Kristin Martin is proud that she is able to help nonprofits through Table for Ten, an event she founded 11 years ago.

“I wanted to create a unique and amazing culinary event that features top chefs cooking tableside for 300 guests with proceeds benefiting local nonprofits,” Martin says.

For the third year running, two nonprofits have been the recipients of the $300,000 generated from the culinary extravaganza: Vocational Visions (VV) and The Teen Project (TTP).

Martin remembers visiting each of the nonprofit’s facilities to see if they were a good fit for the event. Vocational Visions had been suggested to her by longtime friend, Mike Danzi. She visited the facility and met its Executive Director Joan McKinney, who showed her what was being done for adults with disabilities.

“I left there in tears,” Martin remembers. “I asked Joan, ‘Are you the only ones doing this?’ And, when she nodded ‘yes,’ I said, ‘People need to know about you!’”

Martin was pleasantly surprised to learn that her high school friend Ed Lee was a huge supporter of Vocational Visions.

Lee, who is co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco, is pleased that the event is also a great cause for the 30+ participating chefs.

“I purchase a table every year and invite my friends for a great dinner prepared by Michael Doctulero of Mah Jong’s Restaurant,” Lee says. “Together with raising money for Vocational Visions, it’s a win-win all-round!”

There is another reason Lee supports VV. His wife’s sister is one of the nonprofit’s patients.

“Vocational Visions is amazing,” he says. “They connect the patients to jobs, in particular through the California Restaurant Association. Alisa has a whole life through them (VV). They take care of all her needs, and she’s excited to go to work.”

The Teen Project involvement came about through Martin’s friend, Nancy Coyne Vaughan, who was the treasurer/accountant for the nonprofit’s Orange County Chapter. She then visited with Teen Project founder Lauri Burns to see what the nonprofit was doing for homeless teens, ages 18-26, with transition to safe housing, education and job obtainment for a successful transition to adulthood.

“I was flabbergasted to find out that teens are aged out of the foster care system at age 18 and have no where to go,” Martin says. “I wanted to help!”

Martin met Deborah Keillor and Jennifer Blanchfield, avid TTP supporters, two years ago when the nonprofit was first honored.

“I have great respect for both of them for what they have done to put The Teen Project on the map in Orange County,” Martin says.

Indeed, the duo, who had raised money for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for years by co-chairing their fundraising luncheons and orchestrating the event’s runway fashion shows (Keillor’s company is DK Fashion Stylist), decided to fundraise for TTP instead after they kept hearing about the nonprofit’s programs via ads on TV with TTP founder Lauri Burns.

After contacting Burns and telling her they wanted to fundraise for her nonprofit (Burns couldn’t believe her luck!), they formed Teens For the Teen Project OC five years ago and called their friends to help.

“We had 50 mothers and their daughters attend, and we were off and running,” Keillor says.

Keillor and Blanchfield have held fundraisers with dinner and a teen fashion show and continue to work with health related facilities, such as gyms, self-defense and yoga studios, to raise funds and awareness. Their work with The 12, a group training gym in Costa Mesa, in a one-week charity drive garnered $12,000.

“We raised $125,000 in 2017 for The Teen Project College House in Orange County, which funds the house completely,” Keillor says.

Any extra monies goes towards TTP’s Freehab, the 180-bed facility in the Los Angeles area, dedicated to helping homeless young women by offering housing, food, drug treatment, counseling and vocational/job training.

“We have children these kids’ ages and to be able to help them makes us so happy,” Keillor says.

When Martin hears declarations like Keillor’s, she knows she’s doing the right thing.

It’s very personal for me,” Martin shares. “Because I created this event, I can help these people.”

Table for Ten, March 11, 2018, at Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa benefiting The Teen Project and Vocational Visions. Visit TableForTen.org 
for tickets and info.