Children's Institute Cape & Gown Gala Raises Close to $1 Million for Organization

November 19, 2018
Maggie Moe

On Wednesday night, Children’s Institute welcomed 400 guests to the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica to honor Beth & Bob Lowe and Frank, Berta and Sam Gehry at the first ever Cape & Gown Gala, which raised close to $1 Million for Children’s Institute’s programs.

Beth and Bob Lowe were recognized for their lifetime of dedicated service to children and families in Los Angeles’ most underserved communities. The Gehry family was honored for their generous pro-bono commitment to design a new 20,000 square foot campus in Watts, where Children’s Institute has operated programs on a two-acre campus since 2007.

The latest model of the design was displayed during the gala’s cocktail reception, which featured live music by Sylvia & The Rhythm Boys and a Coolhaus Truck with honoree-themed ice cream sandwiches.

The program kicked off with award-winning actor, singer and writer Daniel Beaty who silenced the audience with a special performance of Knock Knock highlighting the nationally-recognized youth leadership and social justice initiative, I DREAM, that uses performance arts to allow young people to express themselves and begin to heal from trauma. Children’s Institute will launch this powerful new program in partnership with Beaty and LA Partnership Schools in South Los Angeles in the New Year.

The emcee for the evening, actress and comedienne Loni Love, welcomed the audience and introduced CII’s President & CEO Martine Singer who offered a moment of silence for those affected by the nearby Woolsey Fire before discussing CII’s work.

“The common denominator for all the children we see at Children’s Institute is trauma. Prevention, early detection and intervention can literally be life-saving. Our home visitors, preschool teachers and therapists are on the front lines of a war on trauma. And – in keeping with the theme of the evening – they are everyday superheroes, supporting older foster youth to go to college, helping parents to get back to work, strengthening families in crisis or visiting a vulnerable new mother so that her child can grow to be strong and healthy,” said Singer.

One of CII’s program participants, LaRae, attended with three of her children and gave a moving speech about her journey and how CII has made a positive impact on their lives.

“CII has been a part of my journey from contemplating the worst to accomplishing the best. From attending conferences to help me transition back into work, to teaching me how to create a new vision for my life that is centered on purposeful living and stability. They even developed my public speaking skills — how am I doing? CII has helped me with all of it.

All four of my children benefited from CII’s therapeutic programs, teaching us to work together as a family, learning how to build healthy relationships with ourselves, with one another, and also with our community. These life skills got us through the hardest times and they continue to help us today and likely for the rest of our lives.

Today, our family is doing great – and three of my children are here tonight to celebrate CII’s work with all of you,” LaRae said.

Next up, auctioneer Billy Harris quickly got the room pulling out their checkbooks and credit cards to bid on auction packages that ranged from a week-long stay for 16 people in Jamaica to sailing on the Frank Gehry-designed yacht FOGGY. Loni Love surprised the room by placing the winning bid on a VIP dining experience at Wolfgang Puck’s Test Kitchen in West Hollywood. Billy Harris called out to Wolfgang Puck in the audience asking for additional packages to offer the eager crowd and quickly sold two more.

After dinner, Lt Emada Tingirides, LAPD and CII Board Member, introduced the Gehry family by saying:

“My husband and I both grew up in South LA, and we both spent many years working in and around the neighborhood of Watts. It’s a place with a very strong sense of community, with more children per square inch than any other part of Los Angles, and sadly — with an outsized share of tragedy and trauma. Many promises have been made to the citizens of Watts over the years – and many turned out to be just that – promises and nothing else. But the Gehry family are different. They have put in the time to hear the hopes and dreams of Watts residents – and understand the incredible resiliency of the families who call that area of South LA “home.” Frank and Sam made promises that they intend to keep.”

Former LA County Board of Supervisors Member Don Knabe introduced Beth & Bob Lowe: “Through all of their philanthropic giving, of both time and treasure, they have raised and nurtured a loving and giving family. Whether it is their own family, or pre-school families, or YMCA families, or CII families — they have helped raise millions of dollars to support programs offered by these organizations. They have touched the lives of thousands of children, many of whom have never met Beth & Bob.”

Beth a Bob Lowe both delivered speeches and Bob closed the program by saying, “Most important, we are so pleased to be supporting Children’s Institute in such a meaningful way. Because of the support each of you has provided this evening, the children and families in our community that are most in need will truly benefit. Thank you form the bottom our hearts.”

Thank you to everyone who generously supported the event and made it a success. For those still interested in making a donation in honor of our Children’s Champion Award recipients, Beth & Bob Lowe and Frank, Berta & Sam Gehry, you can do so here.