The 2015 Families Matter Benefit & Celebration was held on Thursday, May 7, at the Four Seasons Hotel. The event was attended by more than 200 guests who had a phenomenal evening in support of Friends of the Family’s work to lift children and their families out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to supportive resourced communities.
The show was hosted by Justin Willman, an exciting comedian/magician regularly seen on The Tonight Show, Conan, and Ellen, and the star of the recent Comedy Central special, Sleight of Mouth. The audience responded enthusiastically to Justin’s warm humor and truly amazing magic tricks. Musical entertainment was provided by Masanga Marimba, an ensemble that plays traditional and popular music from Africa and Latin America. They were joined onstage by members of the FOF Kids Club Chorus to perform a rousing rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
The Family of the Year Award was presented to Natalie Solario and Eduardo Cortez in recognition of their outstanding progress in Friends of the Family programs. With FOF support, the young couple has overcome daunting obstacles to create a stable nurturing home for their three children. Their award was presented by William and Alejandra Mejia, alumni of FOF who themselves received this award in 2006. They have achieved much in their careers and with parenting their four beautiful daughters, and they credit FOF for giving them the tools and support they needed to succeed. The audience responded warmly to seeing the Mejia’s “pass the baton” of recognition to another deserving young family. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Founders Award to Jane Francis, EVP Fox 21 Television Studios, in honor of her long-standing commitment to and support of Friends of the Family and the agency’s important work.
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. We especially want to thank our Event Co-Chairs, Noemi Gonzalez and Angelique Mendez, and our Auction Co-Chairs, Sue Johenning and Julie Berger, for the stellar job they did in these important leadership roles.
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!