13th annual ‘Evening Under the Oaks’ breaks records

One parent of an Oak Grove student shared the story of her challenges on the journey to find a place for her son that would meet his special needs. She is overjoyed with the program and success at Oak Grove and heartily recommends it to others. Paul Bandong photo
One parent of an Oak Grove student shared the story of her challenges on the journey to find a place for her son that would meet his special needs. She is overjoyed with the program and success at Oak Grove and heartily recommends it to others. Paul Bandong photo

Oak Grove Center’s 13th annual gala and auction event “Evening Under the Oaks” was a record-breaking success. Attendance was up to 560 guests, food consumption was at an all-time high, and fundraising topped $77,700.

“We are so grateful for the continuing support and generosity of our sponsors and the community,” Tammy Wilson, CEO of Oak Grove Center, said. “It makes a huge difference in our ability to fulfill our mission of caring for at-risk and special needs youth and their families.”

Presenting Sponsor for this year’s event was Temecula Valley Toyota. Chairman’s Circle members were Der Manouel Insurance and Pacific Western Bank. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management was Golden Oak Sponsor for the event. Pechanga Resort & Casino, FDC Commercial Construction and the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians were Willow Oak Sponsors.

The evening opened with a reception and silent auction. Appetizers, including an amazing tomato bisque, were provided by the center’s chef Michael Simpson. Wine was provided by Ponte Winery, and Ballast Point provided the beer.

The national anthem was performed by the “Oak Grove Ensemble” led by Stacey Dove. Oak Grove’s performance team, led by Gwyn Sanborn, wowed the crowd as they performed to the song “Rise.”

Dinner – a veritable smorgasbord of flavors from traditional Mexican fare to sushi to bangers & mash, pizza and more – was provided by chef Rosie O’Connor and Provecho Grill, Broken Yolk, chef Xiomara Hall and Tropical BBQ, Pala Casino & Resort, Shamrock Foods, Baron’s Marketplace, Shamrock Irish Pub, Smokey Mountain Catering, La Cocina Bar & Grill, Domino’s and Cruz Tacos. Delectable desserts were created by Robin’s Nest, Temecula Sweets, H&R Block, Sprouts and Valle D’Brume. Maui Wowi served its special blends of Molokai and Kona coffees.

The Oak Grove Center student performances of “Phantom of the Opera” and “Michael Jackson Dance Tribute,” led by choreographer Kimmie Morrow, drew standing ovations. Morrow’s contract for next year was immediately supported by two donors.

The live auction, led by professional fundraising auctioneer Darren Deiss, drew spirited participation. Live auction items included a Long Beach sailing cruise for six, South African safari for two, Lake Arrowhead retreat for four nights, a surprise-filled Michael Kors purse, exotic destination package with a choice of Costa Rica, Punta Cana, Puerto Vallarta or Jamaica, Casa Turo vacation home, Temecula/Grapeline vineyard tour, Mission Bay yacht cruise for 10, a Murrieta Police Department SWAT training experience, a custom-made Oak Grove necklace by LaMasters Fine Jewelry, eight-day trip to Maui, a 65-inch Samsung high-definition TV provided by first-time donor Geeks Store of Temecula and of course the perennial custom Oak Grove oil painting by Danae-Wilson-Fisher.

The funds raised to support the many Oak Grove Center arts, education and recreation programs including summer autism camp, baseball camp and the building of the baseball field. Donations are always welcome.

The Oak Grove Center for Education, Treatment & the Arts was founded in 1989. Its residential treatment center is a 24-hour therapeutic program; they have two nonpublic school campuses in Murrieta and Oak Grove at the Ranch in Perris. They “provide special, customized education and therapeutic care to 145 day students with chronic and severe social, emotional, behavioral and academic challenges, including autism.” Oak Grove Center also provides wraparound services to 150 families throughout southwest Riverside County. Their THRIVE Independent Living Program serves 250 foster youth.

The evening concluded with personal stories and testimonials of students, alumni and families on the vital supporting, empowering and inspiring role that the center has played in their lives as well as the announcement of scholarship winners by the Temecula Sunrise Rotary Club.

Upcoming events include the 15th annual Oak Grove Golf Classic, the 10th annual So Cal Chef Open Sept. 11 and the 2017 Murrieta Rod Run Oct. 13-14. For more information on tickets, participation, donations and sponsorships, visit www.oakgrovecenter.org.

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