Over three hundred people, from children to the elderly, braved the cold Thursday night to attend a fundraiser and gala dinner for Upward Bound House. Inside the Skirball Cultural Center, the atmosphere was warm in support of the Santa Monica charity which houses homeless families and provides the training and support they need to find employment and permanent homes of their own. The evening was all about giving. Knowing that 88,000 men, women and children were sleeping in boxes, doorways and cars in the chilly Los Angeles night, guests, many of them of limited means themselves, filled up the silent auction bidding sheets for goods and services donated by local merchants, artists and small businesses.
Upward Bound Board President Kim Defenderfer opened a series of speeches that accentuated the positive. The charity, he said, had a 96 percent success rate since its inception in 1997, for “graduating”’ hundreds of families into permanent housing and having them remain there. He gratefully acknowledged the private citizens, staff and volunteers who brought about those happy numbers, including local actress June Lockhart, present to support Upward Bound’s efforts.
Richmond, California native Ken Carter, whose lifelong work with kids inspired the movie “Coach Carter,” was guest of honor. Carter promised a speech that he likened to a cheerleader’s skirt – long enough to cover the important points and short enough to hold your interest. With humor and passion he delivered and redirected everyone’s attention to Upward Bound House, the families it serves and the need to keep it financed so the work can continue. His short speech was interrupted by applause several times.
Executive Director Andrew Parker introduced a video short of the families and seniors housed in the unique private facility. Inspired by success to date, and the ongoing critical need, Parker announced the organization’s upcoming acquisition of a motel that will be used to double the number of families Upward Bound can serve.
Wrapping up the evening with a final pitch for funds, actors Bill Fagerbakke and Catherine McClenahan conducted a spirited live auction.