Sweet Success: Villa Esperanza’s Annual Gala Honors Champions and Raises Funds for Special Needs Programs

Photos By Paul Takizawa
Published on May 15, 2023

Villa Esperanza Services held their annual Blue & White fundraising gala on Saturday, May 13. More than 160 guests joined together at the Langham Huntington Hotel to enjoy cocktail hour with a silent auction and photo booth, as well as dinner with a program and live auction. The theme for this year’s event was “Villa Land,” inspired by the Candyland board game. Villa is known for its customized services, amazing staff, and continuum of care over the course of a lifetime, making it a special home for individuals with special needs.

As part of the evening’s festivities, Villa honored Yun and Rich Byrd for their incredible commitment to Villa over the past two decades. Yun volunteered in Villa’s Speech Center weekly for thirteen years, receiving the Robert Loebecke Volunteer of the Year award in 2014. Rich currently serves on Villa’s Board of Directors and Capital Campaign Cabinet, and he was instrumental in helping secure the $1 million lead gift from Wells Fargo for the first phase of Villa’s capital campaign. “Yun and Rich have both been dedicated champions and ambassadors of Villa for many years,” shared Villa Esperanza Services CEO, Kelly White. “We are pleased to honor them for all they have done for our children, adults, and seniors with intellectual/developmental disabilities.”

The evening began with cocktails and nibbles on the terrace overlooking the beautiful grounds of the Huntington Langham Hotel. With the setting sun as a backdrop, guests sipped on their favorite cocktails and enjoyed small bites ranging from crab cakes to short ribs. There was also a lively silent auction with choices for every interest. Dinner was served in The Viennese Ballroom where participants dined on their choice of beef, fish or vegetarian entrees. A live auction and awards ceremony were part of the program.

Villa Esperanza Services, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children, adults, and seniors with intellectual/developmental disabilities achieve their goals and live fulfilling lives, was established in 1961. Villa offers nine programs, including the Villa Esperanza School for children up to 22 years of age; a Speech and Language Center and Occupational Therapy Clinic providing children, adults, and seniors with comprehensive therapies; employment services; day programs for adults; independent living services; and adult residences in Pasadena. To learn more about Villa’s collaborative approach, visitors may visit www.VillaES.org.

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