About 50 community and business leaders attended a dinner party Wednesday to start a $5-million fund-raising drive for the South Orange County YWCA Hotel for Women, a shelter for homeless women in Santa Ana. The low-key get-together filled a few plush, white-carpeted central rooms in Sandy and Betsy Sanders' Anaheim Hills home--the first of a series of consciousness- and money-raising events dubbed "Great Homes for the Homeless."
"That name is a little embarrassing, isn't it?" Betsy Sanders said. "I don't take it to mean 'look at my great home ,' but in the sense of reminding us all of how much we have. If we have a home, a job, the self-confidence it takes to maintain a job--if we have all of that, we're very lucky.
"Every home is a great home," the hostess said.
(And her great home--an "estate," according to a realtor's full-color flyer untucked from Sandy's roll-top desk--is for sale.)
Guests parked on the street and rode a limo up the short, albeit steep, driveway.)
The Hotel for Women is a 38-bed facility that houses and feeds homeless women for up to 60 days and provides assistance programs, including psychological counseling, medical and legal referrals and employment guidance and training. With the "Great Homes" campaign, management and supporters of the 3-year-old shelter hope to create an endowment fund to meet long-term financial needs.
Mary Douglas, the South Orange County YWCA executive director, said the hotel runs on a $250,000 annual budget, less than $50,000 of which comes from local, state and federal funds.
"We're trying to provide a model program, and to do that we need a lot of money (from the private sector)," Douglas said. "I get the impression that people think the problem of homelessness is going away. In fact, the reverse is true."
"This community has been extremely generous," said Arlene Sontag, president of the YWCA board. "We burned our ($1.1-million) mortgage after just two years--one of the bank vice presidents came down and lit the match--so I think that says something about the generosity here. But I'm not sure operations and maintenance is quite as glamorous as building a building. This may be a little tougher to raise money for."
Sandi Weber, a member of the campaign leadership, said organizers hope to raise half of the projected $5 million by the end of the year. " This year," Weber said, smiling.
Betsy Sanders did her own cooking--with a little help from Jeanne Dorsey, who cooks for hotel residents. "We're going Southwest tonight," said Sanders, who was busy at the burners when she wasn't hostessing. "Let's see, we're having Mexican chicken Kiev, corn pudding, zucchini a la question mark and salad a la double question mark--that's salad with oranges and onions and pecans and a raspberry vinaigrette." Peeking into the oven, Dorsey said, "I'm doing the Mexican Jewish chicken and the pudding. I'm calling it corn-with-a-sense-of-humor pudding."
In shorts and a sweat shirt, Chris Sanders, 19, tended bar for his parents. As he explained to one guest: "If I'd been hired, I probably couldn't have dressed like this."
Who Was There
Cocktailing and dining on Southwest with a sense of humor were Orange County Supervisor Thomas F. Riley and his wife, Emma Jane, chairwoman of the fund-raising campaign; Bob Chesney and Gay Kroll, who produced a 10-minute videotape about the shelter--which played continuously in the Sanders den--for use in soliciting contributions; hotel director Dianne Russell; retired Superior Court judge Judy Ryan; Bill and Betty Palmer; Ted and Marilyn Parker; Jon and Camie McClintock; Roger and Barbara Allensworth, and George and Joan Dashiell.
"When they asked me to get involved," said Betsy Sanders, "I said, 'You know what? I'm years late. Let's go.' "