Thank you to all who attended and supported our 2012 Families Matter Benefit and Celebration held on Thursday, November 29th. More than $180,000 was raised to support Friends of the Family’s highly acclaimed family strengthening and support programs. The Beverly Hilton Hotel provided a gorgeous setting, all decked out for the holidays, as the more than 200 guests promenaded down a twinkle lit and tinsel bedecked walkway to enter the cocktail reception and bountiful silent auction.
One of the highlights of the evening’s program was a true testament to the importance of the work that FOF does. The Family of the Year Award was presented to Wendy Santos in recognition of her outstanding achievements as a teen mother. Through the help of FOF’s Young Moms program, Wendy underwent a life-changing transformation despite extraordinary challenges, including becoming pregnant at a very young age. From a place of vulnerability and pain, her self-worth was restored by an ever-enduring spirit and the help of FOF, and she managed to create a loving, nurturing home for her daughter while graduating from high school early and with honors. Wendy has gone on to attend college in pursuit of a career in criminal justice. Wendy’s story was an inspiration to all who heard it. Wendy found a family at FOF, and through the agency’s network of innovative specialized support and access to resources through the Young Moms program, as well as her own strength and perseverance, Wendy and her daughter are now thriving.
A truly delightful moment in the evening was the surprise presentation of the Lumina Award to FOF Executive Director, Susan Kaplan, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to family support and social justice in Southern California. Susan has been with Friends of the Family through most of its 40 years and has provided extraordinary leadership, touching thousands of lives, and making an impressive contribution to her field. Susan’s gratitude and inexhaustible passion were evident as she accepted with an eloquent, impromptu speech.
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by the 2012 Friends of the Family Glee Club composed of eleven talented girls from FOF’s afterschool programs, and the inaugural Guardian Award honoring outstanding community leadership was presented to Veronica Arreguin, Principal of the Maclay Academy of Social Justice in Pacoima.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to our Event Committee and everyone who contributed to the event’s success – sponsors, guests, volunteers, entertainers, speakers, and auction donors. All of the proceeds from this event provide crucial support for the work of Friends of the Family. On behalf of all the children and families who benefit from FOF services, we thank you!