The Valley Line: Hillsides Guild celebrates the holidays


I hope your Christmas Eve and Day were joyful ones. Mine certainly was as I was with my daughter Heather and her kids, Catherine and Ryan, along with my son Christopher and his kids, Aidan, Lucan and Morgan.

The Hillsides Guild, a support group of the foster care charity Hillsides, hosted a sold-out holiday celebration at the Parkway Grill in Pasadena.

Some 150 guests exchanged in lively conversation, cocktails, appetizers, dinner and a holiday performance by the renowned Citrus Singers of Citrus College in the holiday-adorned restaurant voted “One of America’s Top Tables” by Gourmet magazine.

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The dinner was chaired by Guild members Donna De Mond and Patty McAllister. Guild president Cathy Brennan welcomed the crowd while Hillsides Board President Donna Ford thanked everyone for coming on behalf of the board of directors. The Rt. Rev. Joseph Jon Bruno, the Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, gave the blessing for the evening.

The Hillsides Guild Holiday Celebration at the Parkway Grill is an annual event to kick off the holidays and raise awareness for Hillsides.

Attending the event were many Hillsides board members, including Don Clark and his wife Sally, Robert Shepherd and his wife Kim, LeeAnn Havner, and Steve Nishibayashi and his wife Mary Dee Hacker.

Gregg Smith, co-owner of Smith Brothers Restaurant Corp. that owns the Parkway Grill, was also in attendance, as were Hillsides’ chief executive, Joseph M. Costa; its chief advancement officer Carrie Espinoza and Hillsides’ director of major gifts and planned giving Jackie Broxton.

Guild members who attended included Phyllis D’Ambra, Janet Jack, Aline Kuhnle, Armida Baylon, Ruthie Munoz, Lyn Spector, Barbara Robison, Maureen Staley, Cathy Sedlik and Elizabeth Keller.

Sherri Ginsberg, Hillsides’ librarian, was also a guest. Ginsberg was just awarded an “I Love My Librarian” award by the American Library Assn. during a ceremony in New York City on Nov. 30.

Ginsberg was one of 10 librarians in the nation to receive this award out of some 1,100 nominees. Author and former Hillsides board member Dianne Dixon was among the attendees as well. Dixon, who was the featured speaker at the recent Hillsides Circle of Excellence award dinner honoring donors and volunteers, recently published her latest novel, “The Other Sister.”

Several items were raffled off during the evening. The lucky winners were Mireya and Larry Jones, dinner for four at Seco restaurant; Valerie Casey, dinner for four at Smitty’s restaurant; Nancy McGuire, dinner for four at the Parkway Grill; April Danz, dinner for four at the Arroyo Chop House; and John and Ida Hitchcock, a decorative Santa from Jacob Maarse Florists.

It was a lovely and joyful evening.

Oakmont League of Glendale’s annual Christmas party was held at the home of member Chloe Ross. Her home was festive and beautifully decorated from top to bottom with her extensive collection of Santa Claus figures. There was even one Santa that was about 7 feet tall!

Barbara McCullough chaired the event with the hostess, Ross. Guests enjoyed many hot and cold appetizers catered by Franks Famous Kitchen and Catering in Glendale.

Music was provided by violinists Cole Davis and Martin Alazar. About 50 members and spouses attended the party and all brought toys for Glendale Fire Department’s Toys for Tots program.

Now that Christmas is in the rear-view mirror we can all focus on rooting for the La Cañada Flintridge float, “Backyard Rocketeer” when it appears in Monday’s Rose Parade. Happy New Year!


JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at