LOS ANGELES, February 26, 2019 -- Hillsides, a Southern California mental health and foster care charity, raised more than $500,000 during its Annual Gala, Heart of Brazil, held on February 23, 2019 at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena.
“The gala is our largest fundraiser of the year, and this is the most money we have raised since celebrating our Centennial in 2013. We are overwhelmed by the incredible support of our community,” said Hillsides President and CEO Joseph M. Costa.
Some 400 guests enjoyed the Brazilian-themed event that benefits the almost 17,000 children, youth, and families Hillsides serves. Heart of Brazil was chaired by three long-time supporters of Hillsides, Edison Barbosa, Bill Eichler, and Pamela Mahon. Barbosa is Brazilian, which inspired the theme.
Highlights of the evening included a live auction emceed by NBC4 weathercaster Fritz Coleman, a testimonial by actress Jean Smart, who spoke about volunteering with the children in Hillsides’ residential treatment program, and a chorus line of colorfully dressed Samba dancers. Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger was in attendance, and she presented the gala co-chairs with commendations for their efforts.
From the moment the guests entered The Langham, they were swept into an immersive Brazilian experience, enjoying a specialty Brazilian cocktail, Caipirinha, and Brazilian-inspired hors d’oeuvres and main course. Hillsides board chair Jesse Cripps welcomed guests to the event, and the Right Reverend John H. Taylor gave the blessing.
During the live auction portion of the evening, guests bid on many exciting packages, including a week stay in New York City, the chance to attend Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour in Las Vegas, and a Mediterranean cruise by Crystal Cruises. Later in the evening, John Mahon, husband to gala co-chair Pamela Mahon and a percussionist and vocalist with the Elton John Band, treated the guests to an impromptu musical performance, singing “Knock on Wood” and “Rocket Man.”
The guest speaker for the evening was Oscar Ventura-Castillo, who, along with his wife Monica, adopted a child, Mia, through Hillsides affiliate, Bienvenidos. “My family is now complete, and I want to thank Bienvenidos for all the help you gave my family,” said Ventura-Castillo, who also has an eight-year-old son, Camilo.
The gala was made possible by many generous sponsors, including the lead sponsor The Donald Zonshine Family Foundation. The other major sponsors are Willis Towers Watson, Pin USA – Mario and Shelly Fiumani, Sherm and Marge Telleen, The Walt Disney Company, Don and Sally Clark, Jacob Maarse Florists, Kaiser Permanente, Paul Rusnak- Rusnak Auto Group, Rob and Kim Shepherd, and Western Asset Management.
The gala committee consisted of Armida Baylon-Stelzer, Katie Bolton, Holly Breckheimer, Kelly Chamberlain, Donna De Mond, Shelly and Mario Fiumani, Donna B. Ford, John S. Gong, Gina Guerra, Ava Herrera, Stacey Hoppe, Ana Maarse, Susan Noce, Susan Pinsky, Courtney Saavedra, Sara J. Simpson, Maureen Staley, Chelisa Vagim, Uyen-Uyen Vo, and Kim Weleba.
Hillsides, with its affiliate Bienvenidos, is dedicated to healing children and young adults, strengthening families, and transforming communities through quality comprehensive services and advocacy. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the agency serves nearly 17,000 children and families in Southern California throughout more than 40 sites, including school-based mental health offices in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Baldwin Park. Foster care and adoptions services are offered in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. To learn more about Hillsides, please visit www.Hillsides.org. Visit Hillsides on Facebook @hillsideschildren, on Twitter @Hillsides, or on Instagram @HillsidesPasadena.