The TFT Guilty Pleasures Dancers with Linda Rider and Judith Antonio. Credit: Lani Garfield

Tools for Tomorrow (TFT) welcomed 200 festively attired guests to “A Night at the Moulin Rouge” at the Agua Caliente Resort Spa Casino in Rancho Mirage on Monday, Feb. 27.

A champagne reception greeted guests during the silent auction, chaired by Chris Metz Gennet, with prizes ranging from restaurant gift certificates to vacation stays at Marquis Los Cabos Mexico, tickets for Coachella Valley Firebirds hockey, BNP Paribas Open tickets, Boston Red Sox tickets, and much more. TFT program director David Hirsch delighted the crowd with his keyboard magic.

Entering the Cahuilla Ballroom, guests were put in the Moulin Rouge mood by TFT board member C.J. Westrick-Bomar’s charming Paris video plus the spectacular red, black and white décor (chaired by Terri Neuman) featuring plumes, balloons and roses. KESQ News Channel 3 meteorologist and Eye on the Desert host Patrick Evans thanked supporters for helping to celebrate TFT’s 24th year of providing its free after-school arts literacy program for children ages 8–11 in 17 schools throughout the Coachella Valley. TFT’s Theatre Troupe from Harry S. Truman Elementary School captivated the crowd by singing “Be Our Guest,” directed by TFT teaching artist Melanie Blue.

Following a salad course, guests enjoyed filet mignon, sea bass or a vegetarian tower. TFT board president Judith Antonio thanked major gala sponsors: event sponsor David W. Bryant (whose daughter flew in from London), venue sponsor Agua Caliente Resort Spa Casino and their amazing staff, Robert Wernick and Nan Shipp, Linda and Manny Rider, Robin and Bob Nugent, Sharon and Ken Clay, and wine sponsor Judy Mathes. Antonio also gave special thanks to gala chair Robin Nugent, emcee Patrick Evans, publicity chair Sue Fromkin, graphic designer Bob Deck and all the auction donors, volunteers and staff.

Next up was a video created by VJC Productions highlighting the generosity and charitable work of The Roost Foundation, with testimonials from TFT VISIONARIES co-founder Nancy Nevil, Boys and Girls Clubs CEO Scott Robinson, Rio Vista Elementary School principal Aaron Tarzian and Roost supporter Jeffrey Kramer. On the video, Nugent explored with The Roost Lounge co-owners Jeff McDonald and Charles Thomas why they are so focused on giving back to the community, especially how their “Christmas in July” fundraisers have financed Tools for Tomorrow’s after-school arts literacy program in 10 elementary schools over the past two years.

Antonio presented the stunning “Vision for the Future” award sculpture, created by Karen and Tony Barone, to McDonald and Thomas, thanking them for their amazing philanthropy benefitting charities from the Cathedral City Senior Center to Angel View, Martha’s Kitchen and more. Antonio said, “Jeff and Charles, you truly make a difference!”

After screening an exciting Moulin Rouge video created by Westrick-Bomar, Guilty Pleasures Cabaret can-can dancers performed for the crowd, joined by special guest dancer, TFT vice president Linda Rider.

Judith Antonio presents the Vision for the Future-Award to Jeff McDonald and Charles Thomas while Patrick Evans emcees. Credit: Lani Garfield

To cap off the excitement, Evans and TFT board member/sous chef Judy Mathes conducted a live auction for an Italian dinner for 10 cooked by Evans at the winner’s home, with wine provided by Mathes. After a bidding war, Sharon and Ken Clay were victorious.

The evening ended with decadent red velvet cake and the crowd dancing up a storm to tunes by the fabulous Gennine Francis and her fantastic band.

Save the date: On July 23, “Christmas in July” at The Roost Lounge will benefit Tools for Tomorrow.

To volunteer, donate, join the VISIONARIES support group or get more info, visit, or call 760-601-3954.

This was submitted on behalf of Tools for Tomorrow by Suzanne Fromkin.

The TFT Theatre Troupe. Credit: Lani Garfield

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