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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : Giving Shelter, Taking Wing : Ball of Butterflies Raises Funds for and Awareness of Resources for Battered Women

November 28, 1995|KATHRYN BOLD

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti and Lou Brown, father of Nicole Brown Simpson, spoke in defense of battered women Saturday at a benefit for Interval House Crisis Shelters.

Garcetti and members of the Brown family joined politicians, celebrities and more than 400 guests at "Le Bal des Papillons," a black-tie dinner held at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point. The $200-per-person gala was expected to net more than $125,000 for Interval House, which runs shelters in Orange County and Long Beach for battered women and children.

Spotlight on Spousal Abuse

Although this was the 16th annual ball of the butterflies, the event has grown both in size and star power since the O.J. Simpson case, which drew attention to the plight of battered women.

In an interview Garcetti said, "If my presence helps Interval House raise additional funds so they can serve more women, my time is well worth it." Garcetti, who attended with his wife, Sukey, later spoke during dinner about two recent cases of domestic violence in which the children saw their fathers brutally kill their mothers. He also alluded to the Simpson case.

"It took a horrible tragedy 18 months ago to galvanize this country" over domestic violence, Garcetti said. "People began to see that domestic violence was a much larger problem than anyone appreciated."

Lou Brown, accompanied by his wife, Juditha, and daughters Tanya and Dominique, spoke about preventing domestic violence and the need for more shelters.

"We still have animal shelters outnumbering shelters for women and children by three to one," he said. The Brown family and Garcetti all sported gold angel pins in Nicole's memory.

"Nicole, I'm sure, is happy up in heaven," Brown said. "But let's not send any more [women] up there. It's overcrowded already."

Other VIPs, including Deputy French Consul General Philippe Vinogradoss and Michael Turpen of the National Organization for Victims Assistance, spoke movingly about spousal abuse. Yet it was three graduates of Interval House who had some members of the audience wiping away tears.

Janine Limas, now a graduate worker at Interval House, looked gorgeous in her black evening gown, but the story she told about life with a man she once viewed as "Prince Charming" was an ugly one:

"After he'd been drinking he became more and more violent. One night he beat me up so badly there wasn't a spot on my body that wasn't bruised," she said.

"My two toddlers gave me the strength to call Interval House. When I walked through their doors, for the first time in five years I knew I was going to be safe."

Holiday Spirit

While the cause was a somber one, the mood of the ball was festive, in part due to the ambience of the Ritz-Carlton, which looked like an enchanted wonderland. Thousands of white mini-lights adorned the hotel entrance, and lavish holiday garlands and sparkling trees graced its interior.

In the ballroom, guests sat at tables with towering crystal candelabra that held bouquets of pale peach roses. They dined on a gourmet meal orchestrated by Ritz-Carlton chef Christian Rassinoux that included lobster ravioli, smoked and confit duck, filet of venison and a dessert of cream of marscapone marquise.

During dinner, event co-hosts Beverly Garland, actress, and Mark Thompson, Fox News anchor, conducted a live auction with the help of some stars: actors Lee Meriwether, John Schuck, Roger Perry and his wife, comedienne Jo Anne Worley. Worley revved up the crowd by threatening them with a plastic golf club when a golf dream vacation was up for bid and delivering her zany laugh, made famous from her days on the "Laugh-In" TV show.

As if that weren't enough on the evening's busy agenda, guests were also entertained by jazz singer Barbara Morrison, Mary Wilson of the Supremes and Danny House and His Orchestra.

Ball proceeds will support Interval House's programs and services, including a 24-hour hot line, a children's center and counseling.

"In the past year we've assisted more than 15,000 women and children. Our calls are up 20% to 30%," said Robert Armstrong, ball president.

Other faces in the crowd were: Carol Anne Williams, executive director of Interval House, and her brother Bill Williams, program director; Joyce Kakkis, ball chairwoman, and her husband, Peter Fotinakes; Joe and Susie Thigpen; Jerry and Donna Dominguez; Bob and Vicki Mullins; Harry and Shari Esayian; Bill and Michelle Stearns; Patricia and Richard Schmid; Michael and Harlene Goodrich; Harrison Houle; Ron and Gloria Sarno; Isa Rogers; Robert and Barbara Barnes, and George Wills.

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