The Crowd: Helping girls be strong, successful

Girls Inc. of Orange County and the Girls Inc. Guild presented "Imagine," their 2010 annual fundraising benefit, held at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort, Newport Beach.

Since 1954, Girls Inc. of Orange County has been dedicated to assisting young women from all walks of life in the community. It gives them the skills to be "confident, successful and independent women," offers the mission statement of the organization. Fundraising is the key to providing the services of age-appropriate educational assistance, and the recent gala at the Balboa Bay Club will go a long way in helping the organization reaching its annual fundraising goal approaching $350,000.

The evening was also about honoring two women who stand for the Girls Inc. inspirational motto of being "strong, smart and bold women."

Harriett Sandhu and Eve Kornyei were honored with the "Bravo Award" by Girls Inc. Guild president Laura Baratta who joined her co-chairwoman for the evening, Julie Grad. Mistress of ceremonies for the party was celebrity chef Jamie Gwen, radio talk show host on KFWB. Host committee members deserving recognition included Linda Lamitie, Marsha Orlin, Sue Stern, Irene Ziebarth, Pam Adams, Gianna Drake-Kerrison and Kate Evans, to name only a few.

The Friday-night affair began with a VIP cocktail reception overlooking the harbor. The ballroom opened for dinner service at 7 p.m., with the band in full swing and the crowd hitting the dance floor. Special guests of the evening included the introduction of Gena Reed as president and chairman of Girls Inc., Lucy Santana and Mitzi Hermann. One young lady shared her personal Girls Inc. experience with the audience receiving heartfelt applause from the crowd.

Major donors included Newport's Zee Allred, Michelle Rohé, Diana and Tim Ryan, Robert Follmann, and the Law Office of William M. Weinberg. Neiman Marcus represented by Michaele Hall donated the guest gift bags for the entire crowd.


The Balboa Bay Club & Resort was also the setting for the recent fall fundraiser on behalf of an organization known as Human Options. The luncheon gathering was created around the appearance of New York Times bestselling author Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of "Crazy Love."

The Harvard graduate tells a very personal tale in her book about falling in love and entertaining a "fairy-tale marriage," only to become the survivor of an abusive and violent relationship. Human Options organizers billed the luncheon as "From Love, To Fear, To Sanity," tying in directly with the mission of Human Options, which is "helping battered women and their families to survive and recover from abusive relationships and build new lives."

Co-chaired by Nancy Dahan and Scharrell Talley Jackson, the overflow crowd of some 460 attendees donated $150 per person and more to support the organization. For more than 28 years in Orange County, Human Options has been working to stop the cycle of domestic violence. By the end of the afternoon, Human Options netted $190,000 to support its programs.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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