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Cole Porter Evening Doubles as Victory Party

July 22, 1987|PAMELA MARIN

Search Foundation's black-tie benefit was an ambitious "Evening With Cole Porter."

Guests danced to the Sound of Music Orchestra and the Special Delivery Band, watched a video montage of '30s dance numbers and a humorous home movie called "The Making of a Gala" and honored Rosey and Margie Grier with the second annual National Drug Avoidance Award.

For the 300 foundation members and supporters gathered at the Irvine Hilton Friday night, the "Evening with Cole Porter" fund-raiser doubled as a "victory party," according to Search founder and president Beverly Thompson Coil.

Eighteen months ago, Coil enlisted 20 friends--seasoned fund-raisers all--to help bring drug education to the nation's elementary schools. Coil said she had become concerned about drugs when one of her daughter's classmates died of an overdose.

"This young lady was in Hawaii modeling, met some gorgeous man, flew off into the distance and that was the last of her," said Coil, gowned in yards of swishing black silk. "I was so stunned. I sat down with my kids (Marne, 20, and Vance, 23) and we started talking about drugs. What did they know? How did they know it? It turned out what they knew they'd learned in high school. And statistics show that's just too late to make a difference."

It was then that Coil and friends began raising funds to produce a drug education video and distribute it to elementary schools throughout the country. At the victory bash on Friday, she announced that the group's financial goals had been met and that Arnold Shapiro Productions, creator of "Scared Straight," had completed a script for Search. If production goes as planned, the 12-minute anti-drug video "will be in schools by the end of the fall '87 semester," Coil said.

Rosey Grier showed up in a tux coat decorated with silver sequinned stars the size of sunflowers--a leftover from his wardrobe for a Super Bowl television special. With wife, Margie, at his side, Grier talked over cocktails about their inner-city program, "Are You Committed?" which "teaches young people how to be the best they can be. And drugs are not any part of that."

"People get discouraged when they think about drugs because of the enormity of the problem," Grier said. "They feel overwhelmed. But you've got to go at the problem one person at a time. You don't beat (drug abuse) by going for the masses; you beat it by winning the heart and the mind of one person at a time."

As guests moved into the ballroom for a dinner of smoked salmon pate, spinach salad, roast veal with wild rice and boysenberry mousseline in apricot puree, Barry Cole's Sound of Music Orchestra played such Porter tunes as "Begin the Beguine" and "Anything Goes." In alternate sets, Special Delivery kicked out the jams with a potpourri ranging from "Jailhouse Rock" and "Twist and Shout" to "Walk Like an Egyptian." As a surprise treat, special guest Marilyn McCoo, a close friend of the Griers, delivered a stirring "To God Be the Glory."

After dinner and some short speeches, guests participated in a Portuguese auction--a complicated ritual that was two parts game show, one part pandemonium. Coil estimated proceeds for the evening in excess of $50,000.

The key words at the Mesa Verde Country Club were "power," "planning" and "potential"--try saying that with a mouthful of crudites!--as 130 women and dutiful escorts gathered to raise money for Coastline Community College's ninth annual Conference for Women.

Benefit chair Kerry Reynolds pulled together the white wine and hors d'oeuvres cocktail party Thursday night and also donated a weekend at the Reynolds' Lake Tahoe condo to the silent auction.

"For me, the joy of this (conference) is helping women discover and maintain their own power," said Reynolds, a Newport Beach communications consultant and Cheryl Tiegs look-alike. "I think those of us who are 'up there'--who have achieved success in our chosen careers--have an obligation to help other women get ahead."

The theme of this year's conference, which will be held Aug. 14-15 at the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel, is "Options for Action: Your Personal Plan."

Barbara Beckley, dean of community services at Coastline, said the conference advisory committee meets throughout the year to "shape a conference that will reflect the current needs of working women."

"This year, we found ourselves confronting the question: 'Are women really using their own resources to make the most of what they do, or are we still getting trapped in a corporate structure that limits our capacity to achieve?' " Beckley said.

All conference speakers and discussion leaders donate their time; the estimated $6,400 raised Thursday will help offset conference costs "and make the conference affordable for everyone who wants to attend," said Reynolds.

Conference chairwoman Edie Fee, vice president of Avco Financial Services in Irvine, was pleased to report that Avco had incorporated the conference into the company's human resources department.

"Last year, we sent 150 women to the conference," Fee said, "and the results were phenomenal. They were so flattered that the company cared about them professionally, and so stimulated by what they saw and heard. It really helped draw out their potential. It helped them look at themselves and say, 'Hey, I could be doing something more.' When they got back to work, many of them really viewed their jobs as careers for the first time."

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