SAN DIEGO — In "The Wizard of Oz," it seems that whenever the townfolks wished to honor a fellow for his bravery, they pinned a medal on his chest and paraded the chap down Main Street.
The Women's Auxiliary of the Salvation Army Door of Hope took a modern version of this approach in honoring its special friends, by dressing them up and parading them down hotel runways that also were used for major fashion presentations.
The Door of Hope auxiliary held its 22nd annual Women of Dedication luncheon Friday at the Hotel Inter-Continental Pavilion Ballroom.
The scene at the Women of Dedication affair was fantastic. The sheer size of the crowd was stunning--there seemed to be a veritable sea of women in the ballroom's foyer, or, as one woman guest put it: "There are too many women here!" That view was not shared by event chairman Vicki Rogers, however, who belongs to the "the more the merrier" school of fund-raiser volunteers.
"This attendance puts us in a first-class, world-class category," said Rogers, gesturing at a line of tables that stretched nearly out of sight. "There are 1,043 guests here today, which is of course a record, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we will make in excess of $43,000 for the Door of Hope, which is awfully wonderful."
This annual luncheon traditionally has had little trouble attracting out-sized crowds, simply because it gives the community an opportunity to honor some of the women volunteers whose labors help ensure the continued operation of the county's cultural, charitable, educational and health institutions.
Honorees always take tables for themselves and their families, but many, many more are reserved by friends and by the institutions the honorees support. Thus, the sponsors' list was fat with such mentions as "Friends of Liz Yamada" and "Neighbors of Luba Johnston," and a smorgasbord of institutions from the La Jolla Opera Guild to the Naval Officers Wives Club.
Decorations chairmen Ingrid Hibben and Virginia Monday saw to it that this year's 15 Women of Dedication marched down a kind of primrose path, by filling the room with immense baskets packed with potted primroses; the idea seemed to be to invite spring to make an early appearance.
The presentation followed a leisurely luncheon of Oriental chicken salad and layered ice cream cake. It was just long enough to allow the men who would serve as escorts to contemplate the awful length of the runway they would have to negotiate. And it was fun to watch the spouses and offspring who took on this task; all looked proud, but more than a few seemed relieved to step off the end of the ramp, and several bore far-away expressions that hinted at a spiritual presence on the golf course.
San Diego Union society writer Burl Stiff served as master of ceremonies, and as each woman and escort appeared on the stage, he recited the honoree's civic accomplishments and contributions. Frequent interruptions of applause became the rule of the day; this year's Women of Dedication were an especially popular and appreciated group.
First down the ramp was Carol Alessio, escorted by husband Michael. Noted for her chairmanship of January's enormously successful Charity Ball, Alessio also has chaired two fund-raising luncheons for the University of San Diego, is a member of the Junior League, and leads her daughter's Brownie troop.
1985 Jewel Ball chairman Pam Allison was escorted by her husband, Donald. Her past chairmanships include a pair of Country Friends "Appearance of Autumn" shows, the 1986 "Art Alive" event at the San Diego Museum of Art, and December's "Visions of Gingerbread," given for the San Diego Repertory Theatre.
Vangie Burt paced down the ramp on the arm of her husband, attorney Richard. She has served two terms as president of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, has twice chaired the San Diego Bar Assn. auxiliary's Blackstone Ball, and chaired the 1985 "Return to Ragtime" gala for the American Cancer Society.
Next came Vickie Butcher, escorted by her husband, Dr. Richard. This former special education teacher attended law school after the birth of her fifth child, and now is a partner in an international trading school. She has volunteered in various programs promoting awareness of black history and achievement, and has served on the California State Advisory Board on Drug Programs, as well as in the San Diego County Medical Auxiliary and the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Assn.
St. Germaine Auxiliary founder Barbara Christensen navigated the ramp on the arm of husband Charles. A former president of the La Jolla Stage Company, Christensen also has served on the board of the La Jolla Social Service League and currently is on the board of "Voices for Children."