By Teresa Rodriguez
It was a spectacular evening of entertainment and surprises at REAF’s Help Is on the Way XXI Gala. This year’s theme was Hollywood Glam, and more than 900 guests were treated to an evening of wine, food and entertainment benefiting Meals On Wheels and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. The Nob Hill Gazette was an official media sponsor.
Exceptional performances were delivered by an impressive lineup of Broadway, TV and film artists. Susan Anton and the Help is on the Way Ensemble opened the show with a song and dance routine to Hooray for Hollywood, which was followed by a inspiring set of performances by Paula West, Jake Simpson (two-time Star Search grand champion) and Loretta Devine (one of the original Dreamgirls on Broadway). Tony Award–winner John Lloyd Young (Jersey Boys) sang thrilling renditions of Oh, Baby, Baby and Unchained Melody. American Idol’s Kimberley Locke brought the first act to a stirring close singing This Is My Life. The second act started with American Idol’s dashing Constantine Maroulis performing a rousing rendition of This Is the Moment.
The live auction exceeded all expectations, thanks, in part, to help from Asim Abuallah and Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum. All fundraising goals for the event were met.
Co-chair Sophie Azouaou was instrumental in getting sponsors and donations for this gala. “As a Board Member of REAF, I was truly honored to co-chair our 21st anniversary gala,” Azouaou says. “It takes a village to co-chair Northern California’s biggest concert and gala. I am deeply thankful to Richard Blum and Dianne Feinstein for their support. I am also thankful to all my friends for their tremendous help. God bless them all.”
Following the show, the lobby of the theater was transformed into Club REAF, a nightclub-inspired cocktail and dance party where JCB bubbles flowed, along with Ketel One, Bulliet Bourbon and Don Julio cocktails.