2018 Friends of CASA Holiday Luncheon



Matthew Wadlinger

Chief Communications Officer



Santa Ana, Calif. (December 19, 2018) – Friends of CASA, a fundraising auxiliary of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), hosted its 2018 Holiday Luncheon on Thursday, December 13, at The Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. The Luncheon and Fashion Show that began as a Holiday Tea is in its 23nd year of existence and has brought in over 4 million dollars since 1995. This year’s Luncheon had a record breaking net for the fifth year in a row – with more than $452,000 that will go directly to supporting CASA’s mission of recruiting, training, and supervising community volunteers who mentor and advocate for children in the foster care system.

The Luncheon was chaired by Melissa Rohani and Michelle Fisher, who were assisted by a team of over 85 members from the Friends of CASA (FOCASA) auxiliary group, which is led by the newly appointed FOCASA President, Lori Jackson. Five hundred and thirty guests filled the halls and decks outside of the ballroom to bid on 200 auction packages during the champagne reception. Guests were able to fulfill a foster child’s wish through ornaments placed on the “Starfish Wish Trees”, featuring 202 different wishes from the children in the CASA program which included items like dance classes, summer camp and a laptop computer for a college bound young adult. For the second year in a row the trees were sponsored and beautifully decorated by Barclay Butera Interiors.

The ballroom at the Monarch Beach Resort was beautifully decorated and styled by Elite OC Productions. Tory Burch created an immersive experience, down to the Tory Burch designed table cloths and napkins. This year’s fashion presentation by Tory Burch and South Coast Plaza featured Celebrity Fashion Stylist, Brad Goreski, on stage to help present the collections. Tory Burch showed 20 beautiful looks from the Resort 2019 collection, as well as the Spring/Summer 2019 Tory Sport collection.

This year’s keynote speaker was the 2017-2018 Miss Outstanding Teen Arizona, Dimon Sanders. Dimon shared her story of entering the foster care system in June of 2009 due to abuse by her biological father and neglect by her biological mother. “Over the course of my 5 years in the foster care system, I had 2 attorneys, 5 behavioral health specialists, 5 therapists, 5 case managers, attended 5 schools and lived in 13 different foster care placements. That’s a total of 35 people who came in and out of my life. My source of consistency was person number 36, my CASA”. Ms. Sanders proudly shared with the crowd that she was adopted out of the foster care system with the help of her Court Appointed Special Advocate and has since graduated college.

An opportunity drawing donated by Lugano Diamonds was a Diamond Bangle featuring 3.69cts Round Brilliant Collection VS Diamonds set in 18K White Gold which values for $20,000, was won by CASA Board of Directors Member, Susan Leibel.

Diamond Starfish Sponsors for this event include the Official Jewelry Sponsor, Lugano Diamonds, and Shiva Ommi. Ruby Starfish Sponsors are Michelle and David Fisher as well as Melissa and Parsa Rohani.

Friends of CASA are committed to raising funds for CASA of Orange County’s mentor-advocate program for abused and neglected children in the foster care system.  Through the annual Holiday Luncheon, the Friends of CASA raise awareness of the CASA program, recruiting volunteers and long-term donors to CASA. This year’s Executive Committee of the Holiday Luncheon was comprised by the following Friends of CASA members: Kimberly DeLamar Matties, Jennifer Gonzales Oxen, Jennifer Hanlon, Debra Klein-Sanner, Lori Jackson, Joanna James, Molly Jolly, Patty Juarez, Mei Li, Sandi Marino, Debbie Masek, Colleen Masterson, Sarah Minakary, Stefanie Stamires, Janine Wald and Marjie Zethraus.

About Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Orange County is a privately-funded non-profit organization that serves severely abused, neglected and abandoned children through the recruitment, training and continued support of volunteers who advocate and mentor these children, representing their best interest in the courtroom and other settings. Founded in 1985, with major support from the Junior League of Orange County, CASA serves approximately 700 of the children who move through the dependency court system due to being victims of abuse and neglect. We are able to serve these children through the generous support of those who donate to CASA as well as the immeasurable compassion and commitment of our CASA advocates. At CASA of Orange County, our mantra is I am for the Child. Learn more about the ways to give to CASA as a means to help us support and protect the rights of our county’s most volunerable children and to give them the nurturing and stability that they deserve. Please visit casaoc.org to learn more.

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