Despite gray skies and a misty drizzle that became a steady rain for at least an hour into the event, hundreds of supporters attended the 49th annual AbilityFirst Food and Wine Festival Sunday, held at the historic Laurabelle A. Robinson house.
The damp but celebratory evening honored former South Pasadena Mayor and current Board Chair David Saeta, with the organization’s “Visionary” award.
Also in attendance were LA County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and State Assemblymember Chris Holden, both of whom presented proclamations to honoree Saeta..
“Being born and raised in the area,” said Supervisor Barger, “I’ve seen AbilityFirst grow and really adapt to the changes, both in state and local laws, as it relates to the needs of the developmentally disabled, and I have to say that I am so impressed with their work, not only in the way they are expanding, but also the way they include the families and the community.”
Assemblymember Holden was equally proud of AbilityFirst, saying, “Ability First is one of the leading organizations that “ve had the opportunity to work with. As a partner in the community, we try, in Sacramento, to find ways to help groups that work with the developmentally disabled, thrive. Pasadena is home to some amazing organizations, with volunteers that are second to none, and this is a way to celebrate each other.”
Awardee Saeta, a senior vice president at IDS Real Estate, was brief in his acceptance remarks, but said later, “This is not about me, it’s about what the organization does. I’m really happy that I am able to contribute and expressly use real estate to deal with some of the issues that we face with the organization, and provide some leadership to a really talented board of directors, to help AbilityFirst execute in the best way they possibly can, to even more participants.”
As noted on their website, “AbilityFirst provides a variety of programs designed to help people with disabilities achieve their personal best throughout their lives, by creating targeted programming to help an individual successfully transition from childhood to adult life.”
The expansive Robinson home, where the evening was held, was commissioned in 1905 by lawyer and financier Henry Robinson and his wife, Laurabelle, and was designed by architects Greene and Greene. Henry Robinson was instrumental in developing the Huntington Library, California Institute of Technology, and the Mount Palomar Observatory.
Phaedra and Mark Ledbetter purchased the dilapidated estate in 1998, and restored it in a 6 ½ year process, while living in the carriage house. The house looks west over the Arroyo Seco with sunset views of the historic Colorado Street Bridge and San Gabriel Mountains.
For more about AbilityFirst and its commendable work, visit https://www.abilityfirst.org/