What A Virtual Fundraiser Looks and Tastes Like — Home Together With LA Family Housing

In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Home Together Fundraiser (Michele Stueven)In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Dinner from Angelini Osteria , dessert by Big Sugar Bake Shop (Michele Stueven)In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Salume misto (Michele Stueven)In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Angelini Osteria antipasti (Michele Stueven)In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Lasagne verde, Gino's meatballs and eggplant parmigiana (Michele Stueven)In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)India Arie performs "Strength, Courage & Wisdom” with the help of her bandIn Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)India Arie performing her song , Strength, Courage & Wisdom” with the help of her bandIn Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Ed Helms unpluggedIn Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Los Angeles City Council President Nury MartinezIn Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)Sweet ending - Big Sugar Bake Shops treats (Michele Stueven)In Good Taste Wines (Michele Stueven)

Full disclosure here, despite missing social interaction and leading a healthy Zoom life, I’ve been a little skeptical about virtual events. Where’s the anticipation? They just seemed predictable. So I decided to give it a whirl and signed up for the Home Together event to help raise funds for LA Family Housing. It’s a whole new way of life — and I like it.

The day before the event the first surprise appeared: a wine tasting flight of eight California coastal wines from In Good Taste — enough for two.  Top scores went to Sonoma County Balance of Powers red blend and the In Good Taste cabernet sauvignon out of Paso Robles. The Stealing Thunder Syrah came in at a close third.

A few hours before the 7 p.m. event, the Angelini Osteria delivery arrived:  Tuscan fettunta, Caesar salad with walnuts, Gino’s meatballs, eggplant parmigiana, assorted salami and olives, lasagna verde with beef and veal ragu and fried spinach. Complete with decorative place mats, the perfectly proportioned and precooked dinner for two could be reheated in two minutes at the diners’ leisure to be followed by two boxes of Big Sugar Bake Shops treats, including biscotti to dip into the abundant wine supply.

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Salume misto (Michele Stueven)

The Home Together show, hosted by actor and comedian P.J. Byrne ​started promptly at 7 p.m. and all attendees had a front row seat — no clanking of dishes or need for neck craning.

During the program, viewers heard from event chair ​Blair Rich, president of Worldwide Marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures Group and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment​,​ ​Congressman Adam Schiff, Mayor Eric Garcetti​, ​Los Angeles City​ ​Council President Nury Martinez​, all singing the praises of LA Family Housing and it’s frontline staff and program participants.

The highlight of an evening on the couch in my civvies was Grammy award-winning artist ​India Arie performing “Strength, Courage & Wisdom” with the help of her band, followed by a folksy performance on the guitar by actor Ed Helms from his porch. Other celebrity appearances included ​Kristen Bell, Troian Bellisario, Camila Coelho, JD McCrary ​and​ Raegan Revord.

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Lasagne verde, Gino’s meatballs and eggplant parmigiana (Michele Stueven)

Instead of the annual LAFH Awards Gala, which was slated to raise over $2 million, Home Together was promoted as an evening of inspiration and celebration during a time of uncertainty and challenge. Since the stay-at-home order was enacted, LA Family Housing has moved 450+ people indoors, provided 1,300 meals a day to families in need, and partnered with L.A. County to temporarily convert four motels to new shelters for people at risk of or infected with coronavirus.

With 980 attendees across four platforms — the unique event web page, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — Home Together met its fundraising goal of $250,000 raised the night of the virtual event on Thursday, June 25. Combined with the $1 million already raised for April 2020 LAFH Awards gala (canceled due to COVID-19), LA Family Housing raised a total of $1.25 million in support of their work to end homelessness in Los Angeles.

The only navigating I had to do was from the kitchen to the den and I was able to do it in my stocking feet. I could get used to that.

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