by Katie Reynolds
On Saturday, Aug. 4, 850 guests will gather at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club for the 61st annual Jewel Ball.
The fund-raiser is the culmination of 14 months of planning by members of Las Patronas. A non-profit organization made up of 50 active female members and around 300 advisory members, Las Patronas raises money for various groups in San Diego County. Members of the all-volunteer organization must live in La Jolla and are chosen based on referrals by existing members.
Describing the organization, this year’s Jewel Ball chair, Kathryn Stephens, said, “You meet women you wouldn’t normally come across, it’s nice to see a range, it’s like a sisterhood.”
During their six years of service, the women work tirelessly together year-round fund-raising and planning the Jewel Ball. All of their hard work is well received. Around 1,000 people are invited and the event usually fills within a week of the time the invitations go out.
On the night of the much-anticipated event, guests will gather for cocktails until the traditional call for dinner brings everyone into the ballroom for a dinner catered by the Sheraton and Sami Ladeki of Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Roppongi.
The ballroom is entirely created and decorated by the women in Las Patronas on the tennis courts of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. An artist herself, Stephens picked “ARTRAGEOUS” for the theme of the event.
Specifically, mid-century through contemporary art inspired the entertainment and decoration for the evening. Re-creations of works by modern and contemporary artists including Warhol, Lichtenstein and Dali will line the walls of the ballroom. As a homage to recently deceased artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the women of Las Patronas have created a 10-foot paper-mache lady. Emphasizing the strong feminine sisterhood in Las Patronas, Stephens asked all of the active and advisory members of the group to donate high-end designer evening shoes and created a sculpture out of them for the center of the ballroom.
The entertainment is just as mindful of the art theme, including an action performance painter who will paint with his hands and brushes on a moving canvas to music. NRG, a 26-piece local band, will also be performing dance music on a platform in the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club pool.
A silent auction will include a handmade costume donated by the Old Globe Theatre, behind the scene museum tours, trips, cruises, and even a painting by contemporary artist Gerrit Greve - one of the few live artists published in the book “1,001 Paintings to See Before You Die.” The guests can also purchase tickets to enter the opportunity drawing to win similar prizes.
While the evening will include music, drink, food and festivities, it aims to serve a higher purpose. The event is the primary fund-raiser for Las Patronas, enabling them to give money to non-profit organizations that help the community in areas such as health, education, social services, and cultural arts.
Terry Cooper, president of Las Patronas, summed up their mission saying, “We raise money to make San Diego a better community.”
Over the years, Las Patronas has given $10 million to 1,000 different non-profit organizations. There are between 50 and 100 beneficiaries each year. This year, as in previous years, they expect to raise more than $1 million from the Jewel Ball.
To receive a grant from Las Patronas, San Diego County non-profit organizations must go through a formal application process after meeting specific requirements. Members of Las Patronas then visit all of the organizations to assess their critical needs. After a two-day process, they decide who will receive grants. This is done twice a year - in the fall they take applications for groups that need $20,000 or more, and in the spring they take groups that need less than $20,000.
Their long list of beneficiaries includes Helen Woodward Animal Center, Old Globe Theatre and San Diego Museum of Art.
Las Patronas only funds capital items. For example, the money they gave to Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego was used to buy a ventilator to help infants and children in intensive care units. The Old Globe was able to upgrade the light and sound equipment in its Lowell Davies Festival Theatre through their donation. San Diego Museum of Art used the money to get new storage units that preserve artwork.
The event that raises all of the money quickly approaches. The women in Las Patronas set up the valuable fund-raiser from Wednesday, Aug. 1 until Saturday, Aug. 4. On the day of the ball, they party until 1 a.m., when the band stops playing and the event ends.
The next day they have to have the whole thing cleaned up by noon for tennis lessons, only to begin planning for the following year all over again.
Stephens stressed that the ball is more than a party. “It’s about letting the public know that Las Patronas is a resource for the community,” she said, “These women are really committed and believe in the mission.” For more information on Las Patronas or the Jewel Ball visit the website at www.laspatronas.org.