What began eight years ago as a small charity event in designer John Varvatos’ West Hollywood boutique has now become an event so well attended and funded that the entire city block at Melrose Avenue and Robertson is shut down for a street party of more than 1,500 supporters, partygoers, and of course, celebrities.
This year’s event co-chairs Patrick “McDreamy” Dempsey and his wife Jillian, brought out much of the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy,” including Jesse Williams, Justin Chambers, Kevin McKidd and Daniel Sunjata. Their set visit live auction package went for $4000.
The John Varvatos Stuart House Benefit is one of the biggest fundraising events of the year for the Rape Treatment Center at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, which has served as a national model for the care and treatment of rape victims since 1974. The annual event is critical to the upkeep of the RTC’s treatment, education, prevention programs, counseling, medical care, victim services, and more at Stuart House, a safe haven for sexually abused children.
At the helm of the organization, which is largely run by volunteers willing to donate hours and hours of time each week, is Gail Abarbanel. Recognized for her pioneering work with the RTC, Gail has been the driving force behind efforts to change the way rape and other sexual crimes are viewed in society and how victims are treated by law-enforcement officials, medical personnel and the judicial system.
“It upsets you physically to hear these children’s stories,” said Dempsey. “It’s so important to raise awareness, to make sure children know there is a place they can turn…what you do everyday (at Stuart House) is incredibly challenging emotionally and physically. You should feel proud that you are making a difference.”
On a beautiful Sunday, guests enjoyed food, drinks, live music from k.d. lang and The Siss Boom Bang with Franky Perez opening, and a silent and live auction. The silent auction featured a high-tech computerized bidding system where bidders could place bids and check item status from anywhere within the auction tent. The live auction was co-hosted by Bill Bellamy. Food was provided by Firenze Osteria, Magnolia Bakery, Diddy Reise, Cuties and Jackie’s Bakery, In-N-Out Burger, Hot Dog On A Stick and Green Truck. There was also a separate children’s tent featuring an abundance of activities and entertainment.
Other guests included David Schwimmer, Billy Idol, LL Cool J, Omar Epps, Melina Kanakaredes, Brooke Burke, Jayma Mays of “Glee,” J.K. Simmons of “The Closer,” KaDee Strickland of “Private Practice,” and Gina Gershon.
With tickets selling for $200 each and top live auction items going for as much as $16,000 (for a VIP travel package to New York City, including business class airfare, first-class accommodation and transportation, Broadway show tickets, jewelry, dinner, VIP table service at a top nightclub, and a $10K Varvatos wardrobe) organizers said event proceeds topped $500,000. For a full list of the event host committee, click here.
***Lindsay Taub is an LA-based writer/producer/media strategist with a passion for travel, photography, nature, adventure, and wine. She resides in LA with her pups and is the managing editor of The Pacific Punch. Follow her on twitter @lindsaytaub58 and @ThePacificPunch. Learn more at www.lindsaytaub.com. Email email@example.com***
Lindsay Taub is an LA-based writer/editor who covers travel, lifestyle, culture, music/arts, food, wellness, and more. She calls Los Angeles home when she's there, but prefers to leave the city for the mountains and open spaces as often as possible. She loves cooking, gardening, live music, hiking with her three rescue dogs, and rustic luxury. Follow her on instagram/twitter @lindsaytaub and follow the Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at www.lindsaytaub.com and www.voyagevixens.com .***