The Help Group's Teddy Bear Picnic lived up to its cuddly moniker on June 12 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel with lots of warm, feel-good moments. More than 450 people attended the 30th annual spring luncheon benefiting children with special needs, which began with a touching performance of "Sing a Song" by The Help Group's Children's Choir.
Amy Brenneman, of "Judging Amy" and "N.Y.P.D. Blue" fame, and her writer-director husband Brad Silberling ("Lemony Snicket") were honored with the Help Humanitarian Award for their inspiring involvement in causes such as Healthy Child, Healthy World, Women in Film, the Sundance Institute and Los Angeles Children's Hospital. Both Silberling and Brenneman spoke of the importance of community.
"As we think about today, what for me stands out is the idea of the strength in community," Silberling said. Brenneman acknowledged The Help Group's mission as "a celebration of the great, beautiful, rainbow range of humanity that these children bless us with."
Maria Bello ("Thank You For Smoking,") shared her warm thoughts about the honored couple and praised their humanitarian spirit. Also honored were Pamela Clark and Nancy Rosenfelt, for their professional efforts helping children in need.
The event was chaired by Bruce Berman, Elizabeth and Lee Gabler, Ann and Jim Gianopulos and Brian Grazer, whose combined efforts raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support children with special needs. Topping off the cheerful afternoon was the traditional teddy bear auction, led by Christie's President Andrea Fiuczynski.
-- Dikla Kadosh contributed to this report
The Anti Defamation League (ADL) hosted the 13th annual Deborah Awards on June 5 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The evening celebrated the achievements of three professional women committed to philanthropy. The ADL also commended the women for sharing the ideals of the organization by promoting their mission to combat anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism.
Dr. Lula Balton, founder of the West Los Angeles Community Development Corporation, was honored for her commitment to social and economic justice. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recognized Balton's agency for its affordable housing project West A Homes.
Native San Fernando Valley resident Wendy Greuel, who currently serves as the president pro tempore of the Los Angeles City Council, was lauded for her public service in developing emergency earthquake response and recovery programs that benefit the less fortunate. As president and CEO of the California Community Foundation, Antonia Hernandez is responsible for one of the largest philanthropic organizations in Southern California, with assets totaling over $1 billion. Recognized for her commitment to improving the conditions of underserved communities, Hernandez supports health and human services, education and community arts and culture through her work with the foundation.
During dinner, two speakers -- a high school student and a Catholic school teacher -- delivered moving remarks about their experiences with ADL programs.
Diana Linton, who recently graduated from Woodland Hills' Louisville High School, spoke about her education in ADL's diversity and leadership program.
Katherine Guerrero was selected to participate in ADL's Holocaust education program, "Bearing Witness: Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and Contemporary Issues," which provides Catholic school teachers with training and resources to teach the history of anti-Semitism, as well as the Catholic church's complex relationship with Jews and Judaism. She will receive advanced Holocaust education training in Jerusalem this summer.
Cheers to Young Leaders
The Jewish Federation kicked off a smokin' summer with the Young Leadership Division's Summer Bash on June 3 at Beverly and Herb Gelfand's sprawling estate on Sunset Boulevard. Young Leadership director Cassie Kirschbaum greeted guests in the circular driveway as 150 young professionals ascended the entryway in designer drapery for a luxurious networking event.
The crowd sipped cocktails and drank kosher wine as they mingled poolside at the Gelfand's English-style mansion, which features a large backyard ensconced in sky-high foliage. For three hours on a cool summer evening, the corporate worlds of real estate, finance, law, entertainment and media converged and exchanged business cards, while the Gelfands graciously answered questions about business, philanthropy and Jewish community involvement.