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Column: The Crowd: Supporters come out for Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care

Liz Maxson, Jackie Glass, Carol Lincoln and Joyce Macardican turn out for the winter gathering of the Adoption Guild in Newport Beach.
(Photo courtesy of Ann Chatillon)

It was a celebration of family. A super-dedicated group of volunteers gathered in support of the Adoption Guild of Southern California in the ballroom of the Balboa Bay Resort, Newport Beach. They came to celebrate the 58th annual patroness event, which raises funds and rallies support for Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care in Orange County.

Two hundred ladies and gentlemen came together to send a message that children are created in the image of God, and that their care is the responsibility of any and every adult — especially those children in need of a family.

The tone of the Adoption Guild Patroness event focused on the positive aspects of counseling pregnant women in a variety of situations on their choices concerning the best possible outcome for mother and unborn child. Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care Agency in Orange County is dedicated to providing extensive one-on-one counseling to all seeking assistance.

Clearly, the agency’s goal is to avoid the option of abortion, as many patients come forward unsure of what choice is best for them. Through extensive counseling, options are fully laid out and, in the course, therapy is provided to those who need support during a period of emotional stress. Many women often change their minds multiple times until they decide.


Cathy O’Neil, Sherry Hunter, Julie Reynolds and Ryann Carissimo gather in support of the Adoption Guild.
(Photo courtesy of Ann Chatillon)

In keeping with the spirit of the HFS mission, Susan Chakmakian, HFS board chairwoman, introduced a family who recently adopted a now 3-month-old infant. The adoptive mother and father shared their personal journey with Holy Family Services while holding their new son in their arms.

Adoption Guild President Chris Garber joined mistress of ceremonies Patrice Werschmidt in welcoming guests for the luncheon, silent auction and fashion presentation. The elegant affair was co-chaired by Christine Johnson and Michelle Swift working with a committee that included Julie Reynolds, Pam Selber, Tina Retrosi, Pam Fossler, Angela Grasso, Marcy Sargenti, Nancy Collins, Sheila Forsum and Ryann Carissimo.

Donors were seated at round tables covered in winter white linen centered with tower displays of fanciful petit fours and assorted delicacies topped with a bouquet of winter blooms and hearts representing the symbolic logo of the Adoption Guild. Major benefactors included Jackie Glass, Bob and Britt Meyer, Pam Selber, Stephen and Pam Fossler, Jeannie Hidey, Christine Johnson, and Ed and Angela Grasso. Generous corporate benefactors included William Harold & Sons Jewelers, OC Breakers, Landsea Homes, Grayse fashions, among others.


Marie Gray and daughter Kelly Gray of Grayse presented a twist on the traditional fashion show element of the charity luncheon. Rather than the obligatory models walking the runway, they joined fashion arbiter Susan Stein addressing the crowd on the evolution of fashion. Joining professional models on the runway were volunteers representing the patroness membership program. William Squire, stylist and former model, presented a program on makeup, posture and runway etiquette.

Major event contributors included Charles Durnial, Karen Knoche, Judy Guerra, Sunny Park, Patricia Houston and Ruth Fitzgerald. A significant portion of the financial success of the event came from generous silent auction donors and vendor boutiques set up as pop-up stores in the foyer of the Balboa Bay Resort. Grayse joined Joyfit, G2G Designs and BellaFit in donating a portion of sale proceeds to the Adoption Guild.

Spotted in the crowd and shopping at vendor boutiques was classy local real estate agent Carol Lee and Heidi Miller, owner of Tight Assets in Laguna Beach, and Jeannie Lawrence, owner of the Rancho Las Lomas event center. Janie Merkle, Sue Podnay, Harriett Selna, Joyce White, Suzanne Wyrick, Mia Zucht and Shan Vincent also made appearances. Another local real estate star (and always best dressed) Adrienne Brandes attended as well.

For information on the Adoption Guild in support of Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care, visit or email

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.