February 22, 2010 09:07 ET

JVS Powell Gala Raises Over $1.2 Million Dollars

Enables Agency to Keep Staff and Resources Available to People in Need

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - February 22, 2010) - Charitable giving has been hit hard recently, with people struggling to make ends meet. However, JVS' Two Generations Making a Difference Gala, held at The Beverly Wilshire on January 30, proved that where there is great need, people will dig deep to help. The event, honoring two generations of the remarkable Powell family, raised over $1.2 million dollars for JVS, a record in the 80-year history of the agency.

Said JVS CEO Vivian Seigel: "JVS has seen a huge increase in people coming to us for help, which has stretched our resources very thin. Although one million plus sounds like we're on top of the world, it actually is critical for JVS to continue operating without having to cut staff. That's the last thing we want to do when so many people are desperate for one-on-one assistance and the resources they need to get back on their feet."

Credit for this extraordinary accomplishment is due to JVS' Lifetime of Service honorees, Joyce and Larry Powell and Rick and Debbie Powell, who have taken the phrase "Whatever It Takes" to heart, along with the 750 people who attended to honor their achievements.

The gala featured moving stories from several former JVS clients. They included Todd Hill, an entrepreneur impacted by the California budget crisis who retrained for an entirely new career, and Ramon Rios, once a teenager at-risk of turning to gangs who has been working at Toyota for the past seven years thanks to the support of JVS. In an emotional speech that brought the crowd to their feet, Ramon said, "The Powells are like guardian angels. I wouldn't be here today without them."

The Gala was chaired by the Powells' long time friend John Goldsmith of Metropolis Talent, who also serves as the First Vice President of the JVS Board. Said Goldsmith, "It is impossible to say no to a family that leads by example." Jeremy Powell, son of Debbie and Rick, along with the other five Powell grandchildren and Rabbi Steven Z. Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, presented the awards.

Both generations of Powells are renowned throughout Los Angeles for their philanthropic efforts. It all began in 1968, when Joyce and Larry Powell helped established the Concern Foundation, an organization that funds cutting edge cancer research. Joyce and Larry also support SOVA, Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors, Vista Del Mar and JVS' Scholarship program. Larry Powell joined his son Rick on the Board of JVS several years ago. 

Rick Powell, who inherited the family furniture export business, also inherited his parents' commitment to the community. He co-founded Concern II for Cancer with his sisters. Now President of Ashjer, LLC, Rick serves on numerous boards and committees, including City of Hope, Concern Foundation, Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors, and the Mitchell E. Gordon Fund for California Special Olympics. In 1989, Rick joined the Board of Directors for Jewish Vocational Service, serving as First Vice President prior to his election as Board President in 2003. Under his guidance, the agency grew from helping 12,000 people annually to helping close to 25,000. 

Debbie Powell has established her own philanthropic priorities, with a special focus on women's issues. Co-owner of the successful event planning business, Hold The Date, she co-founded the WoMentoring Leadership Network, which provides mentoring for women in transition. Debbie is also involved with the SOVA Basket of Hope Project, Lion of Judah, Loew Vision Institute and serves with Rick on the board of non-profit arts organization Piece by Piece.

Since its founding in the early 1930's in response to the Great Depression, JVS has enhanced hundreds of thousands of lives with vital employment and career services. Last year, JVS helped an unprecedented 30,000 people through 20 programs at 18 locations around the Southland. A non-profit, non-sectarian organization, JVS works with city, state and county agencies to ensure everyone has access to the help they need, including career professionals, at-risk, foster and probation youth, newly arrived refugees and immigrants and people with disabilities. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @JVSlosangeles or become a fan on Facebook at JVS Los Angeles.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Melissa Jarvis-Prieto
    323-761-8888 x8774