It seems that with the arrival of candy corn comes the deluge of invitations to charity balls, gala fundraisers and holiday parties for the latest cause du jour. Being a divorce lawyer, I’m on everyone’s list to donate.

I get between five and 20 invites each year, most of which I choose to ignore for a variety of reasons from the mundane, “I don’t have a date” to the selfish “I don’t want to spend that much on a bland dinner and a boring speech.”

Honestly, the foundations all seem to follow the same playbook in their marketing: Find a cause, say you want to end it and print pretty pictures of idealized men and women.

That is why I was surprised when the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica called me to talk about their annual dinner. I was skeptical at first, but quickly I was charmed.

They invited me up for a tour of the facility. (How often does that happen when they’re trying to sell you a ticket?) I was very impressed with the quantity of services and opportunities they provide.

From the typical basketball court, donated by the Lebron James Family Foundation, to the film and media lab where they teach the kids claymation, filmmaking, and new media technology, the organization is caring for kids in direct and tangible ways. The number of programs that they are providing is impressive, from a healthy cooking class to a fine arts class.

It’s easy to see why they are so successful in helping kids develop a life plan that suits their needs and abilities. The people working at the club are many times graduates of its programs who have come back to give back.

The Boys & Girls Club operates nine locations throughout Santa Monica, providing a safe learning environment for over 4,000 students. Ninety percent of their kids go on to college and it’s a safe bet that few of them are out putting up graffiti in alleys and tagging buildings.

When it came time to sit down and talk about their 38th annual Auction & Dinner, I was just as surprised by the quality of the silent auction items as I was about the Boys & Girls Club.

I was hoping they were going to have a fireman for auction, but, alas, they only have some awesome items like a seven-night trip to a Balinese home that includes domestic staff for cooking, driving and easy access to scuba diving, and sight seeing with a car and driver.

The “Be a NASCAR driver for a day” was certainly getting my attention and I know of about five guys that would gladly bid on that item. If you’ve ever wanted to golf Riviera Country Club, but couldn’t get on, now’s your chance with a three-day package up for auction.

After you’re done hitting the links, perhaps you want to host a dinner party for 25 at The Galley. They’re auctioning off a three course, sit down dinner. I’d like to see some of the other restaurants in town top that! The Fig is trying to with a dinner for two and a night at the Fairmont, but I’m thinking those are playing to radically different demographics.

The Loews Hotel is stepping it up a notch by donating a two-night package. But they are also donating a one-year membership to their gym/spa. As a member at the gym, I can tell you that it’s lovely and I hope that someone fun and attractive gets this item!

For sports lovers there’s the opportunity to play a game of Horse with Michael Cooper from the Lakers, and also rumor of a Clippers suite.

I want the week’s rental of the Hacienda Cerritos outside of Cabo San Lucas. The only question is, which nine of my friends should I take?

The fundraiser is happening Nov. 1 at the Fairmont Miramar. This year they are honoring Jack Jones, a longtime benefactor of the community and Community Corporation of Santa Monica.

I love the work the Boys & Girls Club is doing. I love the fact that they have such a high success rate and are making such a huge difference in the lives of the children in this city.

And I’ll be eternally grateful to anyone that buys me the Balinese house vacation.



David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist ( He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.

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