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L.A. Family Housing

November 25, 2001|Patt Diroll and Ann Conway

Looking presidential Texas-style, in coat, tie and blue jeans, Martin Sheen dashed over from his "West Wing" set at Warner's to Universal Studios Hollywood's Globe Theatre to receive an award from L.A. Family Housing for his philanthropic and humanitarian work.

The event Nov. 15 was the third time in less than 30 days the actor and activist found himself being honored--St. John's Health Center honored him Oct. 27 at its Caritas Gala; on Nov. 11, he shared the spotlight with James Burrows at the Museum of Television and Radio gala.

Comedian Paul Rodriguez emceed and Deborah Irmas chaired L.A. Family Housing's second annual dinner benefit, which drew more than 600 guests and raised $450,000.

Other honorees were builder Jeff Lee of Venice, whose firm has developed more than 1,000 houses for low and moderate income families and seniors; and Larry Kurzweil, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios Hollywood, for the studio's ongoing support, including its "Christmas in the Spring" program for L.A. Family Housing clients each year.

Founded in 1983, the agency began as a motel with 40 beds providing emergency shelter for fewer than 30 families. "We now help 12,000 people each year," said David Grunwald, chief executive of L.A. Family Housing. Accepting the award, Sheen said, "We have the best in this great country, but we also have the worst. We don't have to leave home to help the Third World. It's right here all around us. It's the homeless."

Patt Diroll

Orangewood Backers

Orangewood Children's Foundation backers William Lyon and William Steiner were honored at the Crystal Reflections benefit celebrating the group's 20th anniversary.

Five hundred guests watched as the men were awarded Baccarat butterflies, symbols of the transformations of the more than 40,000 abused, neglected and abandoned children served at the Orangewood Children's Home in Orange.

"These men saw a need for a home and set out to make it happen," foundation executive director Gene Howard said. "Their vision has made a massive impact on the youth of our community."

Last weekend's gala at the Hyatt Regency Irvine netted $250,000 for foundation programs that support the Orangewood home and provide scholarships and housing for children emancipated from the foster care system. Pat Poss of Fullerton was chairwoman.

Ann Conway

Hume at Caltech

There was no shortage of Hibernian hyperbole when Irish Nobelist John Hume visited Caltech on Tuesday. Hume, co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve the troubles in Northern Ireland, was the featured speaker at the third Lee A. DuBridge Distinguished Lecture. The event is named in memory of Caltech's president from 1946 to 1969.

A former teacher, Hume has championed the cause of peace for 30 years. He was instrumental in forming the Social Democrat and Labor Party in 1970, which he led from 1979 until stepping down earlier this month.

Kevin Cullen, of the Boston Globe and former bureau chief in Dublin and London, conducted an onstage conversation with Hume, which was preceded by dinner for more than 200 in the Athenaeum, where an Irish whiskey torte topped off the bill of fare.

Following the talk, Caltech Vice President Bob O'Rourke led a cadre of night owls to the Athenaeum bar "for a wee drop of the devil's buttermilk." There, Hume teamed up with Finbar Hill to sing "The Town I Loved So Well." In the crowd: Caltech President David Baltimore and his wife, Alice Huang; Siobhan and Donal Denham, consul general of Ireland; Peter Hunt, consul general of Great Britain; Gayle Wilson; Merle and Peter Mullin; Ambassador Peter Daily and his wife, Jackie; Ambassador John Gavin and Constance Towers and many others.

Pat Diroll

Fashion Sense

L.A.'s intrepid social terriers packed the L.A. County Museum of Art's Bing Auditorium for a lecture and tea hosted by members of the museum's Costume Council. The drawing card was Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, who took time off earlier this year to serve as curator of "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years." The expansive exhibition was assembled for New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and has just been reinstalled at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

At the tea, Bowles offered an insider's account of the first lady's original costumes created for state occasions. "She had a distinctive understanding of the power of clothing and style and the messages these convey at home and abroad," Bowles said. "Although she was only 31 when she entered the White House, Jackie Kennedy's influence on the way a generation of women wanted to look, dress and behave was primal. She defined style. And in so doing, she became the symbol of liberation from the notion that America had to be bourgeois."

Pat Diroll

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