The stars of the Santa Clarita Valley were all dressed for the occasion at the Celebrity Waiter fundraiser for the SCV Senior Center, held Saturday at the Bella Vida Senior Center.
The event, themed “A Night in Hollywood,” was designed as a classy affair, akin to the Oscars. The celebrity guests of the evening were Charlie Chaplin, Marlyn Monroe and Lucille Ball. Well, sort of — but the actors hired to portray them did so quite well, even performing the occasional bits and interacting with guests.
Guests included Mayor Laurene Weste, City Council members Bill Miranda and Marsha McLean, and state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.
Each table was movie-themed — from props on the tables to its guests’ attire. If there was an award for opulent extravagance, that award would most likely go to the Gatsby-themed table, whose guests did not hold back in their formality with their 1920s three-piece suits, tuxedos and flapper dresses.
Reprising his role as master of ceremonies of the fundraiser was Brian Koegle, who said that although it was a hot day, the setting on the patio of Bella Vida hopefully provided a wonderful evening that would raise a lot of money for seniors. As for reprising his role, Koegle said he felt honored.
“I gotta tell you, it’s one of the greatest honors that I have in this town — by virtue of the fact that I’m a little bit of a ham and, you know, I’m an attorney by trade, but that stage was born for me,” said Koegle. “So I have no problem getting up there and making a fool of myself with some of my friends down here in the audience, as I will do tonight. And it’s a great thing, because we get to do such good work here.”
Koegle emphasized that beyond the glamor of the event, what the event was for was the most important part of the fundraiser and the real stars are the ones who volunteer and work for the Senior Center.
“We’ve got more than 250 people here helping out to support, celebrate and recognize our volunteers, recognize our seniors and to help us raise some money for some awesome causes… including the expansion of the Alzheimer’s Day Program here at the Senior Center so that we can serve more people who are in need of those services.”
The fundraiser included a live auction and an online auction in which those who attended could bid for experiences like riding along in a World War II-era AT-6, a hot air balloon adventure, and a hike through the Hollywood hills with Kevin MacDonald, CEO of the Senior Center.
MacDonald said it’s the volunteers and workers who keep the mission-driven center going.
“We’re very mission-driven. Our staff is very into the mission, and that’s what makes it happen. We love what we do here,” said MacDonald.
Adriene Morales, coordinator for the home-delivered meals program — which had helped deliver more than 75,000 meals to seniors in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys — said that a lot of the money raised at the fundraiser will go toward more staffing, vehicles, and of course meals to continue the program. She said her job is rewarding.
“Very rewarding. You know, it’s an opportunity for us to give back, for me to give back,” said Morales. “One of the things that I like to do is be able to speak with our seniors when they call and have conversations with them. They let us know on a daily basis how much they appreciate the meals that they get and how helpful it is.”