help alleviate some of the challenges that she will face on her path to recovery and healing,” says Nilo G. Low, founder and president of THE BCF. “THE BCF WeCare Package is a vessel of strength and provides hope for newly-diagnosed patients. From a yoga mat and a chemo beanie to comfy socks and a neck pillow, the goal is to ensure that patients know they are not alone.”

A final nod to summer

Local treasure Sherman Library & Gardens hosted its 2022 Newport Beach Garden Tour & Summer Garden Party recently, raising more than $80,000 for the century-old library and garden in Corona del Mar.

“Guests enjoyed delicious food from 608 Dahlia restaurant, a Bouquet Bar, Posey Frame, artists in the garden painting and selling their art, and live music by Dave Aguiar & the Garden Party Players,” said Beverly Morgan, representing the library.

Mary Kennedy won a $100 gift certificate for best garden-themed hat.
Mary Kennedy won a $100 South Coast Plaza gift certificate for best garden-themed hat at the annual Sherman Gardens Event.
(Jeanine Hill Photography)

Attendees dressed in their favorite garden party hat entering the hat contest upon arrival. Judges of the hat contest were Alan Gibbons, editor of Orange Coast Magazine, Renee Raphael, a stylist with South Coast Plaza’s Styling Program, and Kathy Van Kat of Recycled Rags, a high-end clothing consignment store in Corona del Mar. Prizes were awarded to Mary Kennedy for Best Garden-Themed Hat, Pam Edmondson for Best DIY/Handmade Hat, Lorna Cohen for Hat with the Most Heart, and Emma Hennessey won for best Children’s Hat.

“A silent auction and raffle with prizes donated by area businesses, contributed towards the most successful Garden Tour in Sherman Library & Gardens’ history,” Morgan reports.

Alan Gibbons, Debra Gunn Downing, Julie Lelo and Pam Genereux at the Summer Garden Party for Sherman Library & Gardens.
Alan Gibbons, from left, Debra Gunn Downing, Julie Lelo and Pam Genereux pose in front of the living Posey Frame, created by Sherman horticulturists at the Summer Garden Party for Sherman Library & Gardens.
(Jeanine Hill Photography)

“I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of our members, volunteers and the community who continue to generously support Sherman Library & Gardens,” stated Scott LeFluer, executive director. “Proceeds from the Newport Beach Garden Tour & Summer Garden Party will support our children’s education programs, which we look forward to growing in the coming year.”

Helping families and children by design

Newport’s fashionable Decorative Arts Society (DARTS) gathered its members for a summer session to grant 13 local O.C. nonprofits a total of $275,000 in funds collected from donor gifts over the past season of lectures and receptions with noted professionals from the world of interior design, architecture, landscape design and the decorative arts. An anonymous donor increased the largess with a $60,000 gift for two additional nonprofits.

Over the past 25 years, more than $3.6 million has been raised and distributed among deserving local charities generally focused on health, family and child welfare needs in the county.

DARTS members Janet Curci, Hyla Bertea and Sharon Henwood at the recent grant presentation luncheon.
(Natalie Graham)

“The last two years have been difficult for charities not only to fundraise, but to meet the needs of the increased number of Orange County women, children and families who are at-risk or in need,” said Madeline Hayward, president of DARTS. “This year we have tried to cover children from toddlers through young adulthood as well as provide family support to help them achieve a stable household with food, parenting know how, and the life skills to provide a better future for the whole family. We’re proud to continue our grants program to help these local nonprofits provide much needed shelter, counseling, educational, and basic needs services here in Orange County.”

Madeline Hayward, president of DARTS, and Lizzy Lowe of Hope Harbor at the DARTS grants presentation luncheon.
(Natalie Graham)

DARTS grant recipients include; Breast Cancer Solutions, Build Futures, Casa Youth Shelter, Caterina’s Club, Family Support Network, Friendly Center, Fristers, Homeless Intervention Services, Hope Builders, Laura’s House, Laurel House/Hope Harbor, South County Outreach and Women’s Transitional Living Center. The additional $60,000 donor gift will help fund two special projects, including a new van for Caterina’s Kitchen, which will distribute meals to children around Orange County, and a safe new play yard for children at the Women’s Transitional Living Center.

For more information on the Decorative Arts Society and membership opportunities, visit

A bed for every child

Serving People In Need (SPIN) will throw its annual gala Oct. 7 at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, Corona del Mar.

Billed as an evening in “The Spirit of Giving,” SPIN advocates will gather to raise funds in support of permanent housing for O.C. families with children in need of help keeping the family together under one roof.

Kim Frazier, director of events, shares the mission statement of the nonprofit: “A home is a starting place of hope and dreams.”

In 2021 SPIN assisted 750 households (1,800 adults and 1,630 children) find permanent homes. Major support for SPIN comes from Richard and Kim Crawford, Curtis and Jill Scheetz, Wayne and Mary Lou Shattuck, Maureen Flannagan, Rachel Owens, Al and Susan DeGrassi, Craig and Kate Domagala, Charles and Regina Granville, Michael and Tara Gilmore and Gazal Pour-Moezzi, among many others.

A fab night at the Fun Zone set for Nov. 4

The Balboa Island Museum of Newport Beach prepares to take over the Fun Zone on the Peninsula for an annual Fun Zone Festival on Friday, Nov. 4, promising to be the most fabulous frolic of the fall on the bayfront playground.

The party unfolds at 6 p.m. with specialty cocktails and amazing dinner stations, created by O.C. caterer and party planner extraordinaire Linda Young of Elite OC Productions. Wild and crazy entertainment, stilt walker and jesters, and a live concert will follow.

As the crowd wanders the attractions and the iconic amusements, funds raised will benefit the much-loved Balboa Island Museum, its exhibits and year-round programs open to all.

Museum executives Shirley Pepys and daughter Tiffany Pepys Hoey put heart and soul into the annual party as it is the most important fundraiser of the year supporting the museum. To date, Julia Argyros and the Argyros Family Foundation have stepped forward once again generously underwritten a portion of the cost. Additional support is needed.

Tickets are $200, including all food, drinks, carnival games and prizes, entertainment, and priceless date night fun. Go to for more information and tickets.

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