SOS Entertainment was recently privileged to work with Single Mothers Outreach of Santa Clarita, on its 2nd annual Empowering HeArts Gala, held at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center on Saturday, November 19, 2011. This was the second year that SOS Entertainment was asked to participate in the event, providing a 50″ flat screen LCD television to assist in the presentation of the Honoree’s stories and the visual works created by the Artist’s. Ed Masterson, Sales & Marketing Manager for SOS, served his second stint as Emcee, with this year’s theme entitled, “Breaking Barriers”, and honoring eleven women for their courage and perseverance in becoming successful women in a variety of life-challenging situations. More than 100 guests attended the black-tie event, which offered sparkling wine, hors d’oeuvres and live music from Jose Garcia on guitar accompanied by a keyboardist. The eleven honorees were originally introduced at a reception in September and then paired with local artists and writers to tell their individual stories. This unique event is a celebration of women, art and community, and features the combined creative efforts of Santa Clarita Valley writers and artists who created unique and inspiring works based on the real life stories of the 11 women who embodied this year’s theme.
The artists’ work was reviewed by a panel of industry professionals, who awarded the grand prize to local photographer, Maureen Benoit, for her composite shot of Mitzi Like, CEO, L/B/W Insurance & Financial Services in Santa Clarita. Like was selected for her story detailing the struggles conquered while rising from single mom to CEO of one of the most successful insurance companies in California. Like’s photo was displayed along with the other works, which portrayed honorees in photos, paintings or mixed media to tell their individual stories. “These women are iconic,” said DaAnne Smith, executive director of Single Mothers Outreach. “These 11 women are the role models who set the standard, who define the theme of breaking barriers.” Each of the “Breaking Barriers” nominees proved to be truly amazing women, and were introduced as part of the evening’s festivities.
Like’s team at L/B/W Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. nominated her because as a single parent, she started and pioneered advancement for women in the insurance industry. The staff of Single Mothers Outreach nominated Tamara Gurney after she climbed the ranks to become a bank president in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Gail Ishimoto was nominated by her son because she worked two jobs while attending college full-time so she could provide her sons with a better life.
Nominated by the Single Mothers Outreach board of directors, Marlee Lauffer is an independent, successful woman working in real-estate development with Newhall Land. Debora LeBlanc, the single mother of two boys attends school full-time while battling cancer, was nominated by Charter College. Levitt Pavilions nominated Elizabeth Levitt Hirsch; she turned her life-long passion for the arts and music into a source for social change that contribute to community strength. DaAnne Smith nominated Gloria Locke. Locke was a sixteen-year-old living on the streets of Detroit when she convinced her mother to move to California to begin a new life. Barbara Ralsten’s daughter nominated her mother because this single mother broke through the barrier of domestic violence and substance abuse. When one of her children was sexually abused, she became an advocate to bring the abuser to justice, and appeared on national television to bring attention to the issue. Nominated by her family, Maria Rodriguez was a newly widowed woman when she smuggled her then seven-year-old son out of Cuba to the United States shortly after Fidel Castro took power. Seven years later, Rodriguez fled the country as a political exile to the United States to be reunited with her son. College of the Canyons nominated Julie Visner, a 30-year employee of COC and dedicated counselor, she helped countless students find satisfying career paths as she has battled back from cancer. Laura Pecham nominated Jayme Wisdom. Wisdom is an 8th grade science teacher who is raising a special needs son without the support of nearby family. Single Mothers Outreach empowers parents and their children by providing hope, support and resources so that families can become self-sustaining. All proceeds from the gala event will benefit the programs and services of Single Mothers Outreach, helping the organization to continue its mission organized around its four pillars of success: assist, grow, sustain and inspire. SOS Entertainment is proud to work with organizations like Single Mothers Outreach of Santa Clarita…congratulations to all eleven very special women honored during this year’s Empowering HeArts, “Breaking Barriers” event…truly an honor to have shared an evening with you.