44 Women for Orangewood Support Group Raises $340,000 at Annual Scholarship Luncheon at Balboa Bay Resort

Mrunal Shah, Judy Nicholls, Yvette and Kevin McCarthy at the 44 Women for Orangewood luncheon

On Wednesday, June 1, 44 Women for Orangewood, a dynamic group of women passionate about helping foster families and community youth in Orange County, hosted their 18th Annual Scholarship Luncheon at the Balboa Bay Resort at Newport Beach.

The luncheon hosted over 350 guests and featured high-profile items such as opportunity drawings and prizes, including a Twila True jewel, a champagne cocktail, an Orangewood Youth Live Fund and two special guest speakers.

The event raised $340,000. All proceeds from the event will benefit the youth and host programs of the Orangewood Foundation.

“The support shown to us by our donors, sponsors and community members at this year’s event was truly remarkable and will have a positive impact on the Orangewood Foundation, enabling them to better serve young people who are with families in home,” said 44 Women for Orangewood. Co-founder, Susan Samueli of Newport Beach. “We are proud to host this luncheon each year as it continually helps the Orangewood Foundation help young people reach their greatest potential.”

The luncheon featured keynote speaker Deidre Pujols, the founder of Open Gate International, a culinary program that provides hands-on training and life skills to students, and Strike Out Slavery, an event designed to educate Major League players. baseball to the existence of modern-day slavery.

Guest speaker Deidre Pujols

She is also the CEO of Pujols Kitchen LLC and founder of Pujols Family Foundation, a national non-profit agency that supports children with Down syndrome and their families and improves the lives of poor people living in the Dominican Republic.

This year’s youth speaker, Junely Merwin, shared how her personal journey led her to become a youth spokesperson. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Junely entered the foster care system at age 15 with her one-month-old son in her arms and remained in care until age 21.

After her stay in foster care, Junely earned a full scholarship through the Guardian Scholars program at California State University Fullerton, earning her Bachelor of Social Work with a concentration in Mental Health, Administration, and Community Practice.

Guest speaker Junely Merwin

As an individual who has overcome insurmountable odds, Junely is now dedicated to advocacy work to improve the foster care system focusing on topics such as mental health, life skills, resources, importance of support systems, sex education, higher education and a focus on teenage mothers. She is a member and foster youth ambassador for Alliance of Moms which supports teen foster parents and continues to raise awareness for the causes she is passionate about through social media and her website, merwinjayact.com.

“Orangewood Foundation is eternally grateful to the group of 44 Women for Orangewood and their dedication to our community and the advancement of young people,” said Chris Simonsen, CEO of Orangewood Foundation. “The scholarships funded through this annual event allow us to support these young people and equip them with the tools and resources they need to pursue their education and reach their greatest potential.

Julie Hefner browses Opportunity Drawing Objects

The 18th Annual Scholarship Luncheon was led by Committee Co-Chairs, Susan Samueli and Judy Nicholls, and made possible by multiple sponsors and donors, including Magna Cum Laude Sponsors, The Samueli and Mitzi-Garcia Stein Foundation; Majority sponsors, Newport Beach Dermatology & Plastic Surgery and Union Bank; and sponsors Salutatorian Kaiser Permanente, Farmers & Merchants Bank, Modern Luxury, Julie & Greg Dunlap, CalPac Sheet Metal, Yvette & Kevin McCarthy and Anaheim Ducks & Honda Center.

44 Women for Orangewood was founded in 1999 by Susan Samueli. As some of the most philanthropic and dedicated women in Orange County, this organization contributes to the Orangewood Foundation by supporting and inspiring nurturing and community youth who receive support services through programs provided by the Orangewood Foundation. The group’s three main areas of effort are mentoring and education, community outreach to the youth Orangewood serves, and hosting annual fundraising events. To learn more about 44 Women for Orangewood, please visit https://orangewoodfoundation.org/44women.

Virginia S. Braud