‘Surf’s Up’ in Sierra Madre

Five Acres celebrates 136 years of children and family services in Southern California
Published on May 22, 2024

It was “California” in California on Saturday evening as Five Acres celebrated 136 years of helping children and families in the San Gabriel Valley and Southern California, with their “California Dreamin’” annual fundraising gala.

The soiree, for about 300 guests, was held at the impressive home of Meghan and Monte Baier in the hills of Sierra Madre,  with a sweeping view of the Valley, Pasadena and Los Angeles to the south. 

The mission-style home was decorated with a host of surfboards for the event and young men from Five Acres served as escorts to assist guests in navigating the sloping terraced yard down to the dining area.

“We have two major events a year,” explained Jennifer Berger, chief advancement officer at Five Acres. “This is our gala. We also do a golf tournament, but this is our major gala.” 

Berger continued, “We usually do it in the spring, and typically our constituents like to go to a private home, and they like to move around to different homes every year. And so we’re so grateful.”

Berger called the Baier home and event “a perfect combination,” adding, “We’re thrilled and very grateful for their support.” 

This year’s event chairs were  Erica Adler and Tammy Rogers. Adler  is an executive with Paramount Studios, and Rogers is a registered nurse at Huntington Hospital. 

“Both have been involved in Five Acres for quite some time,” said Berger, and this is really out of the extension of their wanting to support us. They’ve done an amazing job with their committee.” 

Founded in 1886 as an orphanage, Five Acres has since expanded to more services including  foster care, adoptions, and community-based services. 

In fact, Five Acres has now become the preeminent supporter for those who are hard of hearing or deaf, and the only provider in LA County, said Berger. They currently serve six counties in Southern California ranging Los Angeles to San Bernardino, Ventura, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego. 

Guests dined on gourmet beef and chicken while listening to a “California” soundtrack (Think Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas), and were ably led in a rousing live auction by professional auctioneer Gary Cannon.

Supporters bid eagerly on items ranging from a Cabo San Lucas beachfront vacation to a private plane flight, to a walk-on role in a film directed by Jason Biggs, and a private behind-the-scenes tour of Paramount Studios. 

Berger said she felt hopeful about the evening’s $400,00-plus fundraising goal, adding, “We would hope that we exceed that. And then again, it is one of our largest fundraisers of the year and we have been surprised many times by the most generous individuals who have exceeded our expectations.” 

More information about the Five Acres organization is available here.

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