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ORANGE COUNTY PEOPLE: ACHIEVEMENTS AND CELEBRATIONS
| ANN CONWAY

No Star, Stellar Show

Snow Keeps Jane Seymour From Childhelp Benefit, but Event Still a Success

March 23, 2000|ANN CONWAY

It was the last thing the hundreds of women gathered for lunch wanted to hear: Jane Seymour was a no-show.

Stranded in snow-covered Colorado, the popular television star sent last-minute regrets to organizers of a recent benefit for Childhelp USA.

The actress, who is also a spokeswoman for Childhelp, was scheduled to receive the Children's Friend Award during the annual event, which netted $160,000 for the organization's residential treatment programs for abused children.

The crowd uttered a collective groan when Carol Packard, president of the Orange County chapter of Childhelp, announced the disappointing news.

"With all the wonderful things Jane has made happen for Childhelp, why can't she make it quit snowing?" Packard quipped as she stood onstage in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Irvine.

But the show would go on, Packard said. With Childhelp founders Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O'Meara on hand, the event was still a winner.

Indeed. O'Meara and Fedderson were Hollywood actresses who'd met on the classic "Ozzie and Harriet" television show when they were sent on a government-sponsored trip in 1959 to visit troops in Japan.

It was there that they beheld the sight that forever changed their lives: 11 homeless orphans wandering on the streets of Tokyo.

After the young women returned to California, they began to raise funds to care for Japanese orphans.

Later, with encouragement from their friend Nancy Reagan, the women set their sights on raising funds to help abused and neglected children in the U.S.

Today, Childhelp operates residential villages and group homes for abused children around the country.

"At our village in Beaumont, we take care of the most severely abused children," said O'Meara, who, like Fedderson, lives in Arizona. "We are their last resort. They are mostly wards of the court who have tried--unsuccessfully--to live in foster homes."

Residential treatment centers such as the village in Beaumont are uplifting places to visit, said O'Meara. "There, children blossom. They learn how to horseback ride, for example, and care for animals. And they participate in a spiritual program."

The organization also oversees a crisis-intervention hotline ([800] 4-A-CHILD) aimed at preventing child abuse.

"We can't imagine our lives without Childhelp," said O'Meara, the organization's chairman and chief executive. "We love it because we see the wonderful changes in the children. And we love the fact that it gives people an opportunity to give back to the world. In life, you have to be in service to be happy."

Guests also included luncheon chairwomen Mary Allyn Dexter, Dale San Filippo and Corky Winters. Others attending were Patti Edwards, a member of Childhelp's national board, and Billur Wallerich, director of community relations for South Coast Plaza.

UCI, Cal State Salute Leaders at Benefits

UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton staged gala benefits on Saturday honoring business and university leaders for their outstanding contributions to the community.

Receiving the UCI Medal during festivities for 700 people at the Hyatt Regency Irvine were William J. Lillyman, Donald McKayle, Ricardo Miledi and Henry and Susan Samueli.

Proceeds of more than $350,000 from the event will go toward the UCI Regents' Scholars Program. Ted and Janice Smith were co-chairpersons.

Distinguished Cal State Fullerton alumni were recognized during the annual Vision and Visionaries dinner for 600 people at the Sun Theatre in Anaheim. Honored were Dan Black, A. Terrance Dickens, Miguel A. Pulido Jr., Terry P. Rossio, Harold S. Schultz and James D. Woods.

Wayne Newton Sings for Orangewood

Appearing in a sold-out house at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton--who donated his performance--sang his way into the hearts of the Orangewood Children's Foundation.

Newton's recent nonstop two-hour show helped bring in more than $600,000 for the foundation, which raises funds for the Orangewood Children's Home. The home is the county's emergency shelter for abused and neglected children.

After the performance, Newton mingled with 200 Orangewood supporters in Founder's Hall. Guests included Willa Dean and William Lyon, the event's honorary sponsors, and Patricia L. Poss, its chairwoman.

*

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at ann.conway@latimes.com.

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