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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : A Model Benefit : County Bar Foundation Raises $30,000 for Program That Aids Troubled Youth

October 05, 1994|KATHRYN BOLD

Although the baseball season has been canceled and the hockey season is on ice, sports fans found reason to cheer at "The Main Event at MainPlace '94," a benefit for Shortstop, the Orange County Bar Foundation's program for troubled youth.

More than 800 people turned up at Nordstrom in MainPlace/Santa Ana Saturday for a sporty fashion show that featured members of the legal profession modeling everything from athletic wear to evening gowns. The $50-per-person benefit was staged by Nordstrom, American Express and the Orange County Bar Assn. and netted about $30,000 for Shortstop, a bilingual juvenile crime diversion program.

Winning Style

With the exception of sports celebrities Greg Myers, catcher for the California Angels, and Los Angeles Raiderette Kim Seidenberg, all of the models were recruited from the ranks of Shortstop supporters. Volunteer models paid $500 each to take a turn down the ramp.

Among the more striking was Nancy Pettus, the event co-chairwoman:

"Because this is MainPlace, we called this the Main Event and played off the sports theme," she said. Fashions included sweats, varsity jackets and career ensembles that Nordstrom dubbed "law suits."

Guests whooped and whistled when they recognized their favorite figures from the courtroom. The appreciative crowd included many attorneys, a fact not lost on emcee Bill Bedsworth, who joked: "We just got word that the O.J. defense team has finished dinner and gone home, so we are now the largest gathering of lawyers in California."

After the show, guests visited buffets stocked with hors d'oeuvres and desserts and indulged in a little after-hours shopping.

Prevention

Shortstop's mission is to keep troubled youngsters, most of them first-time offenders, from being lured into a life of crime. Youngsters and their parents must attend sessions at courthouses in Santa Ana or Newport Beach. They meet with people inside the judicial system who give them a glimpse of what their lives would be like if they continue to get into trouble.

"It's a person-to-person program. The people passing the message are attorneys, probation officers and incarcerated kids," said William O'Hare, event co-chairman.

Youngsters visit a holding cell and spend time with a ward of the California Youth Authority, who tells them what life is like in jail.

"(The wards) are fairly toughened kids and sometimes they put it on pretty thick. They're not shy about confronting them," O'Hare said.

Shortstop serves 1,200 families a year. Youths are referred to the program by police, schools, probation departments and even parents. A study found that about 90% of youngsters stayed out of trouble after attending the Shortstop program.

"This works because we get the kids early. That's the key to turning them around," said Kathy Bonner, Shorstop director.

Among the models and guests were entertainers John Gastellum and Franz Miller; Judith Ryan, Shortstop board president; Jess Araujo, president-elect of the Shortstop board, and wife Donna; Jane Martin, Shortstop executive director; Michael Capizzi, Orange County district attorney; Michael Schumacher, chief of the Orange County probation department, and Mike Carona, Orange County marshal.

Also, Nancy Ramirez Reed, Rodger and Deanne Carey, Francisco Firmat, Kathy Derevan, Steve McCracken and Sue Waggener, Shannon Miller, William Grenner, Charmy Harker, Adriana Mier, Donald Morrow and Judy Johnson, Michael Hornak, Al and Cindy Stokke and Robert Whalen.

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