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ANN CONWAY

Shanti Joins Stars, Benefit in a Big Way to fight AIDS

November 24, 1998|ANN CONWAY

Laguna Shanti did it again--pulled off a benefit with star power.

Anyone who thought last year's inaugural Caring Heart Awards Gala honoring Michael Feinstein, Nathan Lane and Judith Light was beginner's luck, got a surprise Sunday night.

Leaders of the nonprofit agency that provides support services to Orange County HIV/AIDS patients presented awards to show-business icons Carol Channing and Rita Moreno, and featured "Phantom of the Opera" star Davis Gaines in concert.

Also on the bill at the tony Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point: award presenters George Chakiris--who starred with Moreno in "West Side Story," for which they both won Academy Awards--and Broadway star Patrick Cassidy, who served as gala emcee.

"Laguna Shanti has hit it big," said Scott Mauro of Los Angeles, event producer. (Mauro's credits include "Liza Minnelli--Stepping Out at Radio City" and "Cher--Live at the Paramount.")

Mauro helped fellow Laguna Shanti supporters select the award winners.

"It was very important for us to pick people who were crusaders in the fight against AIDS, and I knew what these two stars had done for years in that fight," he said.

More than 300 guests gave standing ovations to Moreno and Channing, stunning in a silver-spangled mini-dress.

Channing likened the spirit of AIDS benefits to the days she entertained troops during the '40s.

"Every time I do an AIDS benefit, it feels a lot like World War II," she said. "Backstage, you get the feeling it's wartime and we're all on the same side--pulling hard."

Daniel E. Haspert of Laguna Beach--a doctor specializing in the treatment of patients with HIV/AIDs--received the Caregiver of the Year Award. Net proceeds were estimated at $50,000.

*

Protecting children: Orange County Supervisor William G. Steiner welcomed fellow board members of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to a luncheon at the agency's California branch in Tustin last week.

The local office helps recover "100 children in Orange County on an annual basis," said Steiner, a children's advocate who once was executive director of the Orangewood Children's Foundation. "We provide services for basically the whole western side of the United States."

The Washington-based center was founded in 1981 after the murder of 5-year-old Adam Walsh in Florida. The boy was abducted as his mother shopped in a retail store.

"We find missing children and we work with children who are being victimized," said Shirley Goins, executive director of the California branch. "Most missing children are victims of family abductions. The parents are angry with each other and the children pay the price."

The center also has safety information for kids.

Tips include:

* Check with your parents or the person in charge before going anywhere.

* Use the buddy system; be with others when you play outside.

* Talk to grown-ups you trust about your feelings and concerns.

Steiner had this advice for parents: "Know where your children are. Keep the lines of communication open. Understand that most victimization of children occurs with people they know."

During the luncheon Thursday, organizers also remembered the late Rick L. Rozar--founder of the Santa Ana-based CDB Infotek, a purveyor of public records on the Internet--as a significant supporter of the center. Rozar was 44 when he died last month after an apparent fall from the roof at his Newport Beach home.

"Rick used his resources at CDB Infotek to recover many children across America," Steiner said.

Rozar's fiancee, Marianne Jongebreur, 33, of Laguna Beach was among guests who watched Steiner dedicate a wall plaque in Rozar's memory.

That evening, Jongebreur joined center supporters for a dinner benefit at developer William Lyon's home in Coto de Caza. Including a $100,000 donation from Kingston Technology in Fountain Valley, the event netted about $220,000. For information on the center: (714) 508-0150.

*

Arts collaboration: At $1,000 a ticket, it was one of the priciest fund-raisers of the season. But supporters of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Irvine Barclay Theatre who last week attended Counterpoint--their first combined benefit--got their money's worth.

They enjoyed a backstage reception at Cheng Hall and prime seats when they heard cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform three of Bach's Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, then they dined with the artist afterward in the avant-garde Metropolis nightclub across from UC Irvine.

"Tonight you heard three of the six greatest pieces ever written . . . performed by the greatest cellist who ever lived," philharmonic executive director Dean Corey told the crowd. "Save your programs . . . because this night will be [remembered] as one of the great experiences of your life."

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