Banter about "fruity bouquet" was flying about nearly as much as Sunday's high winds that buffeted High Hopes' wine-tasting benefit at Bayside Center in Newport Beach.
But guests who came for "A Taste of the Wine Country" didn't seem to mind as several hundred turned out to support the group, which provides day care for brain-injured adults in Orange County.
Imbibing were a number of High Hopes board of directors members, graduates of the program and volunteers, including Diane Muth, Ruth and Harley Burge (he's High Hopes' president-elect), their daughter Kelly (a graduate of the program) and Greg and Janae Brolin.
"Most of our clients were diagnosed as hopeless," explained High Hopes director Tim Reese, who oversees the program that serves about 40 survivors of head trauma.
As Reese explained it, those participating in the High Hopes program were born normal and were subsequently hampered by physical, emotional and mental limitations as a result of a blow to the head. (Helmetless motorcycle riders involved in accidents lead the list.)
High Hopes, founded in Costa Mesa in 1975, offers an integrated educational model rehabilitation program. "That means we look at the whole person, giving them ways to build cognitive skills, social skills, physical strength and occupational therapy," Reese said.
Most of High Hopes' clients are between the ages of 18 and 25 and suffer from various degrees of social isolation. High Hopes invites members of the community to come to group social events and often asks their former employers to rehire and retrain graduates.
Since its early days High Hopes has learned the ropes of gaining state and federal grants but still relies heavily on community involvement to support its innovative programs. Reese explained that clients pay only 30% of the cost of the program.
"That makes days like today especially important. People need to know we are here, and we help," he said.