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3 Million Reasons to Smile: Tipping Point

Cake may have been touted as the marquee headliner last week at Bimbo’s 365 Club where Tipping Point held it’s third fundraiser.

However the band’s well-deserved thunder was stolen by the stalwart supporters of Tipping Point who, in a matter of minutes, raised mega-millions.

To be exact? Three-million smackers!

“The success of tonight’s auction brings us to a total of $5.6 million raised for our fiscal year,” said Tipping Point founder and President Daniel Lurie, thrilled with the results. “And all of that money goes directly back out the door to the more than 50,000 people who are served by our Tipping Point grantees.”

Founded by Lurie in 2005, Tipping Point has raised $14 million in a mere four years.

Tipping Point serves as a one-stop clearinghouse for charitable donations by providing funds and infrastructure support to the most effective Bay Area organizations which address and deal with issues of education/youth development, employment/asset building, child/family wellness and Homelessness/housing assistance.

The organization’s operating costs (and the gala itself) are underwritten by the Tipping Board of Directors (including Kate Harbin Clammer, Mike Holston, Tracy Iseler, Chris James, David Lamond, Ronnie Lott, Alec Perkins, Gina Peterson, Eric Roberts, Daniel Lurie, Katie Schwab), who, on average, each contribute $100K annually.

“Thanks to everyone here tonight,” said Lurie, beaming, “We have three million reasons to smile!”

Perhaps smiling the most broadly? Tazo Stuart-Riascos, a client of Year Up, one of Tipping Point’s grantees which provides young adults with technical and professional skills, college credits, an educational stipend and corporate apprenticeship.

“Beginning when I was just two weeks old, I’ve lived in seven foster homes and attended six different schools,” said 20-year-old Stuart-Riascos. “I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t sell drugs. But I ended up living in my car.”

After completing the Year Up program, Stuart-Riascos is now an apprentice with Salesforce.com. He next plans to finish school, hopefully at Harvard University.

In addition to the big bucks raised, much of what is impressive about Tipping Point is its engagement of a new, youthful demographic on the philanthropic front.

Becca Prowda and her husband, Tipping Point Founder-Director Daniel Lurie

“What these young kids are doing is making a huge difference in philanthropy,” said JaMel Perkins. “I’ve been fundraising for 40 years. And these young people are already just knocking it out of the park!

“Of course,” continued Perkins, whose son, Alec Perkins, currently serves as Tipping Point Board Chairman, “I’m the mom.”

But Alec wouldn’t disagree with his mom.

“Tonight we have more people than ever caring about the fight against poverty in the Bay Area. For me, that’s incredibly inspirational,” said Alec Perkins. “Maybe someday in the near future when kids are reading about the economic problems in 2008, 2009, we can tell them that we helped do something about that.”

And help, everyone did. More than 600 guests (with a waiting list, to boot) turned out for this fun-raiser -- the smiley-face shaped invite specifically instructing guests on matters sartorial: No Black-tie.

The evening featured a delish Paula LeDuc sit-down dinner (short-ribs and chocolate sundaes) for 550 folks -- the likes of which had never before fit into the swanky, old-school interior that is Bimbo’s.

“Next year we’ll just use guests as centerpieces,” cracked Tipping Point Director of Communications Jenn Pitts. “That way we can fit 60 more people!”

But event designer Stanlee Gatti simply re-imagined the club’s traditional round tables into long perpendicular rows so as to fit in all the folks. Even though gift bags awaited guests at night’s end, Gatti’s sassy, smiley-faced floral centerpieces creations proved to be guests’ favorite take-away gift.

Among those guests? Helen and Charles Schwab; Google VP Salar Kamangar; Elaine McKeon; Cathy and Ned Topham; Ron Conway; Cisco Senior VP Tony Bates and his wife, Cori Bates; VC guru Pierre Lamond; Google's Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue; and Joachim and Nancy Bechtle.

The problem of trying to corral that many guests to dinner was cleverly handled with video help from Saturday Night Live cast members Kristen Wiig and Will Forte who gently shamed guests into sitting.

MC Hammer? Please sit down. Look, we’re onto you --  we know that you only wear those big pants so you can fill them with dinner rolls. Your secret is out. Robert Mailer Anderson and Nicola Miner: Hey, loved your SFJazz event. But that is over. Tonight is about Tipping Point. Have your seat.”

Sotheby’s suave auctioneer Jamie Niven deftly dislodged dollars during the lively live auction of two knock-out packages.

Dine-O-Mite was a gourmand’s delight featuring dinner by Top Chef Jamie Lauren, barrel tastings of CADE vino, a Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market dinner whipped up by Quince chef-owner Michael Tusk, lunch at Medlock Ames Vineyard, a signature cocktail created by Tipsy Pig and a Tesla Motors three-hour test drive). In just 10 minutes, it sold for $90K.

Head for the Hills featured a dizzying trip to L.A. (aboard NetJets) that included tickets to Elton John’s 2010 Oscar Party, two nights at the Beverly Wilshire, a trip to the studio of artist Ed Ruscha, a private tour of LACMA, and couture piece of jewelry crafted by designer Irene Neuwirth. A steal for $100K.

Giants poohbah Larry Baer offered up a Field of Dreams door prize. Inspired, 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary jumped into the fray with his own package for 10 youths at the Niners Training Camp. Which did so well, he offered it up for auction again.

“Any more auctions like this,” teased Trevor Traina, impressed by Tipping Point’s take, “And the poverty they’ll be fighting will be for the people in this room!”

But it didn’t end there! Next up? MC Hammer took the stage leading the crowd in surprising former 49er great Ronnie Lott with the Happy Birthday ditty as the four children of Ronnie and Karen Lott surprised their dad with a birthday cake.

And even as 300 more people were waiting in line outside Bimbo’s to hear Cake, this night belonged to guests such as Tazo Stuart-Riascos.

“Today I can walk through the doors of the San Francisco community with my head held high,” said this eloquent young man, who also poignantly recited a song-poem by Tupac Shakur. “And can I say to myself, ‘Look at how I’ve grown’.”

Check out the photos below.

Tazo Stuart-Riascos and Stacy Bennett

Matt Paige and Tipping Point Board member Katie Schwab

Tipping Point Board member Ronnie Lott and his wife, Karen Lott

Tipping Point Board President Alec Perkins and his wife, Serena Perkins

MC Hammer and Wilkes Bashford

Mimi Haas and Randi Fisher

Melissa Siebel, Trevor Traina and Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Bradley James and her husband, Tipping Point Board member Chris James

Event designer Stanlee Gatti with Nicola Miner and her husband, Robert Mailer Anderson

Prairie and Lauren Sims with Paige and Tony Arata

Dagmar and Ray Dolby

Natasha Disterro and her fiance, David Dolby

Tipping Point Board member Kate Harbin Clammer with Bill and Leigh Matthes

Ned Topham and Erin Dineen

Alexis Traina, Reed Woodson and Allison Speer

Peter Ragone and JaMel Perkins

Jeremy and Sabrina Scherer.

Tipping Point Event co-chair Gideon Yu and Rabbi Brian Lurie

Roger and Sloan Barnett

Shane Gidcumb and his brother, Jesse Gidcumb

Kate Banfield and her husband, Year Up Executive Director Jay Banfield

Cameron Phleger and Michael Horowitz

Quince Restaurant owner-chefs Lindsay and Michael Tusk

Amy Mueller and Brian Wilsey

Bimbo's co-owner Gino Cerchiai and event caterer Paula LeDuc

A marquee event