OWC Festival of Trees Serves Those in Need in Contra Costa County

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(Photographer, Sally Hogarty)
OWC member and volunteer model Sue Farmer sparkles on the runway and helps to raise funds at the Festival of Trees fashion show.

    On Nov. 15, event co-chairs Suzanne Murillo and Janet Nelson welcomed 400 guests to the 32nd Annual Orinda Woman’s Club (OWC) fundraiser at the San Ramon Marriott. The Festival of Trees event benefits many needy causes in Contra Costa County.
    Adeline McClatchie introduced the master of ceremonies, Dan Ashley, news anchor of ABC Channel 7, who took the podium after silent auction winners were announced and before lunch was served. Ashley explained the funds raised by the event will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Contra Costa County, the Contra Costa County Crisis Center and OWC community service committees.
    The OWC donates funds to nonprofit groups locally, nationally and internationally, and awards education grants to improve the lives of women and families and those aging out of the foster care system. Members of the Orinda Woman’s Club also donated gifts to VESTIA (Volunteer & Emergency Services In Action) as part of the organization’s Angel Tree Program for Foster Children in Contra Costa County.  Wrapped gifts were delivered on Dec. 3 to the Grace Episcopal Church in Martinez by member Suzanne Murillo.
    As the more than 30 wreath, basket, tree and destination raffle winners were announced, whole tables joined in cheering on the winners.
    Next, Helen Lyall, of Helen Lyall Clothes for Women at Riverfront in downtown Napa, opened the fashion show. Professional models on the runway were joined by OWC volunteers, including Sue Farmer and Patti Camras. The upbeat playlist reverberated throughout the banquet room as Junoesque models sashayed up and down the catwalk in the latest fashions. Male models wearing men’s fashions provided by Scott Lyall Clothes for Men at Riverfront in Napa and Clothes for Men in Sonoma closed out the fashion show.
    NAMI Contra Costa is the first beneficiary named for this fundraiser. NAMI’s mission statement views its goal as providing support, outreach, education and advocacy to individuals living with and families affected by mental illness. Gigi R. Crowder, executive administrator, says, “NAMI Contra Costa is thrilled to be selected as one of the beneficiaries of the OWC spectacular Festival of Trees Fundraising event.”
    She continues, “Since all our services are offered free of charge and NAMI CC’s mission is to support, educate and advocate, any funds we receive will be used to implement a NAMI Signature educational program, ‘Ending the Silence.’ This important program is for young people and designed to promote healthy conversation about recognizing and offering support to peers experiencing signs of depression. Our goal at NAMI CC is to reduce suicide rates for youth here in Contra Costa County.” For more information, visit www.namicontracosta.org.
    Tom Tamura, the executive director of the Contra Costa Crisis Center, the second beneficiary designated by OWC, painted the broad strokes of his organization’s mission: “The mission of the Contra Costa Crisis Center is to keep people alive and safe, help them through crises, and provide or connect them with culturally relevant resources in the community. By providing crisis and suicide prevention, grief counseling, and 211 information and referral services, our critical work ensures that Contra Costa women and their families have the support they need to live, grow and thrive in the face of immense challenges such as trauma, loss, depression, poverty or illness.”
    Tamura also spoke directly to how funding from this event will make a difference: “With the generous donation from the Orinda Woman’s Club, we will expand our outreach and training in the community, while also strengthening our grief and post-vention programs which mobilize a team of our staff and volunteers to any school in the county in response to suicide and other unexpected, traumatic loss of life.” For more information visit www.crisis-center.org.
    OWC President Caroline Callaway expressed her gratitude for the many volunteers who made the afternoon so enjoyable and for the generosity of all the guests who attended. For more information about the Orinda Woman’s Club, go to www.orindawomansclub.org.

(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
A sampling of the table top trees, baskets and wreaths raffled off at this year’s Festival of Trees.
(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
A professional model from Helen Lyall Fashions.
(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Local Realtor, Patti Camras, took a turn on the runway.
(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Local chef Charles Vollmar modeled in this year’s fashion show.

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