Local Leaders Champion Charity Events 3

The often-used saying “it takes a village to raise a child” may as well be used for community events, because “it also takes a village to put an event together.” A village of leaders and volunteers, that is.

Fortunately, the idyllic and thriving Conejo Valley has no shortage of these individuals. Generous and committed, they’re at the forefront of some crowd-drawing charity events this fall.

Senior Concerns’ Ultimate Dining

For 30 years now, The Ultimate Dining Experience has raised everyone’s wining and dining expectations, with close to 15 participating local wineries and restaurants. Mastro’s Steakhouse, Aroha New Zealand Cuisine, Sunland Vintage Winery, Opolo Vineyards and Ventura Limoncello Company were just some of the vendors at the recently-held event back in September.

This year’s theme was “Motown” and the garden and ballroom of the Hyatt Westlake were transformed complete with costumes, records, fedoras and music notes reminiscent of this golden era in music.

The Blue Breeze Band, a Motown tribute band and special guest Gary Bryan, legendary disc jockey of KRTH-FM, took guests down memory lane with the soulful music of the Temptations, the Commodores, Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind & Fire, among other 60s music greats.

Presented by Thousand Oaks-based non-profit group Senior Concerns, the annual fundraiser was sold-out, drawing about 420 guests. Proceeds from the event directly go towards Senior Concerns’ various programs, including its adult day care program and Meals On Wheels, a year-round, volunteer-led hot meal delivery program for homebound seniors in the Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks areas.

Andrea Gallagher, president of Senior Concerns, discussed Ultimate Dining’s staying power in the community. “I think the community overwhelmingly supports it year after year because it benefits a universal cause — aging. It’s an issue that affects every single person in the population, whether it’s themselves, a family member or a friend,” she said.

According to Gallagher, the audience was moved by a caregiver’s speech at the event. There was no dry eye when the caregiver spoke about caring for an ex-spouse and taking the burden off of their children. “It’s the ultimate sacrifice and it’s becoming commonplace these days with the boom we’re experiencing in the 65 and older age group,” said Gallagher.

Thousand Oaks Police Charitable Foundation Annual Golf Tournament

For Barbara Murray, the idea of “helping those who help the community” was what drew her to the Thousand Oaks Police Charitable Foundation (TOPCF). After being invited by a friend four years ago, Murray stayed on and eventually started chairing its annual golf tournament as a volunteer.

“The foundation is not a ‘long shot’ for me since I’m in the security business and my business partner is a retired police officer,” says Murray, co-owner and chief financial officer of Cornwall Security, based in Thousand Oaks.

Now in its 19th year, the annual golf tournament presented by Pleasant Holidays will take place on Monday, October 19, at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village. “We are always at capacity with 200+ golfers and about 300 dinner guests,” says Murray, a 16-year Conejo Valley resident.

Approximately 100 volunteers help make this event happen, according to Murray. Event proceeds help various programs of the foundation, including the Volunteers in Policing, the Police Explorers, Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES), the Citizen Academy and the Reserve Deputies program.

Also a long-time school volunteer with her kids graduating from Westlake High School, Murray said that volunteering at this level is as rewarding for many reasons. “The crime rate in our community is so low that the police are able to be involved in many outreach programs in the community. Programs like the VIPs help the police department reduce cost and contribute a huge number of volunteer hours,” she says. “Those reasons are more than enough to keep me involved.”

Boys & Girls Club Stand Up for Kids Gala Dinner and Auction

Becky Fleishman knows firsthand how it is growing up in a safe and tight-knit community. A product of a local Boys & Girls Club, she remembers the many great experiences she had there after-school and during school breaks.

Throughout her high school years, she volunteered first at her local club before joining the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Conejo Valley as a full-time staff member, and then eventually being promoted to director of development. “You could say I grew up here and I know the ins and outs of the clubs,” says Fleishman. “Without sounding like a cliche, it’s been proven that great leaders really start here at our clubs.”

Now numbering seven clubs, the Boys & Girls Clubs put on a number of fundraising events every year to meet the growing demands of the roughly 3,800 kids who pass through its club doors. Coming up soon is the Stand Up for Kids Gala Dinner and Auction on Saturday, October 24 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village.

In its 13th year, the gala honors community members who have contributed both their time and resources to the clubs. This year, the honorees are board members Lon Morton and his wife, who have served on various committees over the years. Longtime board member and committee volunteer Gary Stephani will be recognized as well when he receives the Cal Johnston Service Award.

According to Fleishman, about 600 guests are expected to grace this major fundraiser. Behind the scenes, about 60 volunteers work tirelessly and keep long hours to make things happen — from placing phone calls to placing decor at the event venue.

Said Fleishman, “We do it for the kids. We do it to support the leaders of tomorrow.”