Saturday, November 28 , 2015, 1:05 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º

11th Annual Sunset Soirée Helps Give Hillside House a Brighter Future

French wines sipped and savored at El Mirador estate, with John Tilson’s insights providing an educational experience, too

From left, Hillside House Sunset Soirée committee member Cynthia Ardell, Dave Ardell and Sandy Hess.
From left, Hillside House Sunset Soirée committee member Cynthia Ardell, Dave Ardell and Sandy Hess.  (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

By Rochelle Rose, Noozhawk Contributing Writer | @NoozhawkNews | updated logo |

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

The lovely El Mirador estate and gardens in Montecito provided a unique setting for Saturday’s Sunset Soirée hosted by Hillside House. The 11th annual benefit featured delicious food and wine pairings for a “Mediterranean climate” created by renowned wine expert John Tilson.

Tilson guided guests on a delectable wine tasting of his own carefully chosen selection of fine French wines that mingled delightfully with Mediterranean hors d’oeuvres and small plates by Omni Fresco Catering. Also included were creative desserts, live music by JaZSation and a silent auction — all outdoors under the historic tree canopies of El Mirador.

Tilson has been visiting vineyards and tasting wines around the world since the late 1960s. He has tasted thousands of bottles of wine and written about many of them. He was the founder and managing editor of The Underground Wineletter, a famed resource of information for wine lovers. Since 2009, The Underground went online, and Tilson is still its leading contributor.

The summer-like evening in the magical, famed gardens of El Mirador was made possible through the generosity of owner Tita Lanning.

Auction items included original artwork by John Iwerks, Ray Hunter and Chris Chapman, as well as a week-long stay in Mazatlan, Mexico, and many restaurant dinners.

The Soirée committee included Cynthia Ardell, Susan Chapman, Silvio DiLoreto, Norris Goss, Wendi Hunter, Lynn Jones, Marlene Riemer, Pam Flynt Tambo and Jim Wolfe assisted by Hillside House executive director Craig Olson and development director Curt Lauber.

The 2014 Person of Purpose award was presented to Marie Williams Shipman, cousin of Barbara Williams, a resident of Hillside House for the past 59 years. Shipman has visited Williams throughout her time at Hillside House and often came with her mother to her cousin’s treatment team meetings. When her mother passed away, Shipman took on the role of Williams’ primary family contact. She is one of the organization’s most loyal and generous supporters. A resident of Rolling Hills, she is the president of Marbar Realty Inc. of Los Angeles.

“Barbara came to Hillside House when she was 9 years old,” Shipman told Noozhawk. “She is now 70 years old, and I think that is a testament to the good care and quality of life that she has experienced there. I think she is Hillside House’s oldest living resident.”

Mother Lee Harvey spoke on behalf of other Hillside House families.

“I had a difficult pregnancy,” she said. “My daughter, Katie, was born prematurely and she has cerebral palsy. I asked myself what would make Katie happy. After much prayer and research, we decided that Hillside House would be a good home for Katie.

“She enjoys a structured and happy life there and thrives on the interaction with her nurses, therapists and the friends she has made there. Katie has a limited vocabulary of 12 words that include please and thank you, and recently she acquired ‘oh boy.’ She is busy and happy. I am so grateful to Hillside House.”

All event proceeds support the day-to-day operations of Hillside House, a home and therapeutic learning community for 59 people with developmental disabilities. Eighty percent of patient care is covered by Medicare but the other 20 percent must be raised through private donations. The funding helps to foster meaningful, healthy lives for the residents who need the community's support to thrive.

Major sponsors included Marie Williams Shipman, Tita Lanning, MarBorg Industries, Union Bank, Silvio DiLoreto, Laurie and John Tilson, Marcia and Jim Wolfe, Armstrong Associates, Cynthia and Dave Ardell, BC Industrial Services, Nancy Read, Richard Monk, Dyanne and Erik Wipf, and many more.

Click here for more information about Hillside House, or contact Curt Lauber at [email protected] or 805.687.0788 x115. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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