UnWINEd and LA's BEST Friends raise over $200,000!

It was a perfect evening on the Westside of L.A., with cooling weather, a high moon, and an elegantly dressed young crowd filing into an exclusive affair to drink wine, nibble on gourmet desserts, and shop for luxury items and unique experiences to enjoy. 

A typical Saturday night in Santa Monica. 

Except this was for kids. And a fundraiser, no less.

More than 700 rising young professionals exited the fast lane for one night to support a worthy cause, LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program, which provides free enrichment to the children with the highest needs all over the city at 195 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The 8th annual UnWINEd with LA's BEST event, presented by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, is an example of the New Philanthropy, brought to you by the We Generation – a burgeoning group of young professionals who are just as committed to doing social good as they are to having a good social life.  This particular group, the LA’s BEST Friends Board, has turned this annual event into one of the most-innovative charity events in the City. The BEST Friends Board members include corporate attorneys, bio-tech executives, financial planners, entertainment lawyers, celebrity publicists and many other young movers and shakers.

Temerity Pinot Noir ready to be poured at UnWINEd

By 7:00PM, the stage for UnWINEd was set, premium wine bottles were uncorked, and the cool chic crowd began to fill Hangar 8 at Santa Monica Airport.  The buzz in the air was a mixture of laughter, clinking glasses, and music from DJ AmRo.  Everyone was eager to taste delicious wine, bid on amazing auction items, and raise money for LA's BEST.

Current and former BEST Friends board members

The hosts, LA's BEST Friends Board, had already enjoyed a reunion reception that brought together current and past board members to celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary. The young professionals board was created in 2004 with only 18 members, who raised $35,000 in the first year.  Today, the board is comprised of 26 members, with a network of 3,500 associates, and is raising over $400,000 annually.

Led by event co-chairs Moze Cowper, Nathalie Huddleston, Jennifer Searle, the UnWINEd Host Committee and the LA's BEST Friends Board set a $150,000 goal for this year’s edition of UnWINEd with LA's BEST.

Singer, actress, host and reality star Christina Milian donated wine to the event from her own Viva Diva Wines collection and was a special guest of the evening.  

Christina Milian with guests at her Viva Diva Wines booth during UnWINEd

"It was such an honor to be a part of such a wonderful organization that truly makes a difference in the lives of children through education, enrichment and recreation programs in the city of Los Angeles," Milian said. "My Mother, manager, and partner Carmen Milian, our other partner Robyn Santiago and I were so happy at the overwhelming response that all the attendees had to Viva Diva Wines."

Christina Milian on stage at UnWINEd

Milian arrived with her sister, Danielle Flores, her mother, Carmen Milian, and a camera crew filming her upcoming docu-series for the E! Entertainment Television.  Christina first helped serve her Moscato to guests and later talked onstage about her experience with after school programs, which benefited her sisters, and about her support for LA's BEST.  She then introduced Warner-Chappell songwriter and singer Zak Waters.

Zak Waters performing on stage at UnWINEd

Waters had arrived early and was very enthusiastic about performing and helping the event raise money for LA's BEST.  As a child who grew up in Los Angeles and attended an LAUSD school, he spoke very passionately about the importance of LA's BEST and after school programs. 

"It was a real honor to play at LA's BEST UnWINEd event," Waters said. "I grew up in the LAUSD school system and would have greatly benefited from an afterschool program like LA’s BEST. They are making a real difference for so many students and I’m proud to support it."

Waters performed a short set, just enough to get the dance floor going, and then stayed afterward to mingle with the crowd and consent to selfies taken by guests, staff, and volunteers.

The popular event included offerings from over a dozen wineries, gourmet food trucks, as well as an array of decadent desserts and a silent auction with a variety of irresistible items, such as VIP Coachella tickets, a seven-day Mount Kilimanjaro adventure, and much more.  

Sugarfina dishing up delicious treats at UnWINEd

LA's BEST After School Program serves 29,000 kids throughout Los Angeles. 

And by the way, this year, UnWINEd with LA’s BEST raised $204,000 for the after school program!

Click here to see the entire UnWINEd Photo Gallery!

Photo Credit: Ben Gibbs.