Havana Night

Fifty-nine charities selected for funding by The Country Friends were celebrated at “Havana Night,” the 2nd Annual “Giving Hearts” Dinner & Dance at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. This year’s festivities featured Cuban-themed entertainment, a Latin-inspired menu, and salsa dancing. Lauren Reynolds and Luis Carranza co-chaired the event which was emceed by 10 News anchor Steve Atkinson.

The annual gala honors charities chosen by The Country Friends Board of Directors for funding after careful vetting through extensive site visits, interviews, and questionnaires. “Our ‘Giving Hearts’ gala is a Valentine to the many charitable organizations helping thousands of San Diegans,” says Suzanne Newman, president of The Country Friends. “These agencies are at the very heart of our community, and our grants totaling more than $200,000 this year will enable them to continue to serve people in need.”

Event sponsors included Annterese Toth and Jennifer Perkinson of Merrill Lynch, Les and Deborah Cross (The Country Friends’ immediate past president and now first vice president), Karen and Duncan Wallace, and At Home Nursing Care, founded by event Co-Chair Lauren Reynolds. Proceeds from the evening benefited The Country Friends Legacy Campaign to ensure giving for many years to come.

“As chair of the Legacy Campaign I am pleased to announce that we are at 20 percent of our goal of raising $1 million which will pay off our construction loan on The Country Friends Consignment Shop and create an Endowment Fund to maintain our beautiful building,” says Les Cross. “By accomplishing this goal we will be able to increase our annual grants to San Diego based charities significantly.”

The evening began with Champagne, tray-passed hors d’oeuvres, and a photo lounge from Pro Motion Entertainment, followed by a three-course dinner with fine wines. Highlight of “Havana Night” were lively performances by Omo Aché, an organization dedicated to presenting, preserving, and promoting Cuba’s rich cultural heritage through dance and music performances, classes, and events. The San Diego-based company was founded by Havana’s Master Afro-Cuban Artist Juan Carlos Blanco in 1998. Adding to the festivities was an exhibit by D’Marco, a photographer who captures day-to-day life in Cuba and a glimpse into its history. Centerpieces were designed by Dawna Hollingsworth Designs with décor by Tamara Lafarga-Joseph.The event concluded with dessert and lively salsa dancing on the Sunset Terrace with DJ Brandon Watterson.

An opportunity drawing featured such prizes as a two-night stay at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club with a $200 gift certificate to The Marine Room, a one-night stay at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe and breakfast for two at Morada Restaurant, rounds of golf at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club and Shadowridge Golf Club, a bourbon-and-cigar package, a large tote and $1,000 gift certificate from Max Mara South Coast Plaza, four tickets to the 2019 Taste of Rancho Santa Fe, and more.

Agencies selected for funding this year include: A Step Beyond, Alzheimers San Diego, Assistance League, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad, Boys to Men, Casa de Amparo, Center for Community Solutions, Champions for Health, Community Campership Council, Community Resource Center, ConnectMed International, Doors of Change, Elderhelp, Elizabeth Hospice, Friends of Vista Hill, Generate Hope, Girls Rising, Helen Woodward Animal Center, Hospice of the North Coast, Include Autism, Jacobs & Cushman SD Food Bank, Kids Turn, Kitchens for Good, Lightbridge Hospice, Mana de San Diego, Meals on Wheels of La Jolla, Miracle Babies, Mitchell Thorpe Foundation, Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center, Operation Hope Vista, Options for All, Palomar Family Counseling, Palomar Health Foundation, Reading Legacies, Reality Changers, REINS, Rite Care San Diego, San Diego Blood Bank, San Diego Brain Injury Foundation, San Diego Burn Institute, Saving Horses, Say San Diego, SD Center for the Blind, Serving Seniors, Solutions for Change, Special Delivery, Special Olympics, Support the Enlisted Project, Tender Loving Canines, The Brother Benno’s Foundation, Think Dignity, UCSD EyeMobile for Children, USO Council on San Diego, Walden Family Services, Warriors Live On, Women’s Resource Center, YMCA Armed Services, YWCA of San Diego.

For more information about the event, please contact The Country Friends at (858)756-1192 Ext. 4, or [email protected].

Photography by Bob Stefanko