Gentlemen with a Cause brings an evening at Monte Carlo

Soroptimists members Karen Llich and Karen Spencer play Blackjack during the Soroptimists International of Valencia's Gentleman for Cause. Jose Herrera/The Signal
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You could roll the dice, pick up your cards or spin the wheel of fortune and luck might have been on your side as Santa Clarita Valley residents enjoyed an evening in Monte Carlo for the 12th annual Gentlemen for a Cause. 

The Soroptimists International of Valencia welcomed guests for some fun at a “casino” in a fundraiser for the empowerment of women at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Valencia. More than 200 guests came and dressed for an evening in Monte Carlo. 

“We host this every year,” said Stephanie Sewell, president of Soroptimist Internation of Valencia. “We have event chairs that go through the process of looking for locations and vendors, etc. They landed on Embassy Suites and they’ve been a really great partner.”  

“We haven’t seen a casino night in a while around town, so it’s something different that we can all get excited about.” 

Soroptimist International is a global women’s organization whose members volunteer to improve the lives of women and girls through programs, according to Laura Chesler, incoming president of the group. 

“Scientifically, it’s been proven that women do better when they’re empowered. We do that through education. And there are so many women and girls who kind of slide through the cracks as they go through life,” Chesler said. “Through our ‘Dream It, Be It’ and ‘Live Your Dream’ programs, we kind of help find those women and lift them up.”  

Soroptimists can offer women and girls financial assistance, advice and support to try to find their way and make their lives better, and in turn also help their families, too, added Chesler. 

John and Stephanie Sewell test their luck at roulette during the Soroptimists International of Valencia’s Gentlemen for a Cause. Jose Herrera/The Signal

Gentlemen for a Cause is a way for gentlemen in the community, who are business owners, to donate their services, Sewell said. The soroptimists partnered with Single Mothers Outreach and Child & Family Center for the event, too. 

In previous years, the organization has raised approximately $20,000 from each Gentlemen for a Cause, according to Sewell. The goal is to exceed what they’ve raised in the past, added Sewell. 

Dennis Sugasawara, owner of DS Financial Solutions and a partner in Anger Mgmt Tequila, said he was asked to participate in the event, and he jumped right in.  

“I’ve never been asked to do anything like this, and I thought it would be fun,” Sugasawara said. “I didn’t know anything about it [the organization], but I learned very fast.” 

Sugasawara said he volunteers for different organizations when he can such as the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Clarita Valley, where he’s a member of the board. It’s important for him to give back to his community, he added. 

“When I was in entertainment all I did was focus on entertainment. I never concerned myself with the community or who was moving [the community] forward,” Sugasawara said. “Suddenly, when I started working in sales, which I had never done before, I realized that in order to connect with everybody, I need to go out there in the community.” 

Chesler said the evening was a success thanks to the event chairs Christy Alben, Debbie Kilen, Chrissy Rescigno, Kathy Rutherford, Anita Smith and Mary Clare Smithson. 

“I think our valley was ready because everyone’s been so cooped up and it’s fun to get out and gamble without having to drive all the way to Vegas,” Chesler said.  

Cindy Miller and Olga Campbell enjoy an evening in Monte Carlo during the Soroptimists International of Valencia’s Gentlemen for a Cause. Jose Herrera/The Signal

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