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Daily Pilot

The Crowd: From Hollywood to the real hunger games

By B.W. Cook

9:01 PM PDT, June 12, 2014

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She was a rising star in the glamorous Hollywood era of the 1950s and '60s. Today, she is a major star supporting Share Our Selves (SOS), the Costa Mesa-based community resource assisting the most vulnerable populations in affluent Orange County.

Her name is Kathy Thompson, married for more than 50 years to Corona del Mar's Gerry Thompson, the mother of two grown children and a mainstay of assistance for low-income and homeless individuals and families needing a second, third and fourth chance in life. In 1994, Thompson and a small group of dedicated locals founded two auxiliary organizations known as the A and Star Teams, dedicated to raising funds in support of SOS.

Recently in Corona del Mar, the core group of donors gathered for the 20th anniversary luncheon known as the Star Team Onion Luncheon, held at the iconic Five Crowns Restaurant on East Coast Highway. It all began two decades ago with some 30 guests and a 75-pound mound of onions distributed at the original luncheon. In 2014, close to 100 guests came together to share up to 1,000 pounds of Imperial Valley onions and mark the anniversary celebration with the announcement that the A and Star Teams have raised more than $800,000 for SOS.

Thompson, attired in a summer yellow and black luncheon ensemble, welcomed friends and associates including Pilar Wayne, Janet Curci, Carol and Henry Schielein, Mike Russell (who served as volunteer auctioneer), Father Kerry Beaulieu, Margaret Nord, Esther Behnam, Ann Anderson, Marilyn Thompson, Catherine and Jim Emmi, Jane and Richard Taylor, Jean Forbath, Mary Ann and George Wentworth, Barbara Tome and Karen McGlinn, founder of SOS.

McGlinn shared passionate words, speaking directly about how SOS changed the lives of individuals, but perhaps more important changed the lives of volunteers and staff members through the personal interaction on a very basic human level.

"The clients we serve are people just like you and I who want to be looked in the eye and treated with respect on a one-on-one basis," McGlinn said. "They are not invisible, forgotten souls; they are as real as all of us sitting here at lunch today."

SOS was founded in Orange County in 1970, and its mission is to assist with medical, dental, financial and daily nutrition services for the underprivileged in Newport-Mesa.

To learn more about SOS, contact Elizabeth Hopkins at (949) 270-2137. To get involved with either the A or Star Teams, call Teri Williams at (714) 960-0534.

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Under the Tuscan stars

The Big Canyon/Spyglass Hill Committee of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County celebrated a 40-year anniversary dinner at Irvine's trendy Prego Ristorante. With a glass of Prosecco in hand, society President Barbara Steinberg welcomed members to the Italian-themed evening joined by Prego's owners Tony and Ruth Bedi.

Harriet Selna and Robynn Mallory, dedicated Philharmonic Society members, chaired the auction helping to bring in significant funds for music education programs that the Philharmonic Society offers at no charge to Orange County public and private schools.

Retiring Philharmonic boss Dean Corey and his wife Kaly were in the crowd for one of their last appearances in Orange County before moving later this summer to the south of France. Since its inception in 1958, the Philharmonic Society has served more than 2 million Orange County children through its extensive youth music education programs.

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Summer Food and Wine

The 2014 Summer Food and Wine Event at South Coast Plaza sold out, with more than 300 guests attending the celebration at the Charlie Palmer restaurant. A substantial $70,000 was raised, benefiting the Second Harvest Food Bank with the cost of the event entirely underwritten by South Coast Plaza. Major sponsors in support of Second Harvest also included Wendy and Rick Aversano, West Anaheim Medical Center, Sparks & Associates, South Bay Abrams and Union Bank.

Wines from the Napa and Sonoma valleys and the Central Coast of California, as well as from Italy, France and Australia, were paired with special dishes created by the Charlie Palmer kitchen under the direction of Executive Chef Seakyeong Kim. The event is passionately supported by founder Anton Segerstrom and his wife Jennifer joined in the crowd by Second Harvest CEO Nicole Syndum, Irene Martino, Lauren Wong, Lourdes Nark, Christina Ferguson and Bloomingdale's General Manager Jim Murphy.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.