By Ashley Mackin
Las Patronas, a philanthropic organization that raises money for local nonprofits, welcomed a new “class” of volunteers at a luncheon Oct. 17, 2012 at the La Jolla Country Club.
The 10 new members join the ranks of women who have been raising money for San Diego since 1946. They are: Christine Baumberger, Marie Browning, Michelle Conway, June Fabiani, Jorie Fischer, Gay Grossman, Randi Hegler, Kelly Kent, Clarissa Myer Keyes and Erin Preuss.
Since there are 10 of them, the group has named themselves “The Ten-der Hearts,” and will serve for a mandatory six years and an optional seventh.
The group’s grand fundraiser, the Jewel Ball, held each August, brings in thousands of dollars to be distributed to non-profits. Last year’s Ball, themed Passeggiata!, raised just under $765,000.
“(Over the years) Las Patronas members are proud to have given more than $16 million to more than 1,000 San Diego County organizations that provide critically needed community services,“ said Las Patronas President Pat Marsch. “These additional proceeds from Passeggiata! will make a substantial difference in the quality of life of many individuals throughout San Diego County.”
At the luncheon, the 2013 Jewel Ball theme, Lucky 13, was announced. The catchphrase is “Changing Views, Changing Lives.”
One of the 135 women in attendance was Jo Bobbie MacConnell, one of the two surviving founding members. MacConnell said when she helped found Las Patronas, the goal was “to have good parties and find good beneficiaries.” Of the organization now, she said it’s grown bigger, but still feels “friendly.” She added, “And they still give good parties.”
Also in attendance was the first, third-generation member. Jorie Fischer joins her mother, Sarah Burton-Hawkins. Fischer’s grandmother helped found the organization with MacConnell, as the two were best friends. Burton-Hawkins refers to MacConnell as her “fairy godmother.”
This year, 99 organizations applied to Las Patronas for grants. Recipients will be notified of their awards on Nov. 6.