Hundreds of guests gathered to celebrate El Nido Family Centers’ 90th Anniversary on Saturday, September 19, held at the iconic Robinson Gardens in Beverly Hills. El Nido (www.elnidofamilycenters.org) was privileged to be the first to co-host an event at Robinson Gardens since the Friends of Robinson Gardens (www.robinsongardens.org) and Los Angeles County began the restoration in 1982. For many Angelenos attending, this was their first visit to view Beverly Hills’ first estate, which was built in 1911.
“El Nido is proud to have helped hundreds of thousands of individuals on their journeys since 1925. El Nido Family Centers has established itself as a beacon in Los Angeles. Tonight we celebrate the past and look to the future of our children and families,” stated Liz Herrera, El Nido executive director. Guests entered the six-acre estate’s expansive grounds, toured the gardens, winding their way past fruit, vegetable and flower gardens to the tennis court that was transformed into a lounge and demonstration kitchen for the evening. The summer night air was a perfect match for the garden-inspired dinner and live jazz on the Great Lawn. Actress Gina Rodriguez received the Exemplar Award for her advocacy of Latinos and their impact on our communities. She spoke about her decision to only play characters that serve as role models for young Latinos.
Kaiser Permanente was honored for the compassionate and varied health and other services offered in its menu of programs to El Nido families via our community, and The Harold Edelstein Foundation, for its job training program “Harold Cares for Your Future Job Preparation” in which hundreds of El Nido teen parents have participated. Other guests included Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, District 3; Beverly Hills City Councilmember Nancy Krasne; Ed Begley Jr.; Adrienne Horwitch, president of the Friends of Robinson Gardens; Leslie Kavanaugh, past president of the Friends of Robinson Gardens; Rose Norton, former El Nido board president and Garden Gala sponsor; Phil Savenick, TV producer/director/editor and Garden Gala sponsor; and Susan Rothenberg, co- director for the Harold Edelstein Foundation.
The spotlight was on El Nido’s newly launched “Garden to Table” program that provides training and mentorship with the culinary industry through urban gardening, cooking and restaurant management. Youth assisted in cooking demonstrations on the tennis court with leading LA chefs who have been mentoring them. Chefs and restaurants who donated their time and mentorship, and presented cooking demonstrations at the event included Hannah An, founder & executive chef, The District by Hannah An; Betty Fraser and Denise DeCarlo, co-owners, Grub Restaurant; Ryan Legaux, owner & executive chef, Harold & Belle’s; Nabor Prado-Diaz, chef de cuisine, Hugo’s; and Jimmy Shaw, owner and executive chef, Loteria Grill. James Beard Award winner and Los Angeles magazine editor Lesley Bargar Suter hosted the demonstrations.
Young photographers, whose work was on exhibit from El Nido’s Gang Reduction Youth Development program, were on hand to speak with guests about their artwork. The exhibit, “Two Neighborhoods-One Vision,” represented photographs taken in Pacoima and at Robinson Gardens. Sponsors included Beverly Hills BMW, Kaiser Permanente, Sklar Kirsh, Wells Fargo and in-kind partners included Alila Hotels & Resorts, Bombay Sapphire, Limoneria, Snyder Diamond and St. Kitts Tourism Authority/Belle Mont Farms. For 90 years El Nido, a 501c3, has been guided by the philosophy that “a child cannot grow up twice.” El Nido is a safe haven for at-risk populations in LA, providing critical services to over 10,000 children, youth and family members each year in some of LA County’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. El Nido’s mission is to empower families to break the cycle of poverty, child abuse, violence, academic failure and teen pregnancy through outstanding educational, youth development, health and therapeutic services.
Photos: Dana Ross & Andrea Alberts