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Spirits Rise on Angelou's Words at Costa Mesa Appearance

March 09, 2000|ANN CONWAY

Never mind that her inspirational dialogues have helped make Maya Angelou a multimillionaire.

In life, the most meaningful thing a person can accomplish is to offer encouragement to others, the 71-year-old author-poet told a sellout crowd at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

Appearing on Tuesday at the Unique Lives & Experiences lecture series that will also include talks by Whoopi Goldberg (May 2) and Arianna Huffington (June 1), Angelou used songs, stories and poetry to convey a message of hope.

Fans jumped to their feet, hooting and hollering, as they applauded the author of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" as she swept onstage in Segerstrom Hall.

She began by singing a line from an old slave-turned-gospel song: "When it looked like the sun wasn't going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds."

In her richly expressive voice, Angelou continued with some of her poetry: "She does not know her beauty; she thinks her brown body has no glory. If she could dance--naked, under the palm trees--and see her image in the river, she would know. But there are no palm trees on the street and dishwater gives back no images.

"Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm," Angelou added, smiling mischievously at her enraptured audience.

She reprised the line from the gospel song: "When it looked like the sun wasn't going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds.

"You can all be rainbows," she added, her dark eyes beaming. "We all have the possibility of being a [source] of encouragement to others."

For information on the lecture series, which will also feature appearances by former Texas Gov. Ann Richards (March 27) and Betty Mahmoody, whose abduction and escape from Iran inspired the movie "Not Without My Daughter" (May 16), call (877) 885-8124.

Parenting Award to Gibbons

NBC-TV talk-show host Leeza Gibbons, along with her husband, Stephen Meadows, and their children, Lexi, 10, Troy, 8, and Nathan, 2, will attend the Olive Crest Abused Children's Foundation's annual Black and White Ball on March 25 at the Disneyland Hotel.

During the festivities, which will include a formal dinner and performance by the Temptations, Gibbons and Meadows will be presented with Olive Crest's inaugural Parents of the Year Award.

"They exemplify a couple's dedication to raising healthy, wholesome children," said an Olive Crest spokeswoman.

The couple's philosophy of parenting: "We're respectful of our children and allow them to have their voice--but they're not rulers of their own destiny," Gibbons said during a telephone interview. "We try to be clear about boundaries."

Gibbons and Meadows, an entrepreneur, also try for consistency.

"Most of the time, when they misbehave, or do something good or want something, they pretty much know where we're going to fall on it," Gibbons said. "Their job is to test us; our job is to be consistent."

For information on the Black and White Ball: (714) 543-5437.

CHOC Fashion Parade

In a salute to children around the world, the Guilds of Children's Hospital of Orange County staged its 38th benefit fashion show at the Anaheim Marriott hotel.

With two spring style parades being staged--one during a luncheon, the other at a gala dinner the same day--nearly 1,500 people attended the recent benefit that netted $200,000 for the CHOC outpatient clinic in Santa Ana. The clinic treats sick children, regardless of their family's financial circumstances.

In keeping with the show's international theme of "Children, Our Passport to the Universe," guests sat in a ballroom decorated with cutout figures of youths decked out in colorful ethnic clothing.

Even the menu reflected the theme: Pacific Rim wraps and Euro-American chicken. Tables were decorated with cookie jars filled with daffodils and sunflowers.

"Any event that can survive for 38 years and still be viable has to be an important one," observed Helen Wardner, senior director of community relations for CHOC.

The secret to the event's staying power? "The women who make up our 15 guilds," Wardner said proudly. "They believe in the cause."

Christina Hughes, a member of the Glass Slipper Guild, was event chairwoman. Also on the committee: Sylvia Burnett, Mary Maldonado, Marcia Griffin, Dana Davis, Beverly Singer, Susan Carter, Kim Lazarus and Anne Neish.

Others were Carol Ojers, Liz Clem, Sue Krause, Jean Hamann, Lula Hatfield, Andrea Northcote, Fran Paulson, Pat Calderone and Frances Stawicki.

Wishes Come True

A 3-year-old with a rare blood disorder gets her Christmas wish: a canopy bed. A 13-year-old in a wheelchair receives the vacation of his dreams: a trip to the Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

If not for funds raised by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County, the dreams of these seriously ill Orange County children might not have come true. Since it was founded in 1983, the Irvine-based chapter has granted more than 1,100 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

About 400 supporters of Make-A-Wish gathered Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Irvine for Carnivale!--a Rio-themed gala featuring a champagne reception, gourmet dinner and Latin music.

Also on the program: A salute to the members of the Orange County medical community who treat seriously ill children. "They provide the medicine--Make-A-Wish provides the magic," said a foundation spokeswoman.

Among the Orange County doctors recognized at the affair: Pamela Kempert, Ivan L. Kirov, Michael Muhonen and Violet Shen. Wendy Johnson of Laguna Hills was chairwoman.

For information on Make-A-Wish: (949) 476-9474.

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at

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