united way of the desert

United Way’s 27th Annual VIP Gala presents “Paris en Rouge”, May 12, 2017

Susan Stein Social Scene

united way of the desert
(From left) Lynne Stephenson, Jacob Koetsier, Eevet Eden, Jeff Hocker, Kristal Granados and Christiane Joubert enjoy the event.

United Way of the Desert raised more than $150,000 for its Impact Fund at its annual VIP gala at The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage. The funds will serve the organization’s mission to break the cycle of poverty in the Coachella Valley as part of United Way of the Desert’s 70-plus year commitment to the desert.

Local philanthropist Harold Matzner underwrote this year’s 27th annual event and his generosity allowed guests to enjoy the evening’s theme, “Paris en Rouge.”

Nearly 300 invitees enjoyed signature rouge martinis and, later, shopped abundant choices in a silent auction. An exquisite French-inspired dinner included frisée salad, coq au vin, and a pale-rouge vanilla mousse. Of course, decadent French wines flowed throughout the evening.

The black-tie-optional dress code allowed men to be creative with tuxedos, while women looked ravishing in the evening’s suggested colors: red, black, and gold.

Jack Fitzgerald, president emeritus of United Way of the Desert, presented a touching tribute to honor the late John J. Benoit, a member of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors from 2009–2016, for his dedication to United Way of the Desert as well as many other community organizations. The inaugural John J. Benoit Community Hero Award was presented to Benoit’s wife, Sheryl.

The Sensation Show Band played soft jazz during dinner and amped up the rhythm after the auction to lure guests onto the dance floor.

Kristal Granados, United Way’s executive director, noted, “Thousands of individuals support our workplace campaign to address the needs of our residents. The gala is our time to reaffirm the power of our collective impact.”

Event sponsors included El Paseo Jewelers, Bank of America, Jessup Auto Plaza, and Renova Solar.

The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage
68900 Frank Sinatra Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

Photography by Dimitri Halkidis

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