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The Crowd: AnQi hosts 12 SPIN guests

August 15, 2012|By B.W. Cook
  • BENEFACTORS: R.J. and Rhonda Mayer, owners of The Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort join Elizabeth An of AnQi for a gala dinner announcing the annual SPIN fundraiser October 13th.
BENEFACTORS: R.J. and Rhonda Mayer, owners of The Hilton… (Daily Pilot )

Guests began arriving about 6 p.m., entering South Coast Plaza at the enormous black and white glass-encased Bloomingdale's Wing.

On a recent Thursday night on the Orange Coast, 12 people dedicated to Serving People in Need (SPIN) were welcomed to dinner at the chic Asian bistro AnQi, opposite Bloomie's. The men came in jacket and tie and the ladies wore summer dresses and proper heels. Fashion still can remain a sign of respect in a very relaxed world.

Elizabeth An, the impressive restaurateur who along with her mother, Helene, and extended family have created a celebrated dining experience centered around their refined Vietnamese fusion cuisine at House of An restaurants in San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa, welcomed her guests who had come together with a serious purpose.

SPIN, which has roots in Orange County dating back to 1987, was originally an acronym for Street People in Need. Its founders rolled up their sleeves and went out onto the streets to offer food, clothing and more to people who had lost just about everything.

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Motivated by religious faith, SPIN volunteers lived the term "a servant's heart." They made sandwiches, and collected coats and blankets for distribution. On a regular Thursday night they would head out in an old donated van and try to change lives. It was not glamorous. Their work did not lead to social and business connections.

Sometime later the group's name would transition to Serving People in Need. The change was a sign of great hope. The people they served were getting back on their feet, no longer living on the street.

Fast forward 25 years and the organization led by super dynamic Jean Wegener and a tight-knit staff, and dedicated board of directors and volunteers still heads out on the streets every Thursday night with food, supplies and plenty of respect for the people they serve.

Today SPIN also has programs that include counseling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, job placement and training, transitional housing, and more. Ninety two cents of every dollar raised supports these efforts.

The 12 guests at AnQi came to share the SPIN and thank Elizabeth An for agreeing to serve as the guest chef at SPIN's Oct. 13 gala dinner fundraiser at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort, Huntington Beach.

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