September 19, 2019

STANDUP FOR KIDS: Gala Supporting Homeless Youth Fundraiser

By Rhonda Ricardo, Special to California Business Journal 

Throughout the room of elegant tables, under twinkling lights, wait-staff offered an array of delicious hors d’oeuvres to the over 200 cocktail attired attendees as they mingled, enjoyed music by DJ Jonnix-Johnny Rodriguez and happily added their bids to silent auction items including prizes sponsored by Christian Dior, Dale Winston, Elite Island Resorts, Hollywood Wax Museum, Knott’s Berry Farm, Village Gallery and Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament,  displayed at Chuck Jones Center For Creativity in Costa Mesa, on May 19 in support of StandUp For Kids’ (SUFK) Gala to benefit Orange County’s homeless youth.

Nishant Kumar, D.O., Advisory Board Chair, welcomed the guests, thanked the board, the gala committee including Justine Palmore, Brittany Blackburn, Anna McCarthy, Trish Coury, Evelyn Harris, Stephanie Schneider and Linda Wilkie, volunteers, dignitaries and sponsor’s including, The Bascom Group, Umpqua Bank, 24 Carrots Catering and Events, Acadia Healthcare, DBT Center of Orange County, Beachside Recovery, Asset Protection & Elder Law Center and New Method Wellness for supporting SUFK’s mission to end the cycle of youth homelessness.

Kumar reported there are over 27,000 homeless kids (grades K-12 that have identified with their schools that they are homeless) in O.C., many alone and in unsafe environments.  Justine Palmore, Executive Director and Brittany Blackburn, Assistant Executive Director were presented with bouquets of flowers as the crowd cheered their leadership and inspiring dedication to O.C.’s homeless children.

“The hotline is constantly ringing,” Kumar said, explaining how part of the tragedy of youth homelessness is that these kids have nowhere to go and don’t know where to get advice or food.  SUFK has developed an active street outreach program with qualified knowledgeable counselors. “By providing these individuals (preteen-24) with supportive relationships with caring adults we help them adjust to safe and appropriate living arrangements so they can eventually become independent self-sufficient contributing members of society,” said Kumar, receiving applause from the audience including Vicki Geisler, Assessment Assist Concierge Evaluations; Dr. Letitia Wright, Marquise Icon; Chuck Gullo, Music From the Streets and Ralph Hulett, Rockretrospect Photographer as gourmet five-course dinners were served by 24 Carrots

Anna McCarthy, PhD, Advisory Board Member, continued the presentation with a story that detailed a young girl’s struggle to survive growing up with a drug-addicted mother then becoming homeless where she was stabbed three times and beat up on the streets.  The young woman, now 22, was given the tools to become self-sufficient by SUFK mentors.  As McCarthy introduced the young woman who spoke about her caring mentors, the processes to secure her place to live and recently receiving a management promotion at work she was given a standing ovation by the attendees. The young woman credited SUFK, “I can’t even explain, they’re like family.”

McCarthy spoke of the next pre-teen girl, and gifted poetry writer, who suffered extreme physical abuse by alcoholic adults, became a homeless teenager, but then found SUFK.  Now at 21 years old, she still suffers from nightmares and panic attacks but with access to mental health care through SUFK and working with her mentors she knows she has hope for the very first time.

Citing concern for the progression from the substantial divorce rate to single mothers/parents with children becoming homeless McCarthy said, “They all deserve to have hope.  We need to stop stories like these.  Thank you.”

The auctioneer, Amy Ashton, Standup Comedienne and TV Executive Producer, led a festive fund-a-need live auction to benefit SUFK’s “House of Hope” bringing laughter and raised bidder paddles from donors throughout the room to help bring the gala’s preliminary fundraising total to approximately $80,000.

Dessert was served as the DJ’s music filled the room and attendees were welcomed to the dance floor.  For information about SUFK, please visit or for immediate needs please call the SUFK hotline at 888-365-4543.

STANDUP FOR KIDS: Gala Supporting Homeless Youth Fundraiser

StandUp For Kids, a national non-profit organization who assists homeless and at-risk youth, will be hosting a gala on May 19, 2018 which will be the primary fundraiser for Orange County’s first ever StandUp For Kids’ House of Hope.

The goal is to raise funds for a StandUp For Kids’ “House of Hope”.  The Gala funds will be used to secure a facility to house six emergency shelter beds, outreach meeting space and an office space for staff/volunteers. Additionally, the house can provide homeless and at-risk youth with access to Wi-Fi and computers, showers, laundry facilities, hot meals and a safe environment to meet with caring mentors.

STANDUP FOR KIDS May 19, 2018 GALA itinerary and information includes:

Cocktail hour with live DJ music beginning at 6 p.m.

Entertainment by Magic Castle/World Champion Magician Johnny Ace Palmer.

Current confirmed gala guest amount is 200 attendees and our ultimate Gala goal is 250 attendees.

The dress is cocktail attire. A single ticket is $150.  A table (10-seats) is $1,200.

Each ticket will include a 3-course-meal, dessert and complimentary wine/champagne.

A cash bar will be available for cocktails.

A silent auction with prizes including several vacation packages and luxury gift bags.

There will be StandUp For Kids speakers and a live Fund A Need appeal-auction featuring Comedienne/Auctioneer Amy Ashton (HBO, Comedy Central, writer for the late Joan Rivers).

After dinner coffee and dessert will be served as the DJ invites the attendees to enjoy the dancefloor.

The Gala will take place at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, 3321 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, CA from

6 p.m. to 10 p.m.  For tickets visit:


StandUp For Kids (SUFK), founded in 1990, is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose target mission is assisting homeless and the at-risk population between the ages of 12 and 24. We have 17 chapters in 10 states across the U.S., including the District of Columbia.  Our primary goal is to establish and build relationships with runaway, homeless and street-dependent youth.  Through supportive relationships with caring adults, we help youth adjust to safe and appropriate living arrangements while becoming independent, self-sufficient, contributing members of society.

For further information or questions, please contact Brittany Blackburn at (714) 356-5437 or, fax: (714) 276-1453 or mail: P.O. Box 14398, Irvine, CA 92623

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