Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area, a nonprofit located in Oakland, held its signature gala event in April. In celebration of the families who are part of the Make-A-Wish community, kids took the stage and shared their musical talents while attendees watched from home. Donations were made, inspiring stories were told, and there was a virtual red carpet and photobooth for all guests. In the end, enough money was raised to grant the wishes of 43 children in the Bay Area living with critical illnesses.
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In late March, Danville’s Rakestraw Books hosted British/Zimbabwean author Alexander McCall Smith, who has written books such as The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street. The independent bookstore’s owner, Michael Barnard, interviewed the writer, highlighting the paperback publication of The Talented Mr. Varg, which is the second installment in Smith’s best-selling Detective Varg series. Be sure to check Rakestraw Books’s calendar of upcoming events to see which authors will be visiting virtually next.
Every year, ABC-7 news anchor Dan Ashley presents Rock the CASA, a musical fundraiser that benefits children and youth in the foster care system. While the concert has previously taken place at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, this year’s extravaganza was entirely virtual and featured Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones. Money was raised for Friends of Camp Concord, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Contra Costa.
During Diablo’s East Bay Eats online series, food editor Ethan Fletcher visited the Slanted Door in San Ramon and talked with chef Dong Choi, who gave an expert cooking demo and shared a recipe. The premier restaurant, located in City Center Bishop Ranch, features innovative Vietnamese cuisine and is a local favorite. During the segment, Fletcher also stopped by the weekly San Ramon farmers market and talked with the director and several participating vendors, so viewers were able to get a close-up look at the town’s dining scene. Sponsored by Xfinity, the event is the first of many planned East Bay Eats.
The play’s the thing for Cal Shakes’s resident dramaturg, Philippa Kelly, who contextualizes works for audiences at the Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda. A professor and chair of English at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory, Kelly is also an author with 11 books and 100 articles to her name. Here, the Australia native, who is married to noted composer Paul Dresher, shares her love of the Bard, Cal Shakes’s return to the Bruns stage with The Winter’s Tale (visit calshakes.org for more info), and the similarities between Australia and the East Bay. —Rachel Orvino
For 21 years, the charity organization Opportunity Junction has helped Contra Costa residents gain professional skills in order to successfully enter the workforce. At this annual gala, guests were able to make a direct donation online or participate in an auction. All funds garnered will expand Opportunity Junction’s Healthcare Career Pathway program to the Antioch office, further aid in life-changing job-training programs, and continue to help hundreds of local job seekers and those who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.