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Photography by Ann Chatillon

Organizers called the event “A Red Carpet Moment”: an evening of gourmet food and wine benefiting Serving People In Need (SPIN) which unfolded October 13th at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort Huntington Beach.  The spectacular benefit produced by the board of directors of SPIN chaired by Al DeGrassi, executive vice president of Plaza Bank, in association with Jean Wegener, executive director of the SPIN staff, attracted a sold-out crowd of nearly 300 guests in black tie raising an impressive $190,000 net which will fund SPIN programs aiding Orange County homeless and working poor citizens.

The 23rd annual dinner gala welcomed celebrity guest chef Helene An and her daughter Elizabeth An both of the AnQi and Crustacean restaurant dynasty.  The An family joined forces with Hilton Executive Chef Jeff Littlefield preparing and serving a fabulous four-course dinner.

Funds raised go to support three crucial programs that SPIN has operated in Orange County since its founding in 1987 by Sam Boyce.

Underwritten once again by the Robert Mayer Corporation, represented by R.J. Mayer and his wife the lovely Rhonda Mayer, the party began with a massive silent auction in the hotel foyer. Major benefactors participating in the festivities included Wayne and Mary Lou Shattuck, John Rallis and Mary Lynn Bergman-Rallis, Maureen Flanagan, Thomas and Kimberly Miller, Mary Frances Morgan, Paul and Virginia Schloemer, Edward Rimpau Jr.,  Christine Weiner, Joan Smart, Florence and Keith Smith and the Dr. Richard Campbell family to name only a few.

Significant support for the event also came from the Frome Family Foundation, Crawford Custom Homes, Allardice Foundation, Ekedal Concrete, First Foundation Advisors, Succession Strategies,  Capita Technologies, O’Melveny & Myers, California United Bank, First Republic Investment Management, Plaza Bank, Slater Hersey & Lieberman, Tiffany & Co., and South Coast Plaza.

In between dinner courses the most important segment of the evening included the appeal for funds benefiting SPIN’s programs.  Organizers labeled the appeal “Light Up A Life” which included testimonials shared with the crowd by two most courageous individuals whose lives have been turned around in recent months with the help of SPIN. Donors responded with open hearts and open wallets as paddles rose throughout the dining room as calls for donations were made to support funding categories that included everything from moving a family into housing, paying apartment rent from a month to a year, providing counseling with a licensed professional, medical and dental services, job re-entry counseling, food to fill a pantry, fuel for the street services van, even a $50 monthly bus pass for a client needing transportation.  The generosity of the donors was infectious, and the staff tallying the donations could barely keep up with the enthusiasm.