Friends of griefHaven Presents
Live Your Best Life Luncheon
Left to right back row: Wendy Broudy, Melanie Speiser, Susan Whitmore, Beth Abrams,
Jessica Dishell, Nicole Foos, Christina Porter Left to right front row: Linda Rosen and Robin Aronson
October 8, 2012 at the Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles
By Beth Abrams Friends of griefHaven Council Member
On October 8, 2012, more than 125 "friends" of griefHaven gathered at the Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles for the first annual Friends of griefHaven luncheon. (Enjoy the photos below.)
Friends of griefHaven is a new organization that supports griefHaven’s mission and vision, both financially and with “hands-on” assistance. The October 8 luncheon was planned and organized by the Friends of griefHaven Council. The Council is comprised of its nine founders, outlined below in the Council photo, and is committed to assisting griefHaven’s founder and president, Susan Whitmore. Attendees included several griefHaven board members, supporters, family, friends, and a number of parents and siblings who have lost children and brothers and sisters and benefitted from griefHaven's many services of support and hope. All of the friends who attended were given the opportunity to join hands with the Friends of griefHaven Council to widen the net of support for all of griefHaven’s needs. The umbrella organization is called Friends of griefHaven and includes an annual membership of $180. Over 50 people signed up to be a part of the ever-expanding Friends of griefHaven and have already begun to provide support in areas needed.
The morning of October 8 in Los Angeles was an exceptionally beautiful fall morning. As volunteers were busily working to set up the gorgeous room at the Luxe, excitement filled the air. Everyone had been working for months to bring this event to fruition, and now, here it was. As people began to arrive, they quickly found their friends, caught up on old business, and began shopping the silent auction for jewelry, clothing, special collections and unique items, restaurant gift cards, and services. The silent auction raised almost $4,000 for griefHaven. Generous local businesses and friends donated nearly all of the auction items. We are extremely grateful to those donors for helping us raise so much money!
At the luncheon, Jason Pitts graced us with his musical genius as he played his guitar while people mingled. Foster Corder generously donated his equipment and videotaped the entire event, including interviews with those in attendance. And Ritta Bardakijian beautifully brightened our surroundings with her incredible flower arrangements
There were several speakers, including our keynote guest, Roko Belic, the Academy Award Nominated director and acclaimed director of the documentary film, Happy. Happy's message is universally appealing to everyone and is spreading the globe with its important message: scientific research shows that we, and not outside factors, are primarily responsible for determining our own happiness, even after suffering tremendous loss. To read more about Happy or to purchase your own Happy DVD, please visit www.thehappymovie.com.
Roko showed a clip of his Happy film and spoke for 20 minutes. He is an engaging and passionate speaker about this topic of true happiness, and when he was finished, everyone in the room was on their feet with a well-deserved standing ovation. Roko’s talk inspired many of the attendees to purchase copies of the Happy film on DVD, with half of the proceeds of the sales benefitting griefHaven. We are so grateful to Roko for his inspirational speech and generosity.
griefHaven's founder, Susan Whitmore, gave a beautiful speech sharing her journey and how and why she decided to found griefHaven after the death of her only child, Erika, ten years ago to a rare form of sinus cancer. Representing the newly-formed Friends of griefHaven Council, Wendy Broudy explained how to join the new Friends of griefHaven, including its mission and formation. We are so thankful to the many new members who joined at the luncheon and are looking forward to working with them in the future on griefHaven's upcoming annual fundraising drive and other projects. There are so many exciting things coming!
The day included some tears, a delicious meal and scrumptious dessert, and ongoing, lively discussions about Happy. All in all, it was much more than just another fundraising event—it was a meaningful day where new friends were made, much was learned about happiness, and the desperately needed funds were raised to help griefHaven continue to provide support, education, and grief tools to everyone in need.
In the end, the Live Your Best Life Luncheon raised more than $12,000 and is a day that is indelibly etched in all of our hearts. You could say that we are all very “happy.”
Susan Whitmore, griefHaven Founder, and Roko Belic, Director of Happy, the Movie.
Thank you, Roko, for spreading happiness around the world and for gracing us with your presence!
Waiting To Open
Pre Event Susan Pitts and Jason Pitts,
Jason Played Beautiful Music for Us
Ritta Bardakjikian and griefHaven Friend
Placing Rose Petals Around The Table
Room Pre Event
Susan Placing Name Tags
In Just The Right Places
Christina Porter, Friends of griefHaven
Council Member Pre Event Set Up
Andrea Abrams, Fran Ostrow, Jane Abrams,
Pam Jacobsen and Barbara Siegel
Auction Table Special Item Piggy Nation
Barbara Siegel, Fran Ostrow,
Jane Abrams and Beth Abrams
Beautiful Collection of Cookie Jars
Beth Abrams and Jane Abrams,
Daughter and Mom
Beth Abrams and Linda Rosen Friends
of griefHaven Council Members
Beth Abrams and Linda Rosen
handling Credit Cards
Beth Abrams and Melanie Speiser
Beth Abrams introducing Susan Whitmore
Board Member and Susan’s
Husband Wendell Whitmore,
Karen Rhodes and Janet Swerdlow
Board Member Jennifer Wolf
and Susan Whitmore
Board Member Rabbi Steven Carr
Reuben and Susan Safier
Cindy Freeland, Robin Terman,
Shelly Goodman Helping
griefHaven Help Others
Debbie Barnett, Nicole Foos
and Gail Schenbaum
Ellen Shane, Wendell Whitmore,
Davis Gaines Schmoozing
Foster Corder, Nicole Foos, Kathy
Stark and Sandy Jancic
Foster Our Videographer
Friends of griefHaven Council- Wendy Broudy,
Melanie Speiser, Susan Whitmore, Beth Abrams,
Pam Solomon, Jessica Dishell, Nicole Foos,
Linda Rosen and Robin Aronson