Ascencia's eighth Anniversary Gala committee to support the homeless pulled out all the stops at Union Station in Los Angeles. But no guest was railroaded into attending this event — there was something for everyone.
Last Saturday, the station's Main Concourse Room was the art-deco setting for Ascencia's party with the theme "All Aboard."
Once "aboard," more than 300 community leaders were treated to the clever quips of master of ceremonies Marc Brown of ABC7 Eyewitness News, who began a quick-paced program.
First up was Brown's introduction of Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver, who said his upcoming 75th birthday matched the opening of Union Station 75 years ago. He remembers his parents buying tickets at counters in the main concourse, now turned into a ballroom for the gala.
After dinner, the heart of the evening was devoted to the Hope and Compassion Awards presented by Ascencia Board President Gene "Chip" Stone.
First at the podium was Dunson Cheng, board chairman, president and chief executive of Cathay Bank, which was established in Los Angeles in 1962 and was the first bank founded by Chinese Americans in Southern California.
Cheng was presented with a Hope and Compassion Award for his support of Ascencia as board member and co-vice chair for Ascencia's capital campaign committee.
Stone next presented a Hope and Compassion Award to Nick Lam, vice president of Pacific BMW in Glendale. Lam was Ascencia's board president for seven years. He led the fundraising efforts to the tune of $4 million that resulted in a new building for Ascencia on Tyburn Street in Glendale. The grand opening is scheduled for spring.
Another star of the evening was guest speaker Ascencia client Shanesha Franklin. Her background included living in 17 different foster homes over seven years. A year ago, single mother Franklin and her toddler son were homeless. Ascencia provided shelter and services. Today, Franklin has completed her associate's degree at Pasadena City College and was named Employee of the Month as a student worker.
In addition to Mayor Weaver, Glendale movers and shakers applauding the honorees included City Council members Laura Friedman, Frank Quintero and Zareh Sinanyan, City Manager Scott Ochoa, new Glendale Police Department Chief Robert Castro and Glendale Fire Department Interim Chief Greg Fish.
The evening ended too soon with a lively auction led by auctioneer Jeff Tanenbaum and an opportunity ticket drawing. The big winner was Cynthia Castro, wife of Police Chief Castro. She bagged a $500 shopping spree at the Glendale Galleria.
A little earlier, the lucky Castros won a "staycation" — two nights in a suite at the Residences at the Americana at Brand.
Closing remarks were given by Debbie Hinckley, gala chairperson and Ascencia board member.
"Ascencia's goal is to end homelessness, one person, one family at a time," she said.
The evening was expected to raise over $200,000 to support the agency's emergency shelter, housing and support services for more than 1,200 homeless men, women and children each year.
Also last Saturday, Weaver's services were needed when he cut the ribbon unveiling the new Community Courtyard Patio during a pancake breakfast held by the Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School Dads' Club.
Dozens of parents and children turned out for pancakes and raffle prizes.
Dads' Club Board President Mark Bohman said the patio's $25,000 price tag was funded by Verdugo Woodlands parents, neighbors and community businesses.
Patio bricks with an inscription of the donor's choice are being sold for $125 to $500, since Dads' Club members want to extend the patio about a dozen yards to the street. It'll take a whole bunch more bricks for that — about $15,000 worth. To donate, go on vwdadsclub.com with the link "About Us" to buy your brick.
RUTH SOWBY may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.