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CASA Celebration of Children Gala Goes “Back In Time”

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Orange County, held their annual Celebration of Children: Black & White Ball, which took place on Saturday, March 10, 2018, at the Pasea Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach. 402 guests were in attendance to support CASA’s mission of serving abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Orange County with a trained and supported volunteer advocate. This year’s Gala had a net of over $1,157,000 and serves as the fourth year in a row that CASA has exceeded in breaking the previous year’s net and surpassing the million dollar threshold. This beautiful and elegant evening was planned by nine of the past gala chairs: Dana Chou, Nancy Eaton, Cathy Morrison, Lourdes Nark, Kay Patel, Urvashi Patel, Brenda St. Hilaire, Wendy Tenebaum and Lauren Wong. Evening festivities were themed “Back in Time” and guests arrived dressed in their roaring 20’s inspired attire and entered a cocktail reception featuring a silent auction with 102 tempting items to bid on and casino games to play in the hopes of winning a Pasea Hotel Weekend Getaway.

The Satin Dollz Band and dancers helped kick off the program festivities as guests made their way into the ballroom that sparkled with gold accents added to the black & white décor and amazing floral centerpieces courtesy of Paul Fenner Floral Design. James Previti and Bobbie Howe were honored as this year’s Children’s Champions for their commitment and support of CASA’s organization and mission (Bobbie Howe has served as a CASA volunteer herself since 2015). Regan Phillips, CASA CEO, presented the award for Outstanding Corporation to John Hohener, Executive Vice President (and CASA Board Member), of Microsemi for their commitment to ensuring growth and achievement for the CASA organization and helping to make our community a better place through their generous donations to many nonprofits in Orange County.

Celebration 2018 Chairs: Dana Chou, Cathy Frandsen Morrison, Brenda St. Hilaire, Lourdes Nark Lauren Wong, Nancy Eaton, Urvashi Patel, Kay Patel, Wendy Tenebaum

Dana Point resident, David Nusz, was honored as “Advocate of the Year” for his outstanding work as a CASA volunteer since 2009. David shared a heartfelt and humorous speech with the audience detailing how he benefitted from having a mentor in his life as a child, “When I was starting to head into a troubled path, he would lock me in a room in his office with my school books and sit outside making sure I was studying. He took me on the Boy Scout father/son campout and it was not until years later that I learned he hates camping. Why? Because he knew I would have been heartbroken to miss that campout because I didn’t have a dad to take me. He gave me the only job I ever had until I moved to CA to go to law school which he paid for. My 15 year old son is named Ben and my 19 year old daughter Morgan would have been named Ben if it were completely up to me. Bottom line is that I owe Ben my life, including what I have now, where I live now, my education and most importantly my desire and approach to being a CASA. It is my hope that one or more of the men I have had the pleasure of working with as a CASA or Big Brother decide to do the same. In that way, Ben’s legacy of positive influence continues. The young boys and girls served by CASA frequently come out of a long pattern of generational dysfunction that continues to proceed unabated until something, or someone, steps in and begins a new chain that shifts the despair and hopelessness in a new direction for the future. I am lucky tonight because I was provided with the opportunity to become a strong advocate for the youth to others, but more importantly, I am lucky tonight because I have been taught how creating a sense of self-worth in a young life can alter the course of their story, which is why I am a CASA”.

Auctioneer, Rick Werner, revved up the crowd for the annual Fund the Mission which hauled in over $500,000 with donations from the guests ranging from $100,000 to $500. The live auction included a Dream Vacation Home Experience at the Villa Verai in Phuket, Thailand, donated by Twila True, which fetched a $50,000 donation and then to the surprise of everyone in the ballroom – was offered again to another guest at the gala for an additional $50,000 donation going to CASA! One lucky $20,000 bidder was able to choose from one of five jewelry pieces offered by Twila True, a Diamond Sponsor and exclusive Jewelry Sponsor for this year’s gala. Following the live auction guests headed to the dance floor to continue the party and celebrate the evening’s success!

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