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Thursday, April 10th, Upper West Hosts Fundraiser to Benefit STAR Education!

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On Thursday, April 10th, Upper West will host a fundraiser to benefit Star Education from 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm. The restaurant will donate 20% of sales during the event to STAR Education. The event will also feature a raffle with some incredible prizes. Premier Designs jeweler Bernadette Benavente and Artist Vicki McClay will be donating a portion of their sales to the cause.

The event was first initiated by Bernadette Benavente, a Premier Designs jeweler who decided she wanted to help sponsor a fundraiser. Benavente thought it would be a great opportunity to help a non-profit through her new found relationship with Premier Designs. She explains, “I believe in the company's purpose to enrich every life; to provide people a way to find identity, achievement and success; and to meet the personal and financial needs of all who become a part of the Premier Designs family.”

She then approached Jessica Balsam who had a networking group called Thirsty Thursdays and together they found Hannah Rothblatt who works for STAR Education. The networking group, created by Balsam was started in 2007. “Although initially it was primarily 30-somethings in the entertainment industry, explains Balsam, “it has grown to attendees from their 20's - 60's in all industries. Balsam has been coming to Upper West since it opened. “They were a great partner in creating the perfect place to host what had become Thirsty Thursdays (aka "TT Nights").”

Benavente also, a frequent Upper West diner says, “I love how Upper West supports local artists and charities. My favorite items are the mini mac-n-cheese and the key lime tart paired with the coconut basil sorbet! They have a unique Happy Hour menu as well. Where else can you find Lamb Nachitos?” bbenavente.mypremierdesigns.com

Hannah Rothblatt loves working at STAR Education and is excited about the fundraiser. She tells us a bit about the organization, "I am the Executive Assistant and Corporate Gifts/ Development Coordinator at STAR Education. We are a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that provides in-school and after-school enrichment education programming for students throughout Los Angeles and California. We are in over 60 schools in Los Angeles alone, and serve tens-of-thousands of students annually. We have been named a "model program" by the White House, and recognized by LA Parent Magazine as being the BEST for much of our programming (as seen on our website, www.starinc.org). Over 60% of our students receive full or partial scholarships, as we are in many grant-funded schools in California. We have partnered with Los Angeles County Office of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Beyond the Bell for much of our programming and events."

Artist Vicki McClay is very excited to participate in the STAR Education fundraiser. She is a Santa Monica local and her art is currently on view at Upper West. McClay was schooled at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center. She continued her studies at the University of Minnesota and The College of Art and Design.

McClay’s mother played an active role in fueling her desire to be an artist. “When I was about 12 or 13 years old she gave me a small oil painting set which came in a wooden box,” recalls the artist. “To this day, I always keep in my studio. She was a single mom with two children, so it was quite difficult for her to find the resources for classes and supplies, but she saw how important it was to me and made it a priority.” http://vickimcclay.com/

Stop by and help STAR Education while enjoying some delicious food Thursday, April 10th from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm at Upper West Restaurant, located at 3321 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica. http://www.theupperwest.com/

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