Las Patronas distributes $300K at reception: ‘Taking Flight’ ball raises $903,000 for grant beneficiaries


Integrated phone systems, computer hardware infrastructure and bed warmers might not sound like exciting things to fund, but for the nine major beneficiaries of the Las Patronas 2017 Jewel Ball, “Taking Flight,” these items are making a life-changing difference to San Diegans in need.

Las Patronas members report that they raised a total of $903,000 during Taking Flight, the organization’s 71st annual fundraiser. More than $300,000 was doled out to major beneficiaries (who received grants of more than $20,000 each) at a Jan. 17 reception at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. The remaining funds will be contributed to Taking Flight’s minor beneficiaries, organizations that requested grants under $20,000. The La Jolla-based women’s philanthropy also gave out its Spirit of Giving award and its second Legacy Grant.

Sherry Macelli, president of Las Patronas, opened the reception. “Today is our favorite and most celebrated day in Las Patronas because today is the culmination of our yearlong fundraising efforts,” she said. “The organizations receiving funds were chosen from a pool of extremely qualified applicants … based on reach and impact within our community and the strength of their mission.”

Chair of the 2017 Jewel Ball, Jorie Fischer, added: “The inspiration for all our collective efforts has always been fueled by the unparalleled service of our remarkable beneficiaries. You lift our community out of the ordinary and give so many San Diegans the opportunity to soar. We are humbled by your service.”

The organizations’ needs and grant amounts include:

  • $34,340 to the Center for Community Solutions (a temporary shelter for those surviving sexual assault and/or stalking) for painting and upgrades to long-term emergency housing and a new storage shed.
  • $29,699 to the International Rescue Committee in San Diego for a used passenger van for refugee assistance programs.
  • $25,847 to the La Jolla Playhouse for loop systems in the three theaters, an upgrade the Playhouse’s assisted listened technology that enable those with hearing aids to enhance their listening experience.
  • $40,000 to the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center (JCC) for a used 84-passenger school bus for transportation to and from the Center and to assist with camp participation.
  • $27,000 to the National Conflict Resolution Center for new computer hardware infrastructure. This system allows for increased operational efficiency, privacy and confidentiality to better provide direct services those in need.
  • $31,250 to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center for a new panel van for educational programs to assist in outreach and off-site programming for students that might not otherwise have access to science.
  • $40,558 to Scripps Mercy Hospital (Foundation) for infant bed warmers for the Maternal & Child Health department.
  • $47,226 to Urban Corps of San Diego County for a new pickup truck for youth education and job-training programs. These trucks transport teams that work to abate graffiti, litter, clear fire hazards and renovate affordable housing. Urban Corp has five crews for all nine City Council districts, but San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer would like there to be nine.
  • $30,000 to Voices for Children for an integrated phone system for their offices. Last year, the phone system went down three times, and foster children trying to call in were impacted.

Spirit of Giving

Past president Leigh Plesniak presented the Spirit of Giving Award to architect Mark Lyon. Noting the sheer magnitude of design required to transform the Beach & Tennis Club into a ball representing the annually-changing theme, she said: “This year’s awardee has quietly provided a key service to the planning, design and execution of the Jewel Ball for over 10 years.

“We are very fortunate that Mark works with the Jewel Ball design committee to translate the creative vision into workable blueprints. These blueprints are critical to make sure each year’s theme comes to life flawlessly.”

Yet, she added they have to “put a full court press on him to put his company name on the blueprints.” Lyons is a Las Patron (husband to Las Patronas member Tracy Lyons).

Legacy Grant

The second Legacy Grant, collected from Legacy Society members who have included the Las Patronas Endowment Fund in their planned giving, went to Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) San Diego. The $3,832 will help the organization purchase 10 laptops to assist in tax preparation services.

“A question that comes up often is why a youth organization has a tax assistance program?” said SAY San Diego CEO Nancy Gannon Hornberger. “When we see youth struggling because they do not have school supplies, their shoes don’t fit or they have a dental need that goes unattended, we ask how we can enrich them by empowering their families. For 20 years, we’ve been part of an Earned Income Tax Credit collaborative that provides tax assistance to families that are trying to make ends meet. They are working hard and that $25 or $50 extra a month could mean another bag of groceries or school supplies.

“These 10 laptops help us come into the modern era to work with more families go where people live. Last year, we reached 1,000 families, and this year, we expect to reach many hundreds more.”

IF YOU GO: The 2018 Jewel Ball is themed, “Viva la Vida!” and set for Aug. 4 at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. Find more details at