SF: Inside The Home Away From Home Gala

Lois Moore, Lillian Phan, Sallie Huntting, Anette Harris
Lois Moore, Lillian Phan, Sallie Huntting, Anette Harris

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Philanthropists recently assembled at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco for the sold out Home Away From Home Gala benefiting the Ronald McDonald House San Francisco. The gala celebrated the opening of the second San Francisco-based Ronald McDonald House inside UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay. The signature event raised $280,000 for support of the renovations of the 26-year old Ronald McDonald House on Scott Street and the expansion of in-hospital programs to more families in need.

Chaired by Lillian Phan, the spectacular evening of cocktails, a sumptuous seated dinner, live and silent auction, and dancing to Pride & Joy was a celebration of the recently completed “Hearts & Hands” five-year fundraising campaign. The campaign exceeded the goal of $8.2 million more than four months ahead of the December deadline. The milestone marks the charity’s most successful fundraising campaign to date.

The program launched in 2010 with a comprehensive aim to triple the number of families served by Ronald McDonald House Charities. Since that time, Ronald McDonald House San Francisco has built a second House inside UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay, which opened to families with critically ill children in February 2015.

“I am honored to chair this special event that celebrates the record-breaking success of the Hearts & Hands campaign,” Phan said. “In addition, the funds raised tonight will aid in the expansion of programs and support on-going renovations.”

During the dinner program, Master of Ceremonies Cheryl Jennings of KGO-TV interviewed a special guest family including Letitia and Nick Soldan with their daughter Bella. In July 2015 the Soldan’s infant son Benjamin, a child born prematurely with brain injury due to lack of oxygen, was air-lifted to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Mission Bay. While Benjamin received critical medical attention, his parents and sister stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. They shared their touching story about their time spent at the Ronald McDonald House and how it gave them support and a sense of “home.”

The pinnacle of the evening was a tribute to the outgoing Ronald McDonald House San Francisco Executive Director Lois Moore. Senator Mark Leno read a proclamation in her honor that praised her 10 years of service and her instrumental work on the development of the Ronald McDonald House at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay. “The families of the Ronald McDonald House are so special and I grew close to many of them in my ten years,” said Moore. “I thank you from my heart for the tribute. The spirit of the Ronald McDonald House means so much to me.”

Also during dinner, charity auctioneer Keith McLane conducted a spirited live auction. One of the highlights was Wilkes Bashford taking the stage to increase the bidding of the lot that included lunch with himself and pal Willie Brown. He pleaded with the audience to bid higher since Willie would blame him for a low bid. In the end, Wilkes got his high bids and generously doubled the lot!

Campaign sponsors included the Koret Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation. The 2015 Home Away From Home Gala committee included Lillian Phan (Gala Chair), Chantal Dominique Anderson, Michelle Ashman, Laurie Brown, Tessa Chen, Cindy Chin, Rheta Cole, Briggs Donaldson, Jason Eriksen, Colette Gallagher, Andy Ivarsson, Anita Jaffe, Elaine Mellis, Erin Odisio, Vanessa Portois, Amanda Schneider, Kate Siegel, Tracy Sprague, Joe Woolley, Aryn Yancher, Liliana Zermeno. The Honorary committee included Anette L. Harris (Honorary Committee Chair), Gail Anderson, Wilkes Bashford, Heide Betz, Senator Barbara Boxer, London Breed, The Honorable Willie L. Brown Jr., Vera Carpeneti, Rheta Cole, Pamela Culp, Pamela and Ted Deikel, Roberta Economidis, Delia Erhlich, Senator Diane Feinstein, Drs. Deanna and Harvey T. Freedman, Joanne & Rick Horning, Arlene Inch, Jane Inch, John Konstin, Karen Kubin, Jennifer Kurrie, The Honorable Mayor Ed Lee, Lois Lehrman, State Senator Mark Leno, Dr. Craig and Lynn Lubbuck, Rev. David Pace, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Scott Righthand, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Patricia and Charles Sprincin, Diane B. Wilsey, Bruce and Laurie Woodward.

Photos: Drew Altizer Photography