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A Walk in the Park

It was mom (and dad's) night out last Friday in Golden Gate Park where supporters of the San Francisco Parks Trust gathered for a gala on the grand veranda of the dazzling Conservatory of Flowers.

Clear-walled tents retained the flower-rific view for these gala-goers while keeping the thickly flowing fog at bay. Guests warmed themselves by wandering through the steamy delights inside the august and historic Conservatory, in addition to supping and snacking on the McCall Associates bountiful buffet which featured such fun "family-style" foods as mini-triangles of grilled cheese served with a demitasse of soup.

Heading up the host committee: SFPT Trustee Meg Bertero and her husband, Craige Bertero with Christine and Curtis Gardner. Thinking carefully of the message of environmental stewardship they best wanted to convey through their choice of decor, the gals chose Sillapere, a company which incorporates sustainable materials into its design elements.

"The 'chandeliers' are crafted out five-thousand recycled plastic bottles. We wanted this gala to not only look great but also be one that is not wasteful of resources," explained Meg Bertero. "We realized how important it was for us to 'walk the talk'!"

Meg's mother, Linda Fox, was delighted at the diligence of her daughter who has been at the helm of this successful SFPT fall fundraiser for its four years running.

"She thinks this will be her last year as chairwoman," said her mom, who laughed at the ridiculous thought.

Founded in 1971 with a grant by philanthropist and developer Walter Shorenstein, the SFPT is dedicated to improving and sustaining San Francisco's 5,400 acres of parkland and recreation facilities.

And that often involves the expertise of park habitués who know from slides and swings: moms.

"A lot of us are volunteer moms who realize the City just doesn't have the resources to keep each and every park in tip-top shape," said Amy McNamara. "But these moms are also professional women who bring their expertise to each project-- from architectural renderings to spreadsheets.

"So far we've raised $300K to refurbish the playground at Presidio Heights," said McNamara, a member of Friends of Presidio Heights Park Playground which is a volunteer partner of SFPT.

"And we need to raise more!" enthused her pal, Casey McGrath Giarman who rolled up her sleeves and carried her pail to the sandbox when the Friends of Alta Plaza Park privately raised $1.25 million -- transforming Alta Plaza's playground into a children's wonderland of delights.

The evening raised $260K which benefits the education program at the Conservatory, as well as general operating costs for all of the organization's programs and initiatives. Up next? A restoration of the historic Equestrian Center in Golden Park, in partnership with the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.

Racing, it seemed, from park to park, we wondered if Dr. Lucy Hume Koukopoulos had pitched a tent (for ease of access) somewhere within the verdant fields of Golden Gate Park.

The good doctor (a Pediatrician at CPMC) is also a mom, a wife, a former co-chair of the 2007 SFPT Fall Fundraiser and Guild Chairwoman of the new California Academy of Sciences.

"No, I swear," laughed Lucy, a San Francisco native. "I'm just so thrilled that between the new Academy and so many wonderful neighborhood parks being refurbished, that we are able to share the same places we loved as kids with our children."

 

Betsy Keller and Linda Fox

Carrie and Jamie Goodyear with Kris and Christian McIntosh

Casey McGrath and her husband, Keith Giarman with Amy and Michael McNamara

Charlie and Claire Goodyear with Meredith and Erez Levy

Daniel Donahoe with Helene de Baubigny and her husband, John Golob

Daphne Bertero, Brit Borhaug, Karen Gibbons and Susan Comartin

Dr. Barry Baron and his wife, Connie Goodyear Baron with Gretchen DeWitt and Jamie Bowles

Dr. Lucy Hume Koukopoulos and her husband, Nick Koukopoulos with Deborah and Dan Damond

Gardner and Kendall Robinson and Jenna Feinberg

Isabel Wade, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Parks Council

Michael Harrington and his fiance, Amanda Michael

Phoebe Cowles and Robert Girard

Presidio Trust Board member and former SFPT Board President Nancy Conner, Jan Sargent and Mary Robinson

Tom and Eleanor Paper with Dodie and Peter Crawford