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Volume 6, Issue 47  | June 11, 2021


Human Options raises more than $426,000 during Serious Fun Gala

Human Options, an Orange County-based nonprofit dedicated to ending the cycle of relationship violence, hosted its virtual 2021 Serious Fun Gala on May 22. The event brought together more than 200 influential community leaders for “A Whimsical Evening in the Enchanted Forest” as they helped raise more than $426,000 in critical funds for Human Options’ life-changing services and programs that ensure every person and family in Orange County experiences safe and healthy relationships, free from fear. All funds raised will go toward Human Options’ various programs, including its emergency shelter, crisis hotline, transitional housing program, counseling, legal advocacy, children’s therapy, elder abuse prevention and prevention education programs in the community.

During the event, Human Options honored Michele Khoury, a resident of Newport Coast, who has served on the Human Options board for nine years and has supported the organization for nearly 20 years, and Abdo Khoury, a retired chief financial officer, who served on the finance committee for several years, with the 2021 DOVE Award for their long-standing commitment to advocating for those affected by relationship violence. As longtime supporters and donors, Michele and Abdo have made a significant impact at Human Options and in the community, helping to shape the organization and expand its services, while also serving as a beacon of light to those in need.

Human Options Khourys

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(L-R) Maricela Rios-Faust, Human Options CEO; Abdo and Michele Khoury, 2021 DOVE Award recipients; and Celina Doka

“As we continue to advocate for those affected by abuse and to educate our community in recognizing relationship violence as an issue that threatens everyone, we depend on the commitment of supporters like Michele and Abdo to further our vision of a future in which every person and family in Orange County experiences safe, healthy relationships and lives free from fear,” said Maricela Rios-Faust, chief executive officer. “Our mission of ending the cycle of domestic violence resonated with Michele, a supporter of Human Options for almost two decades. She is also an author who just finished writing her newest fiction book which sheds a light on the cycle of abuse that happens all too often behind closed doors. As we work to move the community toward collective change, we’re grateful we could recognize Michele and Abdo for supporting our cause.”

At the virtual 2021 Serious Fun Gala, guests were transported to “A Whimsical Evening in the Enchanted Forest,” as they experienced a themed evening from the comfort of their own homes, while raising critical funds for Human Options’ life-changing programs. Festivities kicked off with hosted cocktails that were sent ahead to participants, a silent auction, including a private dinner for eight with Chef Marco Zapien and Sommelier Mario Matevesco, donated by Black Tie & Blue Jeans Creative Catering. The night continued with Michele Khoury sharing her incredibly moving story when she accepted her DOVE award, and there was an exciting live auction for attendees. Auctioned items included a private flight to Santa Barbara for a luxurious weekend of wine tasting, an exciting escape to Los Cabos with Hilton Grand Vacations, a tropical getaway to Waikiki with Hilton Grand Vacations and more. 

The funds raised at this year’s event are more important than ever as rates of relationship violence have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. With stay-at-home mandates, financial stress of unemployment, school closures and more – victims have been separated from the people and resources they need most. A recent study shows domestic violence incidents spiked more than 8 percent nationwide following the lockdown orders, which were intended to help curb the spread of the virus, according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice.

Last year, Human Options reached more than 8,000 community members through education and prevention, provided nearly 500 individuals and families with a safe home through the emergency shelter and transitional housing program, served more than 1,400 individuals through community-based programs, and responded to more than 4,800 callers providing immediate crisis support, information and referrals through the 24-hour hotline. 

Gala co-chairs were Andrew Grey, Attorney, Latham & Watkins and Brian Ruttencutter, CFO, BBR Consulting.

Presenting Sponsors included Michele and Abdo Khoury. Gold Sponsors included the Jaffe Family Foundation and Kerri and Danny Sonenshine. Silver Sponsors included KPMG LLP’s Celina Doka and Capital Group’s David and Lisa Hummelberg.

For more information about Human Options, visit www.humanoptions.org.

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