Wine is about sharing and in many cases giving. Ilene and Jim Harker reside in fashionable Newport Beach , California and have been giving back for many years.
The Harker's have allowed their cellar to be "raided " for many years with all of the proceeds going to the Speech Language Development Center. The story of SLDC began in 1955 in a home in Long Beach, California. In that living room, two speech therapists, Aleen Agranowitz and Gladys Gleason, began working with three parents and their children who had speech, language, learning and behavior problems. They had been lost in a maze of misdiagnoses. The children were diagnosed as aphasic - a term little used with children at the time.
During the summer of 1975, trustees of the Centralia School District agreed to lease the Oro Grande Elementary School campus to SLDC. For the first time in 21 years, children from the preschool, elementary and secondary levels were all housed at one location. In 1979, the Center moved to another district school, Mira Linda - our present location.
Today the Buena Park program serves 340 students with multiple challenges in language, learning and behavior. Children range in age from 3 months to 21 years. Special services support the daily classroom program. SLDC serves as a vendor for public schools, Regional Center and other public agencies.
In 2000 the Center negotiated a 27-year lease with Centralia School District. This engendered an expansion plan and a capital fund drive. An important dream has been fulfilled with the addition of 11 new classrooms and office space.
Today a busy Center swarms with children, therapists and teachers. It is a hubbub of learning and activity. It is a setting of warmth and friendliness where children and parents are important - the early goal of helping three language-handicapped children reach their potential has expanded to many hundreds - without losing the importance of one individual.
Speech and Language Development Center (SLDC) is a non-profit school and therapy center located in Buena Park and serving Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. More than 220 staff members provide programs and services for 340 students, ages 6 months through 21 years. Most students have multiple handicapping conditions. All programs and services are available on campus.
Speech and Language Development Center's program for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and students through grade 6 is known as the Jolin Program. Jolin features several Full Inclusion classes. This innovative setting, where regular and special education students share the same classroom, has tremendous benefits for all students in these classes. In addition, Full Inclusion classes create an opportunity for challenged and typically-developing siblings to attend the same school.
The Eric Program of SLDC, for students ages 4-21, was named after Evelyn Erickson, an early special education pioneer in Orange County. Unlike the Jolin Program, the Eric Program serves only students with challenges and provides a more individualistic approach to tailor each student's program within the classroom setting.
SLDC offers the following clinical services to private clients and the general public:
* Speech/Language Evaluation Speech/Language Therapy
* Augmentative and Alternative Communication Evaluation
* Social Communication Training
* Occupational Therapy Evaluation
* Occupational Therapy
* Physical Therapy
The Speech-Language Therapy Department provides group and individual therapy for adults who have sustained speech and language deficits (aphasia) resulting from stroke or other types of brain injury or disease processes.
The Harker's cellar has one of the best collection of wines we have seen in quite a while. The winning bids could have their choice to "raid " the cellar first and when we did a walk through there would be many amazing wines to think about which wine you would pick first. Several thousand bottles in various sizes and large formats were available. Highlights included Silver Oak , Chateau Latour , Chateau Cheval Blanc , Chateau Rauzan Segla , Sea Smoke , Gaja and Tokaji Essencia just to name a few.
Guests were greeted at the Harker's lovely Newport beach home with a magnificent La Grande Dame Brut Champagne 1998 to get the evening started. We took a walk around the pool and explored the Harker Cooler that consisted of many fine wines and the Mi Casa / Su Casa wines which were available for sharing , research and enjoyment. We managed to "research"and share a Markham Vineyard 1996 Bordeaux blend and a few others as well.
The Auction began and the dollars started rolling in as guests bid for the opportunity to raid this wonderful collection of wines. 100% of the live auction funds were donated to the SLDC. The etched , vertical "big dogs" were some of the first to go as the bid paddles were raised and the auction continued with many fine and historic wines leaving the cellar.
Antonellos's Ristorante pulled out all the stops for some pretty delicious Italian dishes. Since 1979 Antonello Ristorante has captured the essence of Old World authenticity with a new Italian cuisine - Cucina Nostalgica Italiana
Antonello's passed Hors d' Oeuvres melted our mouth with Focaccia di Recco , Gamberi e Prosciutto , Tonno Marinato , Salsiccia alla Griglia and Arancine kept the guests coming back for more.
The Antipasto from this well known local Italian eatery was next up for us and we were not disappointed.
Grigliata D' ortaggi and Insalata Caprese stood out for us as they tantalized our palates for what was yet to come.
Penne al Pomodoro , Fusilli alla Bolognese , Osso Buco , Salmone and Green Vegetable Broccoli were the main courses and they really showed why Antonello's has the fine reputation it does.
Restaurant critics the world over have admired Antonello's expansive menu of antipastos, soups, salads and fresh pasta dishes and we can certainly see why. They feature ample variety of exceptional fish, poultry, veal and beef entrees and an award-winning wine list boasts more than 700 foreign and domestic labels.
Antonello's has many awards including the Golden Scepter award from the So. California Restaurant Writers for an unprecedented 10 consecutive years and the AAA Four Diamond Award for 11 consecutive years. The American Academy of Hospitality Science's Five Star Diamond was awarded to Antonello for "...commitment to hospitality in all aspects of its daily operation." Zagat Guide says, "Orange County's Best Italian ...even worth the drive from L.A.
The auction "wined" down and people returned to their tables , Many with their "trophies " of the night. Some of the winners were gracious enough to share some of the wines that that had "raided" from the cellar. In our case we had the honor to share a large format Chateau Rauzan Segla Margaux 1976 with the winning bidder. What a wonderful experience with very generous people. After all , wine is all about sharing.
This annual cellar raid is a wonderful and fun way to raise money for a great organization that has been around for over 50 years and helped many many people and change their lives. We raise our glass to Ilene and Jim Harker and the Board of the Speech Language Development Center and say thank you for a job well done . Cheers !