The Berkeley Public Library Foundation held an online celebration hosted by Roman Mars, the creator of the radio show 99% Invisible. Throughout the program, viewers were able to get a sneak peek of the new Central Library spaces, enjoy music and dance performances, hear stories and poetry by local authors, and participate in a silent auction. Guests included author and filmmaker Laleh Khadivi, violinist Matthew Szemela, poet Ross Gay, and the executive director of the Berkeley Symphony, René Mandel. All proceeds support library innovations and will expand access to the community.
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The 16th Annual East Bay Women’s Conference—a five-part speaker series highlighting inspiring women—kicked off in March with a live chat and question-and-answer session with Glennon Doyle, activist and New York Times best-selling author of Untamed and Carry On, Warrior. Presented by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, the conversation continued in April with Jennifer Ashton, M.D., and will extend until July with three more guests: British journalist Isha Sesay, writer and television host Amaryllis Fox, and lawyer and CEO Tina Tchen.
For the ultimate virtual food and wine pairing experience, the Wheelchair Foundation—a nonprofit headquartered in San Ramon—and Wine For Wheels joined together to raise funds and awareness for those with physical disabilities. The event was also in collaboration with Castello di Amorosa, a winery in Calistoga that was partly destroyed in the Glass Fire last year. Event guests enjoyed wine from Castello di Amorosa with help from lead sommelier Mary Davidek and food from chef Vincenzo Coppola. All proceeds will provide wheelchairs to people in Napa and Sonoma counties. Those who still wish to make a donation can do so at wineforwheels.org.
Every year Hope Solutions hosts its gala, Ruby Slippers–There’s No Place Like Home, to raise funds for homeless families and individuals in Contra Costa County. The organization–which aims to heal the effects of poverty by providing permanent housing and support to those who are vulnerable–went virtual this year by live streaming the event. Along with auctions and musical entertainment by the Yellow Brick Road Trio and the Pacific Choir, more money was garnered through Fund-a-Need, in which participants gave directly to the cause. Also, the 2021 Children’s Choice Award recipient, Roderick Norris, was announced.
In honor of its 30th annual fundraiser, Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) put on a special virtual concert that featured a lineup of several big-name entertainers. Performers included Gloria Estefan, Luke Combs, Trace Adkins, Sammy Hagar and the Circle, Bruce Hornsby, the Doobie Brothers, and many more. Attendees were able to watch the prerecorded event any time they wanted over a four-day period, and all funds raised went directly to shelter animals looking for their forever homes. The Walnut Creek-based nonprofit—which has been saving the lives of dogs and cats since its founding in 1991—offers plenty of other ways to help. Consider an online donation, or take part in one of ARF’s volunteer opportunities.
Cherilyn Parsons is the founder and executive director of the Bay Area Book Festival, now in its seventh year. For the second year in a row, the event will be held virtually, with a lineup of top authors and literary discussions taking place May 1–9 (visit baybookfest.org for more info). Here, Parsons shares her thoughts on why the festival resonates, the importance of literary community, and the power of poetry.