Honorees at 2019 JFS gala
JFS Board Chair Marie Raftery (left), Aviva Saad, Ilene Mittman, Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties;, and JFS CEO Michael Hopkins

Jewish Family Service of San Diego raised a record $1.5 million at its annual Heart and Soul Gala at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine on April 6.

The benefit highlighted the nonprofit’s work to provide resources and support to more than 32,000 San Diegans of all ages, faiths and backgrounds.

“The support received at this year’s Heart and Soul Gala will help fund life-changing services for children, families, and older adults across our community,” said JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. “We are deeply touched by the outpouring of generosity from the community.”

All proceeds from the gala benefit JFS’s ongoing efforts to help people in crisis move forward, while developing innovative strategies to break cycles of poverty and strengthen the San Diego community.

With more than 600 guests, community leaders and partners in attendance, the event also celebrated the contributions of the 2019 Mitzvah Honorees:

  • Ilene Mittman, a volunteer at JFS’s Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center who has been the heart of the center and a true champion of JFS, and has encouraged countless friends, family members and acquaintances to get involved.
  • Aviva Saad, program coordinator at the Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center whose remarkable energy and drive has helped lead the center’s efforts to implement a schedule specifically designed to meet the unique needs of older adults struggling with dementia, and create a culture of care for participants, family members and caregivers alike.
  • ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in California’s second largest county and southern borderlands. In December 2017, ACLU joined with JFS and other core partners to launch the San Diego Rapid Response Network, a coalition of human rights, service and faith-based organizations, attorneys and others determined to help immigrant individuals and families — including refugees and asylum-seekers.

Organized by Gala Chairs Jamie Carr, Erin Combs Pearl and Scott Schindler, the evening included dinner, dancing and a silent auction to encourage awareness and philanthropy throughout the year. Evelyn and Ernest Rady served as Honorary Chairs for the event and provided a generous matching donation to all funds raised during the evening’s Fund-a-Mitzvah.

More than 90 underwriters generously supported the event, including a longtime anonymous JFS donor as the Presenting Underwriter. Title Underwriters included Charitable Adult Rides and Services and Vivien and Jeffrey Ressler. Premier Underwriters included Joan and Irwin Jacobs and Kathy and Mark Jones.

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