Media Contact: Kristen Dolan

(760) 323-2731 x25



 Community Proves We Are Living United

 at 28th Annual United Way of the Desert Gala


RANCHO MIRAGE – (May 17, 2018) – The 28th Annual United Way of the Desert Gala was completely sold out – at over 300 tickets – in the week leading up to the unforgettable night! Early estimates show that the event raised over $195,000 to fund United Way and community programs focused on breaking the cycle of poverty in the Coachella Valley.

“We are overwhelmed with emotion for the love and support the community showed on Friday night. From Patti & Jack Grundhofer donating $15,000 to Steve Tobin from the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation generously giving another $5,000 on top of his $5,000 sponsorship, and everyone else who raised their paddles, sponsored the event, and bought raffle tickets – you made this one of our most successful galas yet!” said United Way CEO, Kristal Granados.

Sponsors of the event included: Gold Level – El Paseo Jewelers, Silver Sponsors – Grace Helen Spearman Foundation, Contour Dermatology, Pacific Premier Bank, Wells Fargo, Saks Fifth Avenue, US Bank, 4th District – Riverside County Board of Supervisors, Desert Care Network, and California Alliance for Renewable Energy Solutions. VIP Table Sponsors included: 1st Bank, Carl’s Jr., Pacific Western Bank, and Elizabeth R. Farver.

Attendees spoke of how moved they were by Kristal Granado’s speech on what poverty  means for families living in the Coachella Valley  - such as parents knowing exactly how many meals can be made from a single jar of peanut butter. The ambiance created by the event design and production of Frank Goldstin and MOMENTOUS contributed to a feeling of delight amidst such a strong and disheartening story of Coachella Valley poverty.

Even with such a strong message of poverty, hope was also evident in the ballroom at The Ritz, Rancho Mirage. Community members, dignitaries, and stakeholders gave a standing ovation to the night’s honoree, Mr. Bill Powers, as he received the John Benoit Community Hero Award. During his speech, Powers stated, “I’m proud to see the current staff and board carrying on the great tradition of supporting our partners and the Coachella valley by transitioning from grant making to true community impact focusing on education, health and financial stability.” He went on to conclude his speech by saying, “I’m very proud of my involvement with the United Way that does so much for the hard-working families of the valley and is focusing its efforts addressing the issues of poverty. Thanks for letting me serve on the board for all these years. God Bless you all.”

Photo Descriptions

Photo 1: Susan Francis of Ophelia Project with David George

Photo 2: Paula and Carl Karcher with their son Max

Photo 3: Jack & Patti Grundhofer

Photo 4: Patrick Gleeson and Elizabeth Farver

Photo 5: Bill and Anita Powers with family

Photo 6: KMIR TV’s Bryan Gallo with United Way of the Desert CEO Kristal Granados

Photo 7: Supervisor V. Manuel and Gladis Perez

Photo 8: Steve Tobin with the Grace Helen Spearman Charitable Foundation, Kristal    Granados, and Desert AIDS Project Director of Community Development Steven Henke

Photo 9: Palm Desert Councilmember Jan Harnik and her husband Brian

Photo 10: Assemblyman Chad Mayes and JoAnn Davis

Photo 11: Center - Paul Clowers dancing with Susan Stein and the crowd

Photo 12: 2017 John Benoit Community Hero award recipient Sheryl Benoit, United Way of the Desert Boardmember and 2018 John Benoit Community Hero award Bill Powers, and United Way of the Desert Board President Lynne Stephenson

Photo 13: Sheryl Benoit, Bill Powers, Kristal Granados, and Lynne Stephenson


About United Way: United Way of the Desert is an independent 501(c) 3 organization that has been serving residents for over 70 years. Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty in the Coachella Valley through mobilizing the caring power of community. Our Community Impact Fund – a focus on the areas of education, financial stability and health programs - allows us to provide over 150,000 instances of annual support to local residents who need us. Collaborative work with local programs, business partners, and community leaders is what differentiates the United Way of the Desert. We cater to critical needs, while simultaneously building positive and long-lasting community change. For more information: (760) 323-2731 or visit United Way of the Desert is located at: 73710 Fred Waring Dr., Suite 104, Palm Desert, CA 92260. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - @UWDesert