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Caritas Gala:

The Irene Dunne Guild, a longtime support group of Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, hosted the 2008 Caritas Gala, honoring screen and stage actress Rhonda Fleming Carlson, and Foundation Trustee Jerry B. Epstein and his wife Pat at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.  Guild members Catherine Corlin and Judy Piro co-chaired. 

The Caritas Gala is co-hosted each year by the Irene Dunne Guild, in partnership with Saint John’s Health Center Foundation, to honor individuals who exemplify dedication and commitment to the community, and embody the philosophy and mission of Saint John’s.

Nearly 600 guests were treated to the sounds of the Doo-Wop Allstars singing a cappella patriotic anthems as they entered the ballroom. The event closed with attendees dancing well into the evening to standards performed by a 14-piece orchestra.

The 2008 Caritas Award was presented to Ms. Carlson in recognition of her lifetime achievements as a star of stage and screen, humanitarian, and devoted friend of Saint John’s.  Fleming Carlson has been a patron and spokesperson for Saint John’s since the late 1980s, serving on several Foundation Committees, and generously donating her time, talent and resources. Ms. Carlson has dedicated her life to helping others who are less fortunate – her many philanthropic endeavors include being an Ambassador of Childhelp USA, a supporter of the Olive Crest Treatment Centers for Abused Children, a lifetime member of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, and a founding member of the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation. Her philanthropic spirit will be forever reflected in the beautiful Rhonda Fleming Garden at Saint John’s.

Foundation Trustee Jerry B. Epstein and his wife Pat were honored with the Spirit of Saint John’s Award for their contributions and dedication to Saint John’s.  Mr. Epstein has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1975 and served as Chairman in 2006 and 2007.  He has actively participated in numerous hospital and Foundation initiatives.  His commitment to Saint John’s is matched by his wife and 60-year-long partner, Pat, one of the founding members of the Irene Dunne Guild.

Proceeds from the gala benefit vital programs and services at the Health Center.  The Guild has supported Saint John’s since 1987 through a wide variety of volunteer programs and services.  The Guild was named after the late actress/singer Irene Dunne, who is considered the “First Lady” of Saint John’s.Previous Caritas Award celebrity honorees include Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver, Anthony Hopkins, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Vin Scully, Robert Wagner, Angela Lansbury, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, and Jimmy Stewart.

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