Charity Spotlight: 44 Women for Orangewood Hosts Virtual Luncheon

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Kimberly Kirksey, luncheon Co-Chair

In 1999, Newport Beach resident Susan Samueli founded an organization called 44 Women for Orangewood, a unique group of women who are passionate about helping Orange County’s foster and community youth.

Samueli named the group after rounding up 44 of her closest philanthropic-minded friends to help support Orangewood Foundation, a nonprofit provider of services to current and former foster youth in Orange County. The Foundation helps nearly 2,000 foster and community youth annually prepare for independent adulthood.

Now, more than 20 years later, 44 Women for Orangewood had doubled in size, and has increased its donations to Orangewood Foundation through its annual fundraising events.

Mary Vande Bossche, luncheon Co-Chair

One of those key events, the 44 Women for Orangewood’s 16th annual scholarship luncheon, was held last Friday, June 5. Originally planned for the Fashion Island Hotel, the event instead was held virtually via Zoom. This innovative luncheon included a gourmet lunch and fresh flowers delivered to each of the luncheon’s 320 registered guests. Cuisine options included Chimichurri Chicken Breast with herb roasted red potatoes and steamed broccoli, or a Citrus Salad with citrus vinaigrette.

The 16th Annual Scholarship Luncheon, held from 12 to 1 p.m., was led by co-chairs Kimberly Kirksey and Mary Vande Bossche, with special guest speaker, Celebrity Chef Devin Alexander, a New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, and an award-winning entrepreneur best known as the Chef on NBC’s Biggest Loser.

Chef Devin Alexander, 2020 Event Keynote

During the event, Chef Alexander shared her own personal connection to the cause and talked about healthy meal preparations.

Attendees had the opportunity to bid during a live fund-a-need, and a series of opportunity drawings offered chances to win various gifts and packages.

Thanks to Zoom features, guests participated in special “breakout rooms” to chat with their neighbors (other guests) who were seated at their “table.”

The luncheon raised a total of $230,000, which will provide scholarships and grants to help foster and community youth students cover school expenses such as books, laptops, and even after-school and extracurricular activities.

Earlier this year, the 44 Women auxiliary raised another $54,000 for youth from their COVID-19 emergency fund appeal, reaching a total of $284,000 so far this year for Orangewood Foundation.

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