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Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024


In the Spirit

On March 4, civic, business and community leaders came together at the 12th annual Spirit of Excellence Gala, hosted by the Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF). The event, which was held at the headquarters of EV maker Karma Automotive in Irvine, raised more than $830,000 to help fund critical programs and classroom support for Irvine Unified School District (IUSD).

This year’s Diamond Sponsors included Experian, FivePoint/Great Park Neighborhoods, and Futek. Other leading corporate sponsors included Gorjana, Montage Laguna Beach, Sun Labs, Total Wine & More and University of California, Irvine. The awards ceremony recognized Futek, an Irvine-based maker of sensing and test-measurement instruments, with the Spirit of Excellence in Philanthropy.

“The success of the 2023 Spirit of Excellence Gala is a testament to the unwavering support the Irvine community has for education,” said Neda Eaton, CEO and president, IPSF. “The funds raised will make an impact in the educational experience of over 36,000 students in our community.”

Perfect Ten

Table for Ten held its 18th annual culinary extravaganza at the Vea Newport Beach, a Marriott Hotel & Spa, on March 5. More than 300 gourmet food and wine lovers attended the sold-out event, with guests enjoying multi-courses tableside from 30 chefs, along with wine pairings.

Table for Ten is a distinctive event. Each table, which seats 10 guests, has its own top Orange County chef and team who creates a unique dining experience, including table décor, menu and drinks, specific to that group. No two tables or table fare are alike.

The evening raised more than $300,000, which supports the Pascal Culinary Scholarship Program, which creates grants for culinary arts students in Orange County. The title sponsor was Mary Murfey, owner and CEO, Corning Advisors and the event was orchestrated by KM Productions.

Participating restaurants and chefs included Andy Arndt, Vea Newport Beach, 2023 Host Chef; Pascal Olhats, event chef scholarship chair; Paul Buchanan, Primal Alchemy, 2023 Honorary Chef; Annie Morgan, Backstage-A-Fare; Prabeen Prathapan, Balboa Bay Resort & Club; Jorge Valines and Amy Lebrun, Bluegold; Scott Renney, CafeEighteen48; Victor Soto, Cannery Seafood of the Pacific; Blake Mellgren, Craft House; Adam Navidi and Troy Hashimoto; Oceans & Earth; Michael Campbell, Pacific Pearl Catering; Ugo Allesina, Prego Restaurant; Peter Moon, Seabutter; Ron Fougeray, Splashes, Surf & Sand Resort; Kyle St. John, The Ranch Laguna Beach; and Yvon Goetz, The Winery Restaurant.

Prior to going inside the Vea ballroom to enjoy dinner, a cocktail and appetizer reception was held on the manicured outside grounds while a guitarist performed live music. The cocktail reception fare was provided and prepared by Orange County chefs and eateries, including Rick Boxeth, Catered Courses & Santa Ana Sweets; Enrique Valenzuela, C’est La Vie; Jose Angula, Descanso Restaurant; Paul Buchanan, Primal Alchemy; Lindsay Smith, Nirvana Grille; and others. Daou, JCB Wines, Hetchy Vodka and Hi-Time Wine Cellars Infinity Sauces were among the reception product sponsors.

The evening also included a silent auction, live auction, fund-a-need and awards. Murfey was honored during the evening for her continued support of Table for Ten and Buchanan was honored by Olhats, whose culinary scholarship program was the recipient of the evening’s proceeds.


The Orange County Community Foundation, in partnership with Sona Shah, founder and CEO, My Private Professor, unveiled on March 9 the recipients of the recently developed Inspired Teacher Grant Program.

The program provides kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, in both public and charter schools, with more than $100,000 to support hands-on classroom projects and field trips that encourage experiential learning, enhance student understanding, and increase student achievement in relation to the California curriculum standards. Thirty projects across 25 schools received the funding, which will support 11 field trips and 19 projects, and serve 5,400 students.

“It’s been such a pleasure working with the incredible team at Orange County Community Foundation to turn this vision into reality,” Shah said. “We are grateful to be able to give our teachers the resources they need to help our students thrive and look forward making this a sustainable program that supports our teachers so they can better support our students.”

Inspired Teacher Grant Program recipients include Cesar E. Chavez High School, Dr. Peter Marshall Elementary School, Hope School, Lexington Junior High, Loara High School, Orange County School of the Arts, Samueli Academy, Santa Ana High School, Santiago High School and Victoria Elementary School.

Bits & Pieces

The Prentice School recently used a $5,000 grant from Burns & McDonnell awarded in 2022 to remodel its science lab to help further develop students’ interest in STEM, was part of the Burns & McDonnell’s $1.2 million STEM Grants Program, which is designed to partner with schools to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders in communities across the country where its employee-owners live and work.

Goodwill of Orange County has been awarded $22,000 from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to support its Assistive Technology Exchange Center (ATEC), which will directly support the work being doing by Goodwill’s ATEC program, a comprehensive assistive technology program that provides a variety of services, including assessment and training; consultation; technical support; and equipment installation, delivery, and repair, to enable individuals to increase their independence at school, home, or in the workplace.

The OCSC Community Foundation (OCSCCF) Inaugural Gala, held on Feb. 23 at the Hilton Irvine and sponsored by Cheval Winery, Glenfiddich, Brewery X, ImpEx Beverages and Aston Martin, raised $30,000 to help fund the organization’s soccer-for-all programs, which provide free after-school soccer programming to youth in underserved communities across Orange County.

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