The center, which a project near and dear to the heart of
Newport's late Gen. Tom Riley and his wife, Emma Jane, serves
children and teens in Orange County.
The sisters' mission is to bring children closer to a spiritual
awakening, infusing a moral compass in the face of secular abuse all
around us. The goal is not political. Rather, in the arena of a world
torn apart by politics, power and influence, the center is meant as a
refuge, specifically for children, who may need a peaceful experience
more than adults.
Inasmuch as the home may not offer the security for children that
it perhaps once did, the sisters want children to know that love
exists in the world. The mission is tied to the theology of the Roman
Catholic Church, and because of this, there may be voices of
The crowd attending the fund-raiser was ecumenical gathering of
community leaders and role models, including Catholics, Protestants
The adults were touched by the presence of children who had come
to sing and distribute hand-made cards expressing appreciation for
the sisters' work.
The Moiso family was joined by a host committee that included
Leann Berry, David Celestin, Keith Eyrich, Richard Hunsaker, Emmy Lou
Jolly-Vann, Nicole Lawson, Kitty Leslie, Jim McNamara, Robert O'Hill,
Robin Merchant, James Phillips and Nathan Rosenberg.
The theme of the event was "25 Years of Grateful Love." For the
seventh year in a row more than $230,000 was raised.
After a group prayer from the words of St. Francis of Assisi,
luncheon was served, and comic Steve Ireland joined Melanie Salata
Fitch at the fashion show podium as emcees of the presentation.
Ireland is a brilliant wit, capable of poking fun at everything
and everyone. He has the timing of a latter-day Bob Hope and the
contemporary view of Jerry Seinfeld.
"They told me I could be edgy," he repeated after lines that cut
to the chase on many contemporary issues, including some directly
addressing the Catholic Church.
As the male models paraded the hotel runway, including Antonio
Cagnolo, Gilbert Aguirre, Richard Reisman, Richard O'Neill, Robert
Bein, Michael Brandman, Jason Brandman, Patrick Wayne, Father Steve
Sallot and Monsignor Paul Martin, the crowd applauded with gusto for
the community support and the message of goodwill.
Others on the runway were Newport's Buck Bean, Denny Bean, Ryan
Bean, Donald Kennedy, Parker Kennedy, Marc Lamkin, Tim Strader, Peter
Ochs, George O'Connell and Paul Salata.
Tony Moiso made a point of paying tribute to late community
leaders Tom and Emma Jane Riley, Sister Ida Peterfy, who launched the
program, and the late Bjorn Sedlenich, formerly with P.O.S.H. Fashion
Island. Sedlenich had been a mainstay of the men's fashion event for
Sadly, Beverly Salata was not in attendance this year, joining
husband Paul and daughter Melanie in working for the cause. Beverly
was ill for the show and passed away last week from cancer. The
devoted wife, mother and community activist had a heart as big as the
retreat center she supported with her loved ones.
* THE CROWD appears Thursdays and Saturdays.