Wining and dining for a good cause

By Stacey Wiebe


ou wouldn’t think that an afternoon of nibbling gourmet delights and drinking fine wines at a coastal resort could change a child’s life forever — but you’d be wrong.

At Casa Pacifica, it takes about $25 per day, per child, to make the difference, and that’s why events like Casa Pacifica Angels and Capistrano Restaurant’s 13th Annual Wine & Food Festival make it possible for children to find refuge within its walls.

As it has been for the past 12 years, this year’s wine and food festival is presented by the Casa Pacifica Angels, a special volunteer group founded in 1990 with eight members. Today, there are over 300 Angels who, in addition to assisting with various programs, raise about $400,000 each year to fund Casa’s services by hosting several annual parties — including the wine and food festival, a ball and a fashion show.

Similarly, the Casa Pacifica Amigos, formed in 2004 with just two members, is a volunteer program designed to provide positive male role models.

“There are two things we know that are predictors of success for these kids: an adult who believes in them and a constant place to live,” said Vicki Murphy, director of operations and development. “I think of these kids as porcupines. They’re crabby on the outside because they’re so tender on the inside. They’ve been let down by every adult in their lives. I’d be crabby, too.”

Last year, about 2,000 guests attended the wine and food festival, which raised $149,000. This year’s goal is $200,000 — a hefty sum that, if collected, will certainly help round out Casa’s annual $17 million budget. About 90 percent of Casa’s funding is derived from federal, state and county government sources, but the organization still needs to raise about $1.7 million in private donations.

“We are thrilled by the growth of the Wine & Food Festival over the last 13 years,” said Carrie Hughes, public relations and special events manager. “It has become an event that everyone anticipates each year and looks forward to attending. Not only is it a great day of entertainment and fun, but it is an important fundraising event for Casa Pacifica.”

More than 100 wineries and micro-breweries from California will share their wares at the food and wine festival, where over 75 Ventura County restaurants will present culinary delights. The day’s entertainment will include Disco Inferno, a tribute to the ’70s band; Benise, from the PBS special, Nights of Fire: Feel the Romance, Live the Passion; the melodic tones of steel drums; the jazz vocals of Jeanne Tatum; the magic of Shawn McMasters; and surprise guests and dancers. Ventura County disc jockey Bruce Barrios will emcee the day’s events, including a live auction that will offer tropical vacation getaways and two 2006 Harley Davidson Sportsters. In addition, about 300 gift baskets will be presented for a silent auction.

This year’s wine and food festival is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. on June 4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Mandalay Beach Resort, in Oxnard. For more information about Casa Pacifica, or to order tickets for the wine and food festival, access, or call Casa’s development department at (805) 445-7831.


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