During a recent fall evening at Sherwood Country Club, some 350 philanthropic community members, businesses and county leaders enjoyed “The Greatest Show,” performed by Rage Entertainment to net more than $425,000 at Interface Children & Family Services’ 5th annual “Hope & Light” Community Benefit, presented by SAGE Publishing. Event proceeds will fund programs and services to help heal and protect at-risk community members from the trauma of abuse, human trafficking and homelessness.
Rage Entertainment’s youth dancers sent a powerful message, performing a medley of songs from “The Greatest Showman,” with the lead dancer, Colton Burton, and Rage Founder, Veda Burton, making an emotional appeal based on Veda’s experience of rescuing Colton at age 3 from an abusive home. Their story reinforced the evening’s theme, “With Hope Comes Light” highlighting Interface’s history of success with replacing despair with “hope and light” for children and families confronted by serious issues that threaten to overwhelm them.
The event was hosted for a fourth year by Andrew Firestone, Santa Barbara philanthropist known for his prior role on “The Bachelor,” who was joined by event co-chairs Jane Lorin and Elizabeth Yi, and Interface’s Executive Director, Erik Sternad, to lead a heartwarming program addressing the “most serious human challenges of our time,” according to Sternad.
Sternad emphasized that “Interface is not alone in this fight—with us tonight are community leaders—pillars of our community—who partner with Interface every day to save and change lives—who protect our way of living and enrich our lives.”
Community leaders were hosted by Dr. Michael R. Schwartz and wife, Geri, and asked to stand and be recognized. They included Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub; Ventura County CEO Mike Powers; Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten; and Vanessa Bechtel, President and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation. Incoming Undersheriff Monica McGrath was also mentioned for her new role and long-time support of Interface, specifically in the area of domestic violence intervention and prevention.
The event chairs recalled for guests the evolution of the event, honoring Andrew Firestone for his commitment as well as an exceptionally generous group of volunteers and returning corporate sponsors. Elizabeth Yi further commented how “most important to her is that this event makes it possible for women to no longer be afraid or ashamed to speak up and get the help they need from Interface when they find themselves in an abusive relationship.” Jane Lorin emphasized how Interface “is a good investment with a history of success in making sure runaway youth do not end up on the streets homeless or sleeping out of cars.”
The event committee comprises Interface advisory board members who reside in the Agoura, Westlake and Calabasas areas. They include Gina Adler, Rebecca Bogan, Erica Friedman, Dina Furash, Lynn Garruto, Paige Glickman, Nadia Goldstein, Elizabeth Gould, Sonja Hedlund, Nicole Lasher, Jen Principe, Julie Power, Lisa Queen, Geri Schwartz, Letal Skelton, Alice Wang and Lisa Warren.
Also in attendance was second-year Presenting Sponsor Blaise Simqu, President and CEO of SAGE Publications, and his wife, Erin, joining a stellar list of companies who contribute substantially to the event every year, including Jim Furash of Amerihome and his wife, Interface Board President Dina Furash; Richard Bright of JLL and his wife, Betty; Dr. Adrian Yi and his wife, event co-chair Elizabeth Yi; Ron and Judi Polito, and RJ O’Brien. New this year was Ellie Mae.
The sold-out event featured a lively cocktail reception and entertainment provided by Teahouse Music, followed by a gourmet dinner catered by Chef David of David’s Events and fine red wine provided by annual favorite, AJA Vineyards. White wine was donated by Duke of Bourbon. The evening ended with an after-party sponsored by Mint Mobile and scrumptious desserts sponsored by Rabobank. Additional Specialty Sponsors included Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Capsilon, Clay Lacy Aviation, Digital Risk, Jordan Cohen Luxury Real Estate, MCT, J.P. Morgan, Optimal Blue, Karen and Tom Pecht, POMS & Associates and PwC.
About Interface Children & Family Services
Interface Children & Family Services is Ventura County’s most comprehensive non-profit social service agency offering 24 distinct programs with 10 evidence-based practices. Founded in 1973, Interface works to prevent and heal the effects of child abuse, neglect and abandonment; domestic violence; human trafficking; family conflict and mental health issues; and administers justice involved intervention and prevention services. Interface has pioneered several programs, including ranking among the first to open a domestic violence shelter in California and launching the state’s first 2-1-1 call center.
Currently, the agency serves approximately 42,000 local individuals annually and connects 250,000 people to a vast network of health and human services in 19 counties through operation of the 2-1-1 information and referral system helpline. This important work is sustained through donations and grants from individuals and organizations, as well as by the work of dedicated volunteers and staff.