Q: Why do you chair the OUR HOUSE House of Hope Gala?
: This is the second time I've chaired the gala and I love it. I get to show my friends and family what OUR HOUSE is truly about. Grief is something we will all encounter; no one person is immune. It is a great comfort to know that OUR HOUSE is there for people to turn to for support. Our amazing volunteers give so much of themselves and it shows in everything from groups to Camp Erin.
Mani: I love throwing big parties and this is a great way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of OUR HOUSE.
It allows me to apply my efforts and love for this great organization. Having the chance to share the stories of OUR HOUSE and bring energy and interest to the Gala gives me pride; my kids are also very proud of me.
Q: What is your favorite part of the evening?
Michelle: By far the agency video and testimonials. The children and parents who speak are so brave and offer a raw behind-the-scenes glimpse of the lasting benefits of our services.
Mani: All of it. It is always special to hear OUR HOUSE alumni share their experience with our organization.
the connectedness people will feel when they experience such a special evening.
Q: What do you love about OUR HOUSE?
Michelle: I joke with Board members that when I first met the founder of OUR HOUSE, Jo-Ann Lautman, she "had me at hello." Anyone who has ever met Jo-Ann knows exactly what I mean. She is this incredibly dynamic woman who inspires everyone around her. She is the warmth, the love, and the determination that makes OUR HOUSE such a special place.
Mani: I love that we make a difference in people's lives.
That it's a
safe place for kids. As the world is moving faster and we are becoming more automated and have less human contact, in group there is nothing but human contact. Here we have real connections and conversation. Stories and memories are shared and listened to. It’s a sacred space.
Q: In honor of our 25th anniversary, what were you doing when you were 25?
Michelle: 25 was a great year for me. I had recently moved back to Los Angeles and started a new "grown up" job, got engaged to my college sweetheart, and spent most of the year planning a wedding!
Mani: I graduated medical school, went on a three month backpacking trip in India and Southeast Asia, and then started an internship in surgery at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in New York.
I had recently begun my career, was preparing for my wedding and was on top of the world.
What an exciting age to be 25, OUR HOUSE, you’re going to have a great birthday!!!!!