‘Back to School’ in the Best Way

Circle of Friends benefit for Kidspace returns with generous guests and supporters
Published on Feb 6, 2023

It was the best part of going back to school on Saturday night as Circle of Friends held its annual benefit for Kidspace Saturday evening at the Jonathan Club. 

Hundreds of Circle of Friends members and supporters were tricked out in every kind of school outfit, from prom queens to cheerleaders to goth kids, to surfer dudes and skate punks.

The foyer of the Jonathan Club’s grand ballroom, where the event was held, was the designated “attendance office,“ as guests checked in and checked each other out, just like in high school. 

“This is my first event like this,” said Kidspace Executive Director Lisa Clements. “When I first came aboard at Kidspace, the pandemic was just beginning, and we couldn’t have events like this one. That’s why it is so exciting to have this here tonight.”

Clements was dressed spiffily as a drum major, as was her Kidspace staff. As Clements explained, their original idea to come to the party as a dodgeball team, was waylaid when the manufacturer failed to deliver the product in time. A resourceful Circle of Friends member got on the phone, and located uniforms at a local high school, just in time.

Laughed Clements, “When we got the uniforms, we thought they were maroon, but then we had them all dry cleaned, and we realized that they were actually red.”

Following the boisterous reception in the lobby, guests filled the ballroom for dinner after perusing the scores of silent auction items, ranging from overnight stays at the Jonathan Club to Santa Barbara and Hawaiian vacations to police ride alongs, and sports memorabilia, as well as a host of restaurant offerings.

Clements effusively thanked Circle of Friends for their generous donations, saying, “The only reason this happens is because all of you make it happen.”

Following dinner, the exuberant live auction, led by auctioneer Sean Endicott, raised more than $50,000 for just six items, on top of the money raised by the many silent auction items. Endicott also managed to secure a bounty of one-time cash donations from the happy guests.  

Since its inception in 1991, Circle of Friends has supported Kidspace Children’s Museum’s annual fund and access programs through fundraising and volunteering. Past themes have included British Invasion, Boots & Bling, Vegas Baby, Awesome 80’s, Superheroes, and so many more. 

Proceeds from the 2023 Circle of Friends Benefit will directly support the museum’s programming. 

Kidspace Children’s Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational and cultural institution committed to serving the needs and interests of children and families. 

Kidspace hosts nearly 380,000 guests each year on a beautiful, 3.5-acre outdoor campus with more than 40 hands-on exhibits, a live animal collection, and a variety of creative play spaces and water features. Kidspace offers a wide array of free and discounted programs, field trips, and digital resources for schools to maximize access for children and educators.

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