Hillsides Gala Hillsides Uncorked! Raises More Than $580,000 for Pasadena-Based Charity

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STAFF | With Special Thanks to ALISON BELL and HILLSIDES

5:10 pm | March 2, 2015


[Updated Monday, March 3, 2015  |  5:36 p.m. ]  Hillsides, a premier provider dedicated to improving the overall well-being and functioning of vulnerable children, youth, and families, raised an estimate of more than $580,000 from its annual gala, Hillsides Uncorked!, held Saturday night, February 28, at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena. More proceeds are still coming in so the amount may go higher. A sold-out crowd of 425 enjoyed an evening devoted to fine wine and food that included a live auction hosted by NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman, a moving speech by a former Hillsides resident, and dancing.

Part of the funds raised were from a paddle auction for the agency’s $12 million capital campaign to improve its Pasadena campus that raised more than $87,500. This amount was doubled due to matching funds for a total of more than $175,000. Paddle auction amounts are still coming in, so this amount may go higher as well.

“We are thrilled by the success of Hillsides Uncorked! and I would like to thank all of those people involved who helped make it so successful,” said Joseph M. Costa, Hillsides chief executive officer. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and the funds raised will go a long way to create lasting change in the lives of the almost 9,000 children and families that Hillsides serves.”

The gala was co-hosted by local restaurateurs Robert and Deborah Simon, owners of Pasadena restaurants Bistro 45 and a/k/a Bistro. They collaborated with The Langham executive chef Denis Depoitre to create a delicious menu of fresh and sustainable organic meats, produce, and seafood.

Guests were greeted with a signature cocktail of ginger beer and Selvarey White called “The Dancing Juice,” a cornucopia of artisan cheeses, crudités, dried fruit, and nuts, and a seafood station as well as several passed appetizers. Dinner was heirloom tomatoes and sliced burrata, grilled organic asparagus with garlic aioli, slow braised all natural beef short ribs, celery apple puree, Brussels Sprouts with tarragon, oven baked spaghetti squash, and Pinot Noir reduction. A selection of desserts were served family-style, and in addition guests were offered a donut station with chocolate and caramel dipping sauces.

One highlight of the evening was a speech by former Hillsides resident Briana Elliott, who lived at Hillsides residential treatment program from 2003-2005. Elliott spoke about a traumatic past filled with multiple foster care placements when at the age of 13, she came to live at Hillsides. “When I got to Hillsides, I was refreshed with the friendly staff that were real and loving from day one,” she said. “Hillsides brought back hope, trust and compassion for the world around me.” She also thanked the volunteers and donors in the room, concluding, “You are all such beautiful, kind people.”

The live auction emceed by NBC Weathercaster Fritz Coleman was another high point of the evening. Under Coleman’s comedic banter, guests bid on 10 spectacular packages. One – a week-long stay at a Deer Valley mansion that accommodates up to 18 guests – was so spectacular that it was auctioned off twice. Lucky winners also took home an oval tanzanite pendant set in white gold with diamonds and a pink sapphire created by Barbara Poer Designs, a cocktail party for 20 in the rose garden at the Maarse estate, a week stay in a penthouse condo in New York City, a signed guitar by Nancy Wilson of the rock band Heart, and two front row seats to the Elton John “The Million Dollar Piano” show in Las Vegas with accommodations and dinner for two, among other live auction packages.

Sponsors of the gala included Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, Avery Dennison, Bolton & Company, Don and Sally Clark, Beth Gertmenian, Linda and Stephen Gill, The Havner Family Foundation, Jacob Maarse Florists – Mrs. Jacob Maarse and Hank Maarse, Kaiser Permanente, Brent and Leah Mason, Nordstrom, Paul Rusnak/Rusnak Auto Group, Sherm and Marge Telleen, Swanton Family Foundation, The Walt Disney Company, and Western Asset Management.

Tickets to the event were $300 per person. The Langham Huntington, Pasadena is located at 401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106.

Hillsides provides high quality care, advocacy and innovative services that promote safe, permanent environments where young people can thrive. Hillsides has locations in 19 Southern California sites, ranging from the Hollywood Hills to Echo Park to Baldwin Park to Pomona. For more information on Hillsides gala or Hillsides, please visit www.hillsides.org.