Thanksgiving is almost upon us and the Community Clinic showed its gratitude to its supporters at a brunch on Sunday.
The Benefactors Brunch & Bubbly was held at Marshall and Joyce Linn's elegant hillside home with a fabulous view, scrumptious food and a guest list of some of the most caring people in town — some of whom received awards at the brunch.
Dr. Pamela Lawrence was honored by the Orange County Community Foundation with the Power Pack Philanthropist Award, for which she was nominated by the clinic.
"Pamela is being honored not only for her work with the Community Clinic, but for extraordinary commitment to make a positive impact on her patients and community," said foundation Vice President Tom Hanson.
"Her leadership, financial and volunteer support and personal caring have made direct improvements to the health and well-being of more than 5,000 patients."
Lawrence is immediate past-president of the clinic and will be serving her third term on the board. She also serves on the UC Irvine Emeriti Assn. and Emeriti Board, where she taught.
"I can think of 100 people who should be standing up here," Lawrence said "The clinic is a bright spot for people who have no place else to go when faced with an illness — no doctor, no insurance."
The award includes a $500 donation to the nonprofit of the recipient's choice. Not too hard to guess what that was.
Lawrence is also active in Healthy Laguna, a coalition that encourages healthy lifestyles, from eating and exercise to stress reduction.
Board member George Heed, the driving force behind the Clinic Foundation, presented the Legacy Donor of the Year Award to board member Marion Jacobs, author, educator and a clinical psychologist for 30 years.
"You have donated time, expertise, annual gifts and have been stellar in helping the clinic reach its endowment goals," Heed said.
Jacobs decided to leave money to the clinic from a charitable trust set up by her former husband, but she forgot to mention it to clinic Director Tom Bent until recently.
"I thought he was going to faint," Jacobs said.
Before the presentation, Heed paid homage to the guests at the brunch.
"Everyone here is a hero," Heed said. "We are able to see more patients and deal with folks who have immediate needs."
The clinic has offered medical care to the underserved for 42 years on a sliding-fee basis to anyone in need.
"We went from a free clinic to a little known community clinic to a major force in medical services in Laguna Beach," Heed said. "A lot has been done in the past four years due to the unmatched efforts of Tom and his wife Carolyn, a matched pair."
Bent, who has been involved with the clinic since 1982, announced that he and his wife were also leaving a gift from their estate, due to the generosity of her father — and then dropped his bombshell — the result of a visit to the clinic by Mark Porterfield, who heads up the PIMCO Foundation.
"He came by on Friday," Bent said. "I was chatting him up and mentioned that we had not received a grant from PIMCO this year and Bill and Sue Gross [Bill Gross is PIMCO's founder] are generous, but they don't accept requests.
"Mark reached into his pocket and pulled out a wadded piece of paper. It was a $50,000 check from Bill and Sue," Brent added.
The Grosses had previously donated $50,000 in 2011.
Bruce and Debbie Mulligan, a former clinic board president, accepted the Benefactors of the Year Award for Bruce and Jan Scherer, who were unable to attend the brunch.
Clinic Director Adriana Nieto-Sayegh presented the Volunteer of the Year Award to Dr. Arthur Corish.
"The award-winner is chosen by the staff and it was unanimous," Nieto-Sayegh said.
Corish heads the Blind Prevention Project.
"I love coming to these events," Corish said. "I always learn something. This time, I learned to always pick up crumpled-up pieces of paper."
Corish said working at the clinic is a reward in itself.
"By and large, 99% of the patients are so appreciative and their lives are better," Corish said. "It keeps you coming back."
Heed asked Lawrence to come to the microphone to help him with the final award of the day, but it was just a ruse.
He presented her with a crystal gavel in honor of her contributions to the clinic.
"She is so modest that this is playing heck with her," Heed said.
Lawrence is succeeded as board President by Roya Cole, who was introduced to the clinic by a long-time supporter.
"He knew I did a lot of volunteer work and he invited me to come and see the clinic," Cole said.
Her first reaction: "How do the doctors work in these small spaces? We need to work on it."
She has been working at it for four years.
Jacobs was invited to get involved in the clinic by former board member Vera Martinez.
"But I declined," Jacobs said. "Then Barbara Hamkalo got me to go to a reception. After listening to them talk, I thought 'Wow, I really have to get involved with this.'"
Board member Hamkalo was introduced to the clinic by Lawrence.
"We met at an American Association of University Women event," Hamkalo said. "We were both in biological sciences at UCI and she lured me in."
Mary Kate Saunders said she was roped onto the board by the Mulligans and the Bents.
"I believe everybody should have access to health care," said Saunders.
Other board members include Richard A. Kain, Gary Beverage, Dr. Orson Dee, Anne E. Johnson, Elaine Lawson, John J. Link Jr., Chris Loidolt, Ann McDonald, Jay McDonald, Susan Neely and Brian Sadler.
The brunch was organized by clinic staff members Monica Prado and Jaime Nappi.
For more information about the clinic call (949) 494 0761.
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