TERAJI: Fundraiser a model of success

Heather Brodersen models a gown from Mafalda's Bridal Shop as

About 75 guests bought tickets to a champagne breakfast and
fashion show held Oct. 2 at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in support of the
charitable work by the Magnolia Chapter of the Order of the Eastern
Star, a Masonic fraternal order of men and women.
Elvis impersonator Rick Torres arrived by pink Cadillac and ruled the room in his royal blue jumpsuit at a champagne breakfast and fashion show held Oct. 2 at Eagle Ridge Golf Club.

Torres is one of the leading Elvis impersonators in the Bay Area and says he performs more shows per year than any other Elvis in North America.

No matter what their age, women’s faces lit up with irresistible grins as he serenaded them, wrapping his white scarf around their necks and giving away his sunglasses. It seemed he was channeling the real King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as he gyrated and sang all the great Elvis hits.

About 75 guests bought tickets to the show in support of the charitable work by the Magnolia Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, a Masonic fraternal order of men and women. The Order provides scholarship funds to help high school graduates, those in financial need and continuation students.

Ten local women, along with three men, modeled 60 different outfits from local merchants such as Mafalda’s Bridal Shop, She’s, Royal Clothiers and Creative Touch. The audience appreciated the range of sizes of the models, from size 4 to extra large. It made it easier for us “real” women to imagine ourselves wearing the upscale ensembles on display.

The Magnolia Chapter works tirelessly on behalf of several funds that support health-related efforts. According to member Julie Bradbury, they include medical and cancer research, a patient comfort program for cancer victims and patient financial aid. Members also support the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, as well as heart health-related charities. They also contribute to various nonprofit and other charitable groups throughout the community.

After the show, free makeovers were available from Nordstrom, and all the vendors had clothing on display for purchase. Guests dined on chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies, and sipped on cappuccino. One lucky audience member won a prize of having her home cleaned for free by Merry Maids.

The true highlight of the day for me came when a woman in the audience, who knew model Heather Brodersen, decided the 18-year-old should be able to actually own one of the gorgeous modeled gowns. This woman went over to the vendors and asked the price of the dress.

It was $300.

Undaunted, she asked help from the audience and they anonymously gave the stunning electric blue gown to Heather.

Heather’s mother, Julia, was just beaming as she told me about it and said she could not have afforded to purchase such a gift for her daughter – not knowing that I knew who had purchased the dress.

The next day Julia bought some classroom supplies to donate to Eliot School. It seems one act of generosity inspires another.

Heather sent out an e-mail to those who had attended the fashion show: “To whomever it was that bought me that dress … Thank you, I know you may know who it was, but goodness I would never have even thought of being able to own a dress like this. It has made me so happy; I love everyone and deeply, deeply appreciate it.”

Heather is a graduate of Gilroy High and a Gilroy Rainbow Girl who volunteered to model for the charitable fundraiser. Her local volunteer work has led to her being voted the grand choir director for the Rainbow Girls. She also serves as the Rainbow Representative to Ohio and Pennsylvania. She will be honored Saturday for her charitable contributions at a reception at the Masonic Lodge in Gilroy.

“We are a Masonic youth order, and our group is dedicated to promoting good values, teaching communication and leadership skills, encouraging cooperation and improving our communities through service,” said Melissa Williams, assistant leader of the Gilroy Assembly No. 125, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls.

The civic-minded nonprofit is for girls ages 11 to 20.

One of the most rewarding volunteer efforts Heather has worked on included a visit to the Santa Clara Hall of Justice in San Jose, where she and her fellow Rainbow Girls delivered more than 60 teddy bears to Eugene M. Hyman, a felony trial judge who deals with sex crimes cases perpetrated against children aged 14 or younger.

The Gilroy group collected all the bears and then delivered them to court.

“Testifying in court can be very scary for a child. They are in an environment where they have to talk about sexual occurrences in front of complete strangers, ” said Shannon Catalano, a deputy with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.

“When children have something in their hands, such as a teddy bear, they have something that they can squeeze and fidget with, which is very comforting,” Catalano said.

“It’s the best feeling,” Brodersen said of her many activities involving volunteer work. “Seeing how you can help others and how happy you make people is the best thing.”

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