Imagine LA, the local non-profit helping to break the cycle of homelessness through mentoring and other social services, honored tennis great Serena Williams at the their 5th annual fundraiser last month. It was a star studded event with comedians Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock and Good Day LA Host Rita Garcia running the live auction that raised over $390,000 for the organization. Guests were treated to a featured performance by Michelle Williams, and an impromptu surprise act by Busta Rhymes.
Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams happily accepted the Imagine LA Empowering Families Award on behalf of her sister, Yetunde Price and her sister’s namesake charity, the Yetunde Price Resource Center (YPRC), and gave a heartfelt speech thanking Imagine LA. YPRC collaborates with partner organizations to offer trauma-informed programs that promote individual and community-wide healing and resiliency. The Center, a leader in the Compton community and beyond, has been partnering with Imagine LA as Imagine LA grows its program in South Los Angeles.
In honoring Serena Williams, Imagine LA’s CEO Jill Bauman said, “Serena is an inspiration to so many women, girls – people of all ages, races and ethnicities across the world. First as a girl growing up in Compton, then a woman widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes alive. Now a mother, her focus, determination and compassion have broken through countless barriers. Every step of the way, her style, integrity, tenacity and unparalleled dedication to her sport and to the values she holds dear have inspired us to face our fears and meet our challenges.”
Imagine LA program graduate Jalila presented the award. Previously, she told attendees her story of transitioning from living in two different shelters with her young daughter to thriving with permanent housing, a full-time job, her daughter starting kindergarten, saving, utilizing community resources, and gaining confidence, all with the help and support of her mentor team and Imagine LA’s professional guidance at Imagine LA.
Guests participated in a live auction by Charity Angels, and donated funds to sponsor families enrolled in Imagine LA’s program. Attendees enjoyed beverages provided by Absolut Vodka & Virginia Black, with tray passed bites by STK with Beyond Meats. The event was produced by h.wood Group’s John Terzian and Val Vogt. Event Co-Chairs were Alex Nicolaou, Barbara Bouza, David Goodenough, Dana Kiesel, George R. Phillips Jr., Kenny Hamilton, Randall Kaplan and Teddy Kapur.
There were lots of local celebrities too, supporters of the Imagine LA and board members who gave generously to support Imagine LA’s programs to break the cycle of family homelessness and poverty in Los Angeles through the power of mentoring. Imagine LA is always looking for volunteer mentors — to sign up, to donate, or for more information, visit http://www.imaginela.org.
Photos by Bill Devlin unless noted otherwise.