Santa Ana Heights resident Pat Cox described herself as a Republican and an active member of the Presbyterian church.
Barbara Miles said, right off, "I have five children of my own, and my husband has five children from a previous marriage. We're a big family."
These two might be considered unlikely foot soldiers in the war for women's reproductive rights. "The stereotypes have gotta go," said Cox, briskly. "This is about a woman's choice."
Cox and Miles were honored on Saturday by members and friends of the South Coast Organization of Planned Parenthood--a fund-raising group they founded 11 years ago.
Attending the benefit--a Mexican-themed buffet dinner held in a banquet building in Costa Mesa--were 110 guests who paid $125 each. The evening netted about $12,000 for the local chapter of Planned Parenthood, according to event chairwoman Gloria Longley.
During cocktail hour, mariachis serenaded, margaritas flowed and waiters bearing silver trays stacked with crispy goodies (chicken flautas, nachos, empanadas) threaded through the casually attired crowd.
Among guests was Margie Fites Seigle, executive director of the local chapter of Planned Parenthood. Seigle said that although the pro-choice movement had suffered setbacks lately--including an unfavorable Supreme Court decision and the governor's recent budget cuts for family planning services--she was encouraged by the reaction of the community.
"The public support that has come out has been overwhelming," she said. "We've gotten hundreds of calls: 'What can I do?' 'How can I help?' 'Can I stuff envelopes for you?' 'Where do I send the check?' It's been phenomenal."
The same reaction was noted by Phyllis Wallace, president of the 106-member fund-raising group founded by Cox and Miles. "We've had a lot of activity lately," she said. "I think that many people feel that Roe vs. Wade (the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion) is something they don't want to see reversed."
Miles stressed the "many positive things about Planned Parenthood," such as its fertility clinic, pregnancy counseling and prenatal care programs.
"And choice is positive," she added. "Sometimes, when people find out about my big family, they say, 'Barbara! How can you--of all people--be involved with Planned Parenthood?'
"And I say: 'Listen. I had five children because I love children. And I support Planned Parenthood because I love children. Anyone who thinks this organization is anti-child is wrong, wrong, wrong ."
Fund raising for AIDS: The hills were alive with the sound of music. And laughter. And a couple of dozen belly-flopped splashes!
By the time the sun blazed its last on Sunday, the back-yard party at Al Roberts' and Ken Jillson's Laguna Beach digs had netted more than $120,000 for the AIDS Services Foundation of Orange County.
Roberts' and Jillson's fourth annual "Big Splash" bash--an afternoon get-together highlighted by a stage show of Jillson's creation--drew 400 guests at ticket prices ranging from $50 for general admission to $10,000 for dinner and eight pool-side seats for the show.
This year's entertainment was a musical tribute to Hollywood, performed by a cast of 35 amateurs who made up for their lack of talent or rehearsal time with the sheer joy of their vamped-up abandon.
There were Mae West, with three-inch eyelashes, and Annette Funicello, shimmying at her own Muscle Beach party. Carmen Miranda, Faye Wray, Esther Williams and the Andrews Sisters were among the others making waves (some literally, splashing the top-ticket donors) before the 50-minute spectacle was through and guests made for the buffet tables.
"This is an incredible day because the community can be together in one place and because everyone knows that all the money they spent (for tickets) is actually going to help others," said Joel Miller, executive director of the AIDS Services Foundation.
Miller said proceeds from the event--which was completely underwritten by Roberts and Jillson--will be used for direct-assistance cash grants to cover outstanding bills for AIDS patients in financial crisis, to fund ASF's food bank and to cover costs at the two residences for AIDS patients run by the foundation.