Hillsides Gala Raises $408,000 for Children and Families

Vince and Judy Dundee, Gina and Rod GuerraTessa Matthews, 2016 Rose Princess Donaly Marquez, Ignacio Marquez, Sara MarquezSusan Blaisdell and John McAniffRayvon Owen, 2016 Rose Princess Donaly Marquez, and Joe CostaRayvon Owen, Amy Wallace, J. Dale HarveyRick Tennill, Hillsides Chief Financial Officer Ryan Herren, and Hillsides Chief Executive Officer Joe CostaRachael Worby, Paul Rusnak, gala chair Annette Ermshar, Fritz Coleman, and Hillsides board chair Brent MasonRaffa Sanchez and Amy Ley Sanchez, Hillsides Behavioral Health Division DirectorMary Bruno, Bishop J. Jon Bruno, Marge Telleen, Sherm TelleenNancy Wilson and Geoff BywaterHillsides Gala Raises $408,000 for Children and FamiliesHillsides Gala Raises $408,000 for Children and FamiliesDrew Pinsky and Colleen WilliamsDrew Pinsky, Susan Pinsky, gala chair Annette Ermshar, Dan MonahanDee Fisher, Liz Arizmendi, Pat OlivierDonna and Henri Ford, Mary Dee HackerBryce and Stacy CanfieldDan Monahan and gala chair Annette ErmsharAlessia Cicconi, Fritz Coleman, Kati FarinaAmerican Idol Top 4 Finalist Rayvon Owen and 2016 Rose Princess Donaly MarquezBerick Treidler and Lian DolanBrady and Briana CushmanSusan Blaisdell and John McAniffNicola and Tom Miller


3:50 pm | March 1, 2016

Hillsides raised $408,000 at its annual gala, Symphony of Dreams, held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on Saturday night, February 27, 2016. A crowd of more than 400 guests enjoyed an evening of top musical performances, a spirited live auction hosted by NBC4 Southern California Weathercaster Fritz Coleman, and an emotional testimonial by a Hillsides client, 2016 Rose Princess Donaly Marquez.

“We’d like to thank everyone who supported Symphony of Dreams, which is Hillsides largest fundraiser of the year,” said Hillsides Chief Executive Officer Joseph M. Costa. “The funds will be used to help the more than 6,200 children and families we serve throughout Los Angeles County.”

The gala kicked off with a performance by the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Young Men’s Ensemble, who serenaded guests as they entered the hall. As dinner started, 2015 “American Idol” Top 4 Finalist Rayvon Owen warmed up the crowd with a spirited rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” and later performed an original song about the redeeming power of love, “Rescue.”

The emotional high point of the evening was the speech by Rose Princess Marquez. She told of a harrowing childhood spent on the streets with an abusive mother before she and her siblings were adopted. In high school, when her traumatic past began to catch up to her, she reached out to Hillsides for counseling.

Marquez credits her Hillsides therapist with giving her the courage to try out for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court, calling the therapist her mentor and inspiration. “I truly believe Hillsides has not only opened up doors for me, but has also assisted me in trying to find myself in the midst of everything else,” she said.

During the evening, guests also had a chance to bid on 11 packages during the live auction emceed by Coleman.

Symphony of Dreams was chaired by Dr. Annette Ermshar, a Pasadena-based clinical psychologist who is active in the local music community and who added many unique musical elements to the event.

Sponsors of the gala included Avery Dennison, Beth Gertmenian, Bolton & Company, Don and Sally Clark, Kaiser Permanente, Kim and Rob Shepherd, Linda and Stephen Gill, Paul Rusnak/Rusnak Auto Group, Sherm and Marge Telleen, The Havner Family Foundation, The Swanton Family Foundation, The Walt Disney Company, and Western Asset Management. The gorgeous flower arrangements for the evening were donated by Jacob Maarse Florists.

The gala was held in the hotel’s “Biltmore Bowl,” the site of eight Oscar ceremonies in the 1930s and ‘40s during Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Hillsides founded in 1913 and headquartered in Pasadena, is a premier provider of child welfare services serving families in crisis and children in foster care. For more information about Hillsides, please visit www.hillsides.org.