Nearly 200 supporters of Laura’s House, a Southern California nonprofit providing domestic violence-related services, united virtually via Zoom on Saturday, Sept. 19 for the organization’s 26th annual gala (originally planned to be held at the Fashion Island Hotel in Newport Beach), hosted by notable emcee and fundraiser auctioneer, Mike Shumard.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uptick in domestic violence cases in Orange County and beyond, the theme of this year’s fundraiser was “A Year Like No Other.” The gala raised nearly $450,000 for services benefiting domestic violence victims, spanning residential shelter services, counseling and legal services as well as prevention and community outreach programs.
Funds raised will also support the nonprofit’s “The Power of the Journey” capital campaign, which was announced at the 2019 gala, and has reached the fundraising halfway mark.
The campaign is raising much-needed funds to bring to life a new Laura’s House center in Aliso Viejo, and Orange County’s first, multi-service collaborative focused on domestic violence-related services.
“Domestic violence continues to be pervasive in our communities and the pandemic has made it even more difficult for our clients to obtain a happy and safe future free of violence,” said Margaret Bayston, CEO/Executive Director, Laura’s House. “Through our 24-hour hotline alone, Laura’s House has witnessed a 65 percent increase in calls compared to this time last year, as those affected by violence are being forced to socially isolate and stay in potentially life-threatening situations. Despite the challenges we all faced this year, I am proud of our staff who have stepped up to meet this moment with innovation, creativity and grit and incredibly grateful for our network of volunteers, donors and supporters who continue to rally behind our mission to end domestic violence.”
Speaking to the rise of domestic violence during the COVID-19 lockdown, Laura’s House front-line team members shed light on the need for domestic violence resources and support, now more than ever. They shared the myriad situations their clients are facing due to stay-at-home orders – from the trauma they have experienced in-home having longer lasting effects on their healing journey while at the Laura’s House emergency shelter, to the calls they’re receiving from those who once were working in the office and are now attempting to leave their abusive partners at home but are unable.
They recounted many callers risking their own lives and their families to get the help they need, and talked about the empowerment and support services they are able to provide to survivors, as they courageously flee their current situations and rebuild their lives.
Following the testimonials, Laura’s House rallied Zoom attendees to support their “Rebuild a Life” initiative by virtually raising their paddles to help fund the nonprofit’s vital services. “Rebuild A Life” included a generous $100,000 matching grant from presenting sponsors Nancy and Geoffrey Stack and a $50,000 donation from Laura Khouri and Michael K. Hayde, also presenting sponsors. Laura’s House Board Member, Anne MacPherson also donated $25,000 during the “Rebuild a Life” initiative, in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her legacy.
“We’re so grateful for our friends, donors and supporters who joined us virtually to celebrate all that Laura’s House has achieved over the past 26 years,” said Laura Khouri, gala chair, and Laura’s House board chair. “In this year like no other, the funds raised will enable Laura’s House to continue to fulfill its promise of inspiring hope and empowering change to end domestic violence and support those who are impacted by the additional pressures of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Other event highlights included: a virtual cocktail reception, entertainment by Laura’s House teen supporter Hana Eyre who performed a cover of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” magical entertainment by celebrity magician, Johnny Wu and remarks from Khouri and Bayston.
This year’s auction was filled with luxury items, experiences, and a selection of fine wine. Popular bids included a Peloton Bike Package complete with accessories, two pairs of shoes and setup and installation; a one-week stay at the luxurious Park Plaza Hotel in Beaver Creek, Colorado; a Honda Center suite including 14 seats to watch an Anaheim Ducks 2021 season game; a one-week stay in a brand-new 5th floor condominium at the Mahana at Kaanapali in Maui, a five-night stay in a luxury Lake Arrowhead condominium; diamond pave and pearl earrings from Sloane Street jewelry, and other glamorous items.
Presenting sponsors for the 2020 gala included Nancy and Geoffrey Stack and Laura Khouri and Michael K. Hayde. Dream Sponsors included Lisa Argyros and the Argyros Family Foundation; Farmers and Merchants Bank; Laura and Mark Feld, The Jacqueline M. Glass Family; The Joe MacPherson Foundation and Nancy Tullos and Tony Robertson. Wish Sponsors included David and Cheryl Ball; Haskell & White LLP; Gochnauer Family Foundation and Park Newport Apartments. Hope Sponsors included Aviso Legal Group LLP; The Frome Family Foundation; Marsh McLennan Agency; Jim Murray Roofing; Rutan & Tucker LLP and Casey & Tim Wolin.
Among the Newport Beach sponsors and supporters at the virtual gala: Laura Khouri (Gala Chair) and Michael Hayde, Frome Foundation, David & Cheryl Ball, Dick & Beth Gochnauer, and Nancy and Geoff Stack.
For more information on Laura’s House, visit https://www.laurashouse.org.