The Valley Line: Wine-and-cheese affair benefits Friends In Deed

Whew! I'm exhausted from the unrelenting heat. This has been quite the late-summer siege. I know that some of you thrive in this kind of weather but for me, it is torture. Here in my very old house, the slightly younger but still antiquated air conditioner tries really hard, but it just can't make it cool enough for me to get any relief. I have found myself eagerly jumping into the car to run errands just to cool off.

I'm really counting on the accuracy of our weather people, who tell us that for a few days the temps will drop into the lower 90s or high 80s, which is certainly a whole lot better than the 100-plus we have been suffering through.

Last Sunday, I was buzzing about our foothill communities as I attend first a Friends In Deed fund-raiser in Pasadena and then sped to Oakmont Country Club for an end-of-summer party for Las Candelas. Yes, I love the car's air conditioning. But, since the vent was aimed right at my face, I did get an "ice-cream" headache, the kind that hits you mid-forehead. Well, it was better than melting.

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My first stop on Sunday was at the Cheese Store of Pasadena to experience a great late-afternoon soiree called "Taste!: A Wine and Cheese Pairing," to benefit the programs of Friends In Deed, once known as the Ecumenical Council of Pasadena Area Congregations. They are dedicated to improving the quality of life for low-income and homeless people in the greater Pasadena area. Their motto is "Doing together what we cannot do alone."

It was a meaningful afternoon of networking, wine, cheese, good conversations and philanthropy honoring Pasadena City Housing Director William K. Huang for his passionate commitment to those in need. Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard was on hand to present Huang with an award and special recognition.

The Friends In Deed event committee included Richard Cheung, Pamela Marx, Katy Cashman, Jennifer Essen and Leslie Roberts. Also on hand to meet and greet was Pat O'Reilly, executive director of the Friends.

More than 160 people came to support Friends In Deed.

The Cheese Store of Pasadena is a cheese lover's haven. I have visited the store several times in order to gather exotic cheeses from Europe, as well as wonderful domestic ones.

On Sunday the store's staff prepared an amazing spread of not only wonderful cheeses, but also several kinds of salami, prosciutto, savory pâtés, olives and breads — it was a gourmet feast.

Friends in Deed's many programs include the Bad Weather Shelter, homeless prevention services, food pantry and the Women's Room, a one-of-a-kind day program meeting the needs of homeless women.

Each month its food pantry serves nearly 400 households with food that the family chooses so that vital nourishment and dignity is maintained. Last winter, more than 900 people, including families with children, ate well and slept in safety at the Bad Weather Shelter. Each summer 30 children participate in life-affirming and skill-building summer camp experiences with their support.

Throughout the year, 80 homeless and at-risk women seek comfort, food, education, health services and respectful attention to their needs through the showering, laundry, lunch and learning programs offered by the Women's Room.

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It was a lovely farewell-to-summer party that was themed "Tropical Breezes" that members of Las Candelas, with their friends and spouses, held Sunday evening at the Oakmont Country Club. The setting sun was dramatically painting the San Gabriel Mountains in shades of lavender and the wispy clouds hovering over them in pink when nearly 70 guests gathered on the clubhouse patio.

It was a time to share summer vacation stories and talk about upcoming Las Candelas plans as the organization starts up again after the summer hiatus. It was also a time to honor outgoing president Monica Sierra and welcome incoming president Jeannie Flint.

After sipping refreshing beverages guests were seated at tables centered with globe-shaped crystal bowls surrounded by shells of all shapes and sizes. Oh yes, the crystal bowls were filled with water and goldfish.

The buffet dinner was a grand offering of many island-themed foods including chicken, pork and fish enhanced by several different selections of salads and vegetable kebabs. Dessert offerings included a delicious cheesecake and mango ice cream with a pineapple sauce.

It was truly a beautiful way to celebrate the end of a good summer and welcoming a new year of working with the club's philanthropies Hillsides Education Center, Hathaway Sycamores, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, YWCA and Glendale Healthy Kids.

Among those enjoying the evening were Patti and Ron Baker, Ruth and Jerry Barrone, Carolyn and Ron Beaton, Anna and Bill Brewer, Fran and Terry Buchanan, Marilyn Butler, JC and John Byer, Carol De Paul, Jeannie Flint and Dave Werbelow, Bobbi and Sal Gangi, Marion Graydon, Sharon and John Gregg, Sharon and Doug Anderson, Linda and Bob Gregg, Debbie and Bruce Hinckley, Diane Johnson, Shirley Johnstone and Joseph King, Ann and Stan Jones, Glady and Jack Kabateck, Cathy and Bob Keen, Marcia and Jack Lytle, Patty McCormick, Val Moorhead, Marilyn and Earle Olson, Sally and Jim Perkins, Roberta Raffaelli, Harriett and Bob Rector, Diane Russell, Betty Ryan and Fred Keenan, Ellyn and Rich Semler, Monica and Jose Sierra, Ginny and John Simpson, Margaret Steenken, Nancy and Chip Stone, Kathy Walker and Ann Ways.

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JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at jnvalleysun@yahoo.com with news of your special event.

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