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The Crowd: CASA ‘Black & White’ ball raises more than $1 million

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) celebrated its 2016 “Black & White” ball on April 16, raising an impressive $1,050,000. The seven-figure funds will benefit CASA’s training program for volunteer mentor-advocates assisting children under 18 who are in need of legal representation and support.

The elegant party — held at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel — attracted a crowd of 400 guests in black-tie finery who were donating at least $1,000 per person to attend the affair. Chaired by Loudres Nark, Kay Patel, Urvashi Patel and Wendy Tenebaum, the event was produced with exquisite detail.

A cocktail reception and silent auction kicked off the evening. More than 115 items grabbed the attention of donors. It was only a hint of what was to come in the live auction, which featured fabulous jewelry, exotic travel and unparalleled dining experiences.

Auction items sold briskly for $10,000, $20,000, $50,000 — and up.


Former USC and pro football player Paul McDonald emceed the evening that honored local “Children’s Champions” Kylie Schuyler and Douglas M. Hodge. Janice Jefferson was named CASA Advocate of the Year. Applied Medical took a nod as Outstanding Corporation.

Keynote speaker Lauren Leeman, a former foster youth introduced to the services of CASA as a young woman facing the legal system, is today working with the organization in her home state of Colorado.

She shared, “The adults I had trusted let me down, time and again, disappearing when my life was challenging — or worse, making it more painful.”

She continued, “I was afraid and trusted no one.”


Leeman went on to say that her CASA advocate/mentor Stephanie changed her life. “Her job was to be my advocate,” Leeman added, “but she became so much more. She saved my life.”

To learn more about CASA, please visit

SPIN participates in annual philanthropy giving day

It is all about protecting and preserving the family unit. Homelessness ravages individuals. It can wipe out a family, potentially split its members apart and break them up forever.

In the O.C., Serving People In Need (SPIN) declares, “We love families; we believe in families, they are the foundation of our culture, our society, our American values.” The Costa Mesa-based organization, serving individuals and families facing homelessness now for 27 years, held an open house midweek in conjunction with the iHeartOC Giving day Thursday and Friday.

SPIN was among the participants raising seriously needed dollars to be used for placement of O.C. citizens about to live in their car (if they still have one), a motel room (if they can afford one) or on the street (if they are brave and desperate).

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Jean Wegener, executive director of SPIN for 25 years, comments, “Housing is very scarce in the O.C.. Inexpensive, clean, safe apartments are now really tough to find, but we do find them for our clients. It takes around $5,000 for every move-in.”


To this end, donors to SPIN are assured that some 92% of every dollar donated goes directly to housing costs.

SPIN donors and supporters shared a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres, catered by the celebrated Zov, that helped raise the radio tally of donations on I Heart Radio. Kim Frazier, director of development, joined some major SPIN advocates — including Kim and Dick Crawford, Joe Huffington, Charlie and Regina Grandville and Al DeGrassi — in making a difference for the nonprofit agency.

To learn more about SPIN, please visit

Who doesn’t love horses on the beach?

Peninsula Park in Newport Beach, adjacent to the Balboa Pier, will be transformed into a polo field for the afternoon of May 1 for a women’s polo tournament on the shore.

Local Newport ladies and polo champs will exhibit skills and face teams from Beverly Hills, Hollywood and a celebrity contingent. Sponsored in part by the Schweiger and Harn foundations, and produced by the American Polo Assn. led by commissioner Michael Farah, the exhibition will also include a ladies polo “hat” contest.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Farah’s Celebrity Foundation for Children.

For tickets, information and sponsorship, please contact Rhonda at (949) 719-2625. Go to for more information on the charity connection.


O.C.'s ‘Life Without Limits’ gala

The United Cerebral Palsy ambassador families at the 2016 gala held at the Balboa Bay Resort.
(Courtesy Jon Didier Photography / Daily Pilot)

It was black tie at the Balboa Bay Resort on April 2 for the “Life Without Limits” gala supporting United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (CPOC). More than 300 donors raised nearly $500,000, an impressive effort for the nonprofit that serves some 4,000 children and families afflicted by cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, Down syndrome and other developmental issues.

A red carpet entrance at the resort welcomed the crowd who had come to honor David Horowitz and Diana Dowers, two very special advocates who have made a serious difference in the lives of many young people in the O.C.

Chaired by Kim Letch and Michele Maryott, major support for the event came from the Allergan Foundation, Argyros Family Foundation, the Horowitz Group, DLD Insurance Brokers, Inc. and more. Board chairman for CPOC, James Corbett, greeted VIPs including David Ball, Ray Chao, Bob Cluck, Chris Dubia, Douglas Ingram, Dennis Kuhl, Jon Moller and David Pyott, all prominent local business leaders lending both their names and financial backing.

Another local VIP Mike Tenerelli was singled out for his extensive commitment to the cause.

The California Band entertained as dinner was served in the BBR grand ballroom. Visit for more information.

Calling all philanthropists

The 2016 National Philanthropy Day Orange County Awards Luncheon is set for Nov. 17 at Hotel Irvine. The committee in charge has issued a call for submissions seeking outstanding philanthropic leaders in the community who deserve recognition.

The Orange County chapter of the Assn. of Fundraising Professionals will review nominations in many categories, including individuals, businesses, corporations, schools, nonprofits and youth groups to determine awards for 2016.

The deadline for submissions is May 31. Go to for more information.


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