Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Orange County held their annual CASA Celebration of Children on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, at VEA Newport Beach.
This year’s gala celebration included 267 guests who were there to support CASA’s mission of serving abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Orange County with a trained and supported volunteer advocate.
The gala netted more than $1,463,000 and serves as the highest netting fundraiser in the organization’s 37 year history.
This beautiful and colorful evening was chaired by two longtime CASA supporters, Nancy Eaton (2021 Advocate of the Year Honoree) and Karen Jordan (CASA Board Member).
Guests arrived at a vibrant and beautifully transformed for a cocktail reception featuring a silent auction with 67 silent auction items including 5 “Chef Table” experiences to bid on.
Guests were welcomed into a ballroom that was gorgeously decorated by the team at Elite OC Productions. Regan Phillips, CASA CEO, offered remarks in season with back-to-school that this year’s gala spotlights the challenges that youth in foster care experience with their education and the difference that a CASA volunteer can make.
Phillips shared that “according to child welfare research specialists, youth in foster care are suspended and expelled from school three times more often than other children and at least 40 percent have learning difficulties. A child in foster care is more likely to have an increased frequency of mid-year school changes and an increased number of absences. High school graduation rates for those in foster care are at 58 percent, and for those that do graduate, only 3 percent go on to earn a bachelor’s degree.”
But the good news, noted Phillips, is that studies show that it only takes one stable and consistent adult in the life of a young person in the foster care system to help improve their grades in school, increase their connections to siblings and extended family, and ensure access to services that will impact their future success. CASA’s mission supports a tried-and-true model that for decades has made a difference in the lives of countless children.
“Our tracking tells us that youth in the Orange County foster care system who are matched with a CASA volunteer experience a graduation rate of 92 percent,” stated Phillips.
Awards were given out to BLT Enterprises as this year’s Outstanding Corporation, Capital Group Foundation as this year’s Outstanding Foundation, and Linda & Burton Young as this year’s Children’s Champions. All three awards are given for exceptional commitment and support of CASA’s organization and mission.
Additional honors were given to Lourdes Nark and Wendy Tenebaum as Honorary Chairs of the gala, as well as Patty Juarez who is finishing a twelve year position on the CASA Board of Directors, including her service as Chair of the Governing Board for the last two years.
Among the highlights of the evening’s events, CASA volunteer Irene Strauss, was honored as this year’s Advocate of the Year and introduced by Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court, Judge Craig Arthur. Irene shared her experience as a volunteer for the last seven years at CASA, and the four youth that she has worked with.
Auctioneer, Zack Krone revved up the crowd for the annual Fund the Mission paddle raise which hauled in over $727,000 with donations from event guests ranging from $100,000 to $100, as well as an anonymous (and unplanned) matching donation from an event guest for $250,000.
The live auction featured six items including the “Most Expensive Car Collection” experience, which featured a private jet trip to Sonoma’s Petaluma Gap wine region, and its crown jewel, Keller Estate.
Following the live auction guests headed to the dance floor to continue the party and celebrate the evening’s success with a concert performance by Wes Quave Band.
This year’s Diamond Sponsor was Karen Jordan, Emerald Sponsor was Lucy Donahue, and Exclusive Jeweler was Lugano Diamonds. Underwriters included 1500 Sound Academy as the Entertainment Sponsor, Newport Beach-based Disc Sports & Spine Center / Dr. Robert Bray as Mobile Bidding Sponsor, South Coast Plaza as Printing Sponsor, Doug Hodge & Kylie Schuyler as Wine Sponsor, Mango House Media as Video Sponsor and Modern Luxury as Media Partner.
Please visit www.casaoc.org to learn more.