At 77, the tall, svelte and vivacious Marcia Ray looks like an ad for Centrum Silver. In 1988, a couple of years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Ray founded Circle of Caring, a breast cancer support group at Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center. Circle of Caring has since become the longest continually running breast cancer support group in Southern California, and on Sunday, Ray was the guest of honor at the hospital's annual fund-raiser.
"Marcia's been the 'ray' of hope for hundreds of women and their families dealing with cancer," said Michael Pfaff, vice president of the hospital's foundation.
"She's been our guiding light. I don't know what we would have done without her," said Mary Lou Humble, who, along with Sandy Christopher, was among several Circle members who turned out for the black-tie affair. "She's the best."
Nearly 900 attended the black-tie bash on the hospital's campus, which featured specialties from Southland restaurants and gospel and blues band music. Event chairman Denise Anthony DeOchoa reported that this year's event raised a record-breaking $165,000.
Recently, Ray learned that after 14 years, her cancer has returned.
"God still has things for her to do," Ray's longtime friend Lina Seaver said as she wiped away tears when Ray was told that the hospital's Breast Cancer Center would be renamed in her honor.
More than 900 guests filled Spartacus Square on the back lot at Universal Studios last Thursday for the annual Spirit of Chrysalis Awards Dinner. The alfresco dinner honored Beacon Communications president Mark Abraham and Los Angeles Realtor Colin Shepherd for their support of the organization that helps homeless people in L.A. become self-sufficient through employment.
"We intend to provide 2,000 jobs in the year 2000 for the homeless," said Chrysalis board chairman, Adlai Wertman. "People start lining up outside our office at 5:30 every morning."
"About one-third of the homeless population is just a paycheck away from getting off the streets," said Shepherd, a 10-year board member. "We're helping the hardest to employ. Our philosophy is that seeking a steady job is the single most important step in a person's transition to long-term self-sufficiency."
Yolanda King, a daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., presented the Founders Award to Shepherd; Universal Pictures chairman, Stacey Snider, just back from the Federal Trade Commission hearings in Washington, D.C., made the presentation to Abraham, noting, "This is a much friendlier crowd than the one I appeared before yesterday."
The program included a video message by talk-show host Larry King, who was introduced by his wife, Shawn, who attended; a performance by the New Philadelphia AME Adult Choir, and the introduction of two people, Maria John, who are now employed and putting their lives back together with the assistance of Chrysalis. Katie Locke and Terry Curtin, co-chairs of the evening, report that proceeds exceeded $500,000.
Patt Diroll's column is published Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.