Sister Marie Therese of the Sisters of the Company of Mary and founder of the Lestonnac Free Clinic in Orange wore a cymbidium orchid corsage to the party. It was pinned on her dark blue habit. She said her prayers were answered again.
She had wanted a headline performer for the clinic's second annual fund-raising dinner-dance held Thursday night at the Anaheim Hilton.
"I prayed and prayed and prayed," said the recipient of the 1985 Alex de Tocqueville Society's Humanitarian Award. "I wanted the event to be a success. When I learned that Carol Lawrence was coming, it made me so happy."
According to Jerry Derloshon, president of the clinic's board of directors, the event attracted 425 supporters and raised $22,000.
Honorary chairmen of the evening included such longtime Lestonnac supporters as Supervisor Ralph B. Clark, J. Robert Fluor II, Archbishop Thomas Clavel and Carl Karcher, head of Karl's Jr. Restaurants.
Derloshon, who served as emcee for the evening, announced from the stage that Margaret and Carl Karcher had become grandparents for the 40th time.
"There are approximately 40 tables in this room," said Derloshon, and "I have a (mental) picture of a Karcher at every table."
In fact, Karcher's son, Father Jerome Karcher of St. Norbert Church in Orange, also secretary of the board of directors, gave the invocation before dinner.
Before Lawrence entertained, Derloshon called 19 children from the St. Jeanne de Lestonnac Catholic School in Tustin to the stage. Each held a letter of the alphabet, elaborately designed in calligraphy by Annie Long, Chapman College director of publications. The letters spelled out Lestonnac Free Clinic. As Derloshon read a poem written by Sister Therese expressing her feelings about the work of the clinic, the children raised the letters high whenever the clinic's name was mentioned.
The free out-patient clinic is staffed by doctors and nurses who donate their time. The clinic is open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday. Counseling for parents, including information on children's nutritional needs, preventive medicine and psychological help, is also available.
"We expanded last year," says Derloshon. "We have doubled in size, and we are opening a dental clinic in addition to our medical clinic."
He added, "The clinic, free to everyone, sees nearly 3,000 people a year.
Singer-dancer Lawrence changed the tempo of the evening when she appeared in a beige, form-fitting, glittering dance costume. Her opening number, "New Attitude," prompted Nel Flynn of Yorba Linda to remark, "I want to look like that and have what's inside--all that energy."
A quick slide show during one of many costume changes focused on milestones in Lawrence's career.
The slides included photos of her as the young Maria in "West Side Story," pictures of her coffee commercial days, shots of her with Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra.
Another skit called for seven volunteers from the audience, among them Hector Godinez, district manager of U. S. Postal Service; Charles Kovacs, Rockwell International vice president, and Dr. Thomas Baker of Santa Ana. Kovacs and Baker are both clinic board members.
In minutes they had learned a top-hat-and-cane routine that ended with Lawrence being lifted horizontally by the group and carried to the other end of the stage.
Off-stage, Lawrence said she had canceled an out-of-state engagement to perform for the Lestonnac benefit. "When I heard about the sister and the work she was doing, I wanted to do this," she said.
Roses went to Gail Cornell, event coordinator, and Rosalie Corless, the clinic's assistant director.
The 15-member board honored Sister Therese with a thank you arranged through the Chapman College communications media department. As each board member's photograph was flashed on a center-stage screen, their prerecorded voices praised the nun's persistent dedication to her goals.
Presented a desk clock with an inscription from the board, the Trinidad-born nun said: "When I started this, I only wanted to take care of the neighborhood children's cuts and bruises. The works going on are not all mine."