Photos Courtesy of Peak PR
Saturday night at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica was quite magical for those in attendance of this phenomenal event. The 20s themed gala, “A Gatsby Affair,” was organized to raise money for Face Forward, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing pro bono reconstructive surgery for women and children who have been victimized by domestic or gang violence.
Founders Deborah and Dr. David Alessi were beaming with pride for their project and all who showed up in support. When asked how she got involved with Face Forward, board member K Williams tells me: “Well I’m a publicist, and some information came through about the organization. I thought, what an amazing organization, and Dr. Alessi, how he’s doing these surgeries pro bono you know, some of the recipients need multiple surgeries, so for him to be donating his time and efforts to this cause, I think it’s amazing. I wanted to be a part of it. So I asked, and here I am! I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, so I started out helping them from a distance, and now I’m here helping them and I’m going to continue to spread the word.”
I asked executive director Sarah Z what she would suggest to those wanting to get involved, but who might not be in the best financial standing to do so: “Tell your friends! Use social media. Financially, $5 helps—anything helps. We need help with our volunteers, when [these women] come to LA from out of town, out of state, out of country, we need help showing them around. Just to know they have someone to count on. Get the L.A. experience while they’re out here.”
And what an L.A .experience the evening was! After the red carpet introductions, attendees milled about the silent auction, nibbling hors d’oeuvres and sipping sparkling wine. Acclaimed artist Robert Vargas exhibited a live charcoal-drawing and the house band never missed a beat. A little after sunset, we moved into the hotel’s gorgeous ballroom for dinner. Plush tablecloths, bouquets of flowers, and dim lighting set the mood for singer, actress, and X-Factor finalist Stacy Francis to perform before the evening turned to live auction. A generous amount was raised for Face Forward and some were moved to tears. We saw a clip of the documentary and one of the beneficiaries, Audrey, spoke of her gratitude for the organization and Dr. Alessi’s generosity. Dessert was served, and Macy Gray promptly got everyone on the dance floor. Dr. Phil McGraw was honored with the Voice Award and young CEO Jake Kloberdanz accepted the Community Philanthropic Award for his work with ONEHOPE Wine. His company donates half of their profit to an array of partner non-profits.
The evening was a huge success with a positive energy that was evident everywhere you turned. Face Forward gives power back to victims. Let’s keep talking about it and keep raising awareness. To learn more about Face Forward or to donate/volunteer visit Faceforwardla.org.
Honorable mentions in attendance: Judi Shekani: “When it happens—domestic violence—it’s not just that it happens, and then it stops. There’s damage that’s done to the person not just physically, but mentally, for a long period of time, and I think by doing what they can to address it on the exterior helps to fix it and heal them on the interior.” Jennifer Coolidge, Bonnie Somerville, Eric Roberts, Willa Ford, Sara Rue, Emma Willis, Paul Antonelli, Missi Pyle, and Karen Doc Halligan were also in attendance.