Moving Forward Together

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Jewish Family Service of San Diego Celebrates “Captivating Stories” and “Magical Moments” at 2019 Heart & Soul Gala

From left to right: Michael Hopkins (JFS CEO), Jamie Carr (Gala Chair), Norma Chavez-Peterson (Honoree, ACLU – Executive Director), Scott Schindler (Gala Chair), Ilene Mittman (Honoree), Erin Combs Pearl (Gala Chair), Marie Raftery (JFS Chair, Board of Directors)

SAN DIEGO (Feb. 18, 2019) – Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS) will host its annual Heart & Soul Gala at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine on Saturday, April 6 at 6 p.m. At its signature benefit gala, JFS will share stories and successes from throughout the year, highlighting the nonprofit’s work to provide resources and support to more than 20,000 San Diegans of all ages, faiths and backgrounds. The event will also celebrate the contributions of its 2019 Mitzvah Honorees: Ilene Mittman and Aviva Saad, and ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.


Ilene Mittman and Aviva Saad

Ilene Mittman and Aviva Saad are being celebrated for their inspiring work and dedication at JFS’s Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center, which provides a safe, uplifting environment for individuals and families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Ilene has been a volunteer at the center for the last 10 years, and a true champion of JFS, encouraging countless friends, family members and acquaintances to get involved. Humble, dedicated, and compassionate, Ilene is the heart of the center on any day she comes to volunteer.

Aviva became program coordinator at the Balboa Avenue Older Adult Center in 2008. Where many senior-focused day programs struggle to find a place for those impacted by the disease, Aviva has created a schedule designed specifically to meet their needs. With remarkable energy and drive, she has led the center’s efforts to expand dementia-friendly programming and create a culture of care for participants, family members and caregivers alike.


ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties

The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties (ACLU) is a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in California’s second largest county and southern borderlands. In December 2017, ACLU joined with JFS and other core partners to launch the San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN), a coalition of human rights, service and faith-based organizations, attorneys and others determined to help immigrant individuals and families – including refugees and asylum-seekers.

In late October 2018, when federal immigration authorities began releasing dozens of asylum-seeking families onto San Diego streets without warning and without food, clothing, transportation or shelter, SDRRN mobilized to provide emergency shelter and humanitarian aid to more than 5,900 asylum-seeking migrants released by the federal government into this region. Together, ACLU, JFS and the rest of the SDRRN has worked to ensure that “no one stands alone in our community.”

Partnering with Honorary Chairs Evelyn and Ernest Rady, Gala Chairs Jamie Carr, Erin Combs Pearl and Scott Schindler will host an evening of dinner, dancing and a silent auction to encourage awareness and philanthropy throughout the year.

Underwriting packages are available and tickets are $360; both can be purchased at or by contacting Dana Levin, director of signature advancement events, at [email protected] or (858) 637-3013.

Current top underwriting sponsors of the event include a longtime anonymous donor as Presenting Underwriter; Charitable Adult Rides & Services, Inc. and Vivien & Jeffrey Ressler as Title Underwriters; Joan & Irwin Jacobs and Kathy & Mark Jones as Premier Underwriters; Marie G. Raftery & Dr. Robert A. Rubenstein, Hon. Lynn Schenk & Hugh Friedman, z”l* and U.S. Bank as Dinner Underwriters; and Barbara Bloom, Cohn Family Foundation, Copart, Lisa & Gary Levine| Lindsay & Mitch Surowitz | Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Mahau Ma & Sean Joseph, MG Properties | Hanna & Mark Gleiberman, Arlene & Louis Navias, Lena Price & Thomas Cohen, Lois J. Richmond & Family, Karen & Jeffrey Silberman, Sarah z”l & Nessim Tiano, and UC San Diego as Heart of the Family sponsors. For a complete list of Heart & Soul Gala underwriters, please visit (*z”l stands for zikhrono/zikhronah livrakha, meaning “May his/her memory be a blessing.”)

All proceeds from the gala will benefit JFS’s ongoing efforts to help people in crisis move forward, while developing innovative strategies to break cycles of poverty and strengthen the San Diego community. To learn more, visit


About Jewish Family Service of San Diego – Moving Forward Together
Founded in 1918, Jewish Family Service (JFS) is one of San Diego’s most impactful nonprofit agencies – providing resources and support to more than 20,000 San Diegans every year. Through integrated services, the organization empowers people of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds to overcome challenges, set goals, and build more stable, secure, and connected lives. JFS is committed to helping individuals and families in crisis move forward, while developing innovative strategies to break cycles of poverty and strengthen our San Diego community. To get help, volunteer, or learn how you can join us in Moving Forward Together, visit or call (858) 637-3000.

Media Contacts:
J. Walcher Communications
Ashley Weaver, (619) 295-7140, [email protected]
Sandy Young, (619) 295-7140, [email protected]