School fundraiser at Pechanga
Little hands create big projects for school fund-raiser
February 1, 2005
By LYLE SPENCER - The Press-Enterprise
TEMECULA - Laughter and humming accompany the constant movement of uniformed boys and girls in Olga Vordahl's art class at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac, a private Catholic school on Butterfield Stage Road near the wineries.
Their big project must be completed today. With help from five mothers, Vordahl takes charge as small hands place mosaic tiles donated by Wine Country Tile and Stone onto a Monticello baker's rack. Tiny fingers dab at purple paint, creating grape designs on wine glasses and an apron.
This is more than just something to hang in the hallway for open house. There are higher stakes involved.
The artwork will be part of the school's $65-per-ticket formal gala set for Feb. 12 at the Pechanga Resort & Casino. Up to 600 people are expected to attend the school's annual auction fund-raiser that generated $147,000 last year, said Carol Strode, event co-chairwoman.
For the auction, each class at St. Jeanne, kindergarten through eighth grade, fashions its own product, with a theme chosen by the room parent.
"We want to have fun and help the kids and the school bring people together to have a good time," said Karen Gonzales, a chairwoman. "I have three kids in the school -- in the sixth, fourth and second grades -- and this is the major event of the year."
Music by local prodigies Ben Robinson and Nick Badillo will evoke an upbeat tone as items are auctioned off. They will range from St. Jeanne class projects to a signed Jerry Rice football jersey -- half Raiders, half 49ers -- to cooking classes by chefs from Baily's and Bayou Kitchen. Organizers estimate 600 objects, packages and creations will go to the highest bids, some approaching $6,000, in live and silent auctions.
The goal is to top last year.
"Nothing like a little pressure," Gonzales added, with a sigh. "The event gets bigger every year, with the school's growth. This year they added a pre-school and about 60 new families."
Proceeds from the auction cover computer upgrades, sports equipment, vision insurance coverage and a variety of other school needs. One family with children in St. Jeanne was involved in a devastating auto accident; money from the event will help with their tuition fees.
Celebrities pitch in, too. Pro golfer Tom Pernice Jr., a two-time PGA Tour tournament champion and member of the Bear Creek Golf and Country Club in Murrieta, has donated a set of golf clubs to the event. His daughters, Kristen, 11, and Brooke, 9, attend St. Jeanne.
Co-chairwoman Nancy Rollins said the process of putting on the event is uplifting.
"It's just so great watching the kids do their projects, then seeing the community reach out in such a positive way," Rollins said.
"The nuns really get into it. They make beautiful quilts, sell raffle tickets -- who can turn down a nun?"
We look forward to great growth and diversification of our tribal economy.
Pechanga is committed to bettering the lives of its people and the surrounding communities.
Self-governance and self-determination are part of Pechanga's rich history.