'Tis the season. And things were more than jolly at "Silvery Holiday," Saturday night's sterling bash that marked the 25th anniversary of the Las Damas del Mar Auxiliary of the Children's Home Society.
They were downright fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. Chalk it up to the five Christmas trees that lit up the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Laguna Niguel like, well, a Christmas tree. Or the good will of Merlin Robertson, the man who bid $1,500 and won the whimsical "Caroling Tree"--only to return it to the society for its day-care center in Santa Ana.
Or credit the evening's giddiness to the serendipitous fortune of Bob and Cynthia Carrick--donors for 25 years of trees to the holiday affair--who won "Silver Fantasy," a fir hung with ornaments that commemorated the auxiliary's past 25 years. Or, the Dickensian carolers who serenaded the 300 guests before a sit-down dinner that included a flaming rum savarin dessert paraded grandly by high-stepping waiters, or the swinging sounds of the Special Delivery band, a group so lively guests danced well past the party's prescribed 12:30 p.m. departure time.
But don't forget to credit Liz Hodges, the woman who started it all. Or her late husband, Dr. Gordon Hodges, to whom the evening was dedicated.
"I didn't dream the auxiliary would be going after 25 years," said Hodges, dressed in a blaze of black sequins. "There were times when I thought we'd go under, but we always came back, pulled through."
Hodges said the San Clemente-based auxiliary's quarter-century of volunteer strength had been built on a foundation of "high goals."
"Our group is full of special women," she said. "The kind of women who are willing to give enough time to be able to set goals, then get the job done."
Today, getting the job done means fund-raising for children's counseling, adoptions and expectant parent services.
But 25 years ago, the job was so hands on, Hodges said, that "when a child was born, we were the ones who picked up the baby at the hospital and took it to the Children's Home Society's main office in Santa Ana. That always made me feel useful, but it also was heartbreaking. The unwed mothers seemed to be so alone, so afraid, so young. . . ."
Also winning trees in the raffle (7,000 tickets--some sold before the event--were sold at $1 each) were Rachel and Joe Smith, Bonnie and Walter Ortega and Cindy and Terry McIntire.
Karleen Van Dam is president of the auxiliary. Committee members for the $160-per-couple affair, which netted an estimated $40,000, were co-chairwomen Evie Sutherland and Pat Cleaver, and Ethel Crane, Pat Higgins, Bonnie Plank, Jayne LeHecka, Monica Hunnicutt, Cindy McIntire, Mary Brooks, Terryle Wilk, Elaine Mathes, Diane Neville, Jean Wagner, Daria Waples, Melanie Roquet, Diane Shirley and Diana Brownson.