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Photography by Ann Chatillon

It was a festive evening as guests arrived at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa dressed in attire inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera,” for the Laura’s House annual gala, “Music of the Night.” From the reception area to the silent auction to the grand ballroom, it was a sea of ornate feathered masks as 275 friends and supporters gathered to raise $150,000 to help fund the vital programs and services that the organization provides to to individuals and families impacted by domestic violence.

“We are immensely grateful to everyone who attended our annual gala this year, and helped to make it such a huge success by opening their hearts and wallets to provide us with the financial support that we need to sustain the programs and services that we provide to individuals and families that are impacted by domestic violence here in Orange County, and beyond,” said Margaret Bayston, CEO and Executive Director, Laura’s House. “Special events like our annual gala are also instrumental building greater awareness that helps us to fulfill our mission, changing the social beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate domestic violence.”

“Music of the Night” began with a reception for Major Donors to the recently completed Cornerstone Capital Campaign, a $4.5 million fundraising initiative that enabled Laura’s House to rebuild its emergency shelter, and purchase a separate faciility for its Step Ahead Transitional Housing Program for shelter graduates. Laura’s House board members and supporters gathered to recognized Orange County philanthropist Anne MacPherson, along with Campaign chair Wayne Pinnell and his wife Karen; and, Laura Khouri, Chair of the Laura’s House Board of Directors, for their steadfast support in helping to achieve the Campaign’s fundraising goals. Each of the honorees received a hand selected crystal cut bowl or vase from Tiffany & Co.

During the cocktail reception guests perused a silent auction featuring more than 200 items including exciting travel and entertainment experiences, culinary adventures, and a “Wall of Wine” offering a seemingly endless selection of top-rated wines and tasting experiences from around the world. Volunteers from the National Charity League circulated during the silent auction, selling tickets for the opportunity drawing for a 2-night stay at the Montage Laguna Beach.

Following the silent auction, guests were invited in the Grand Pacific Ballroom for the dinner and program, featuring Vikki Vargas, Orange County Bureau Chief for NBC4 as Master of Ceremonies. Vargas introduced Margaret Bayston and Laura Khouri, Chair of the Laura’s House Board of Directors and Gala Chair for “Music of the Night.” Shelley Hoss, president of the Orange County Community Foundation joined them on the stage to present Khouri with the “Power Packed Philanthropy Award,” recognizing her for her generous contributions to Laura’s House and leadership as a member and chair of the board of directors for the past four years, and advocacy for the organization within the Orange County business and philanthropic communities, which has generated more than $2 million in donations to Laura’s House.

Following dinner, Margaret Bayston joined Khouri on stage again to present this year’s Crystal Heart Awards. Honorees this year were Orange County philanthropist Anne MacPherson, representing The Joe MacPherson Foundation and Edwards Lifesciences for their corporate philanthropy. MacPherson was again recognized by Laura’s House for her generous contributions to the Cornerstone Capital Campaign and commitment to the Laura’s House mission. Amanda Fowler, Executive Director of Global Corporate Giving, accepted the award on behalf of Edwards Lifesciences, which was honored for its spirit of philanthropy, commitment to the Laura’s House mission and dedication to assisting victims of domestic violence through their corporate giving initiatives and volunteer program.

Laura’s House then welcomed three shelter graduates to the stage, to share their testimony of how Laura’s House helped them, before debuting its new video, “Kim’s Story,” which featured a woman who was able to rebuild a life that was free of domestic violence with the help she received while living in the Laura’s House Emergency Shelter. As the video was presented, guests enjoyed “Sam & Harry’s” trio for dessert including miniature crème brulee, bite sized chocolate opera cake and a berry glazed tartlet. Dessert was followed by coffee service. Following dessert, auctioneer Mike Shumard took the stage for the  “Rebuild a Life” auction to solicit sponsorships for the Laura’s House Emergency Shelter, Transitional Living Center, Counseling and Resource Center, Legal Advocacy program, and Healthy Emotions and Attitudes for Teens in Relationships (H.E.A.R.T.) community outreach program, and basic needs

After dinner, guests were invited to enjoy dancing and lively, musical entertainment from the Sensation Showband.

Gala Chair for “Music of the Night” was Laura Khouri, who also currently serves as the Chair for the Laura’s House Board of Directors. Event committee members include Laura Bartz, Andrea Stephens and Denise Strini from Western National Group; Laura’s House board members Jennifer Hannigan Boyer, Linda Grace Kearns, Sandy Jacobson, Casey Wolin, Kurt Ross and his wife Lorrie; and, Cornerstone Capital Campaign Chair, Wayne Pinnell and his wife Karen.

Over the past eighteen years, Laura’s House has provided residential shelter and support services to nearly 3,500 families, and counseling, life skills education and legal assistance to over 40,000 individuals. The mission of Laura’s House is to change the social beliefs, attitudes and the behaviors that perpetuate domestic violence while creating a safe space in which to empower individuals and families affected by abuse.