A night in ‘Monte Carlo’

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Our Lady of Malibu members and the winners of the cash prize raffle smile for a group photo at the event. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT

Our Lady of Malibu’s annual signature gala delights attendees and raises funds for the school

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times

“Ooooh!” exclaimed attendees as they entered the exquisite setting at Calamigos Ranch on April 20. “Ooh la la!” 

With luminescent chandeliers glowing above the beautiful lawn area and elegant table settings, the scene evoked the Boulevard des Moulins and, of course, the event included a place to make wagers in a perfectly curated space evoking the famous Place due Casino.

The gathering began amidst lively camaraderie with delicious hors d’oeuvres and libations followed by a delicious dinner.

The occasion: Our Lady of Malibu’s annual gala, the school’s signature fundraising event. 

The attendees: Elegantly dressed ladies in shiny sequined gowns adorned with fancy, fascinating fascinators accompanied by gents sporting velvet jackets. 

The goal: To raise enough money to help support Malibu’s oldest private school. OLM has served this community for 65 years and has educated and nurtured many of the town’s leaders by providing an academically rich, inspiring education. 

Indeed, school parent Gina Longo, the current president of the parent guild and member of the team of dedicated parents and teachers who painstakingly and lovingly ensured that the event was memorable and successful, once graced the school’s halls and, predictably, she was full of fun and grace as she warmly greeted attendees.

Mary Grace, who offered one of the most intriguing auction items, shared how she thoroughly enjoys helping schools and other nonprofits fundraise.

“With the Zulu Nyala African Safari that is on bid tonight, I have raised more than $9 million in the last nine years!” Grace said enthusiastically. 

However, nothing was more cherished — and nothing garnered more competitive bidding in the live auction — than the priceless, one-of-a-kind artworks created by the schoolchildren. 

Proud parents vied for the delightful opportunity to bring home creative works made by their childrens’ class.  Ultimately, a custom handprint quilt made by the transitional kindergarten (TK) class commanded the highest bid of $4,000, an amount that goes quite far in covering the unparalleled academic experience enjoyed by every OLM student. 

There were, of course, grateful recognitions of those who contributed greatly to the OLM community — teachers who work assiduously to ensure that students receive quality academics, parents who nurture students and volunteer in classes as well for fundraising events, and, most importantly, the children.

“The 2024 OLM GALA ‘Shining Star Award’ goes to the Mitnick Family!” Longo announced enthusiastically, while also acknowledging the multitudinous contributions of time, energy and funds that made the evening unforgettable. 

Longo noted that David Tutera and his spouse, Joey Toth, parents of two students at OLM, wanted to find a way to help raise funds for OLM. 

Tutera, a celebrity wedding planner and host of the TV show “My Fair Wedding,” provided custom crystal candelabras in a soft lavender hue with pink candles. The base candelabras were surrounded with aromatic and gorgeous roses, complements of Passion Roses.

“We wanted to elevate the evening so we added stunning linens for the dining room and we included glass-colored votive candles in white, blush and soft pink.” Tutera said, describing the spectacular venue he curated. “It was fun to help our school and most importantly, all of our children who learn there.” 

Longo also sincerely thanked emcee Crystal Sparks and singer Brenna Whitaker, who sang lovely tunes, including George Gershwin’s “Summertime” and “Sway.”

Longo emphasized that the entire parent community contributed, as did the wider community, but she especially recognized the tireless event organizational efforts of Lisa Hall, Greer Brath, Larken Cumberland, the So family, Jen Hardy, Charlie Solomon, Joey Amini, Courtney Macker and Anna Gorby, as well as all members of the parent guild, the room representatives and all who donated the fun and impressive auction items.

At the event, speakers also expressed gratitude to outgoing Principal Rich Nambu, whom Father Matt Murphy praised highly, to those who donated and those who bid, and bid, and bid yet more, and also to Father Matt, who led the group in prayer and who, to the delight of those assembled, also actively bid on the many experiences, services, artworks and jewelry items on offer.

After delicious dining and a raucous roup, attendees began to gamble at the roulette tables and play blackjack. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience. 

“Roll the dice!” One participant said, “Roll the dice again.”

Easy come, easy go — all funds collected benefitted the school.

“A Night in Monte Carlo” was one of those wonderful, exciting and joyous events, and attendees lingered under chandeliers and a beautiful starscape on a lovely Malibu evening.

“We had a very successful fundraiser bringing together our community and school to raise funds for OLM,” Longo said. “It takes a village!”