An afternoon tea with great girlfriends is an absolute joy. Add to that some designer shoes, a silent and live auction featuring luxury accommodations coupled with a designer fashion show and you have a lively concoction for Special Needs Network 3rd Annual Pink Pump Affair. The Affair was held at the luxurious (AW) Montage in Beverly Hills where women came adorned in their finest to enjoy a lovely day with friends while supporting the Special Needs Network. The Special Needs Network, organized in 2005 by Areva Martin JD, is a testament to how those with affluence can look beyond themselves and create better opportunities for those without. Areva Martin came from an Ivy League background to become a prominent attorney in Los Angeles. Life was grand and full – already a mother of two and an active participant in her local community while being a wife. Enter 2004 when her son was born. The next year he was diagnosed with Autism. While she has been able to provide the best for him she knew that others and particularly people of color would not have access to the same resources simply because of their limited financial resources usually stemming from an one parent household. Areva set out to make a difference and hence Special Needs Network was born.
On this particular bright and sunny Beverly Hills afternoon, over 200 women came together to support the Special Needs Network and to honor Women of Distinction. The honorees this year were Denita Willoughby, Vice President of ATT; Barbara Boxer, US Senator; Lady Denise Hunter, FAME; Monica Holloway, distinguished author and parent; and last but not least Jason Katims for his forward thinking insight to bring autism to light in a large scale medium through a weekly show now in its second season, Parenthood. While Jason kidded about having to sit through a fashion show (Catherine Maladrino fashions and her lovely models including Nicole Murphy did not hurt) and winning a Woman of Distinction Award, he left an impression of how he brought this issue to light and how television is the perfect format for getting the word out. I also got an opportunity to speak with a few of the distinguished awardees. Denita Willoughby, a working outside of the home mother and wife praised Areva for her efforts and was inspired by how Areva choose a path many would not. Areva was comfortable; her family had the resources to tend to her son’s needs and yet Areva “is a source of inspiration” and a role model who inspired Denita to continue to live a life giving back to the community and to leave the world a better place. Monica Holloway also praised Ms. Martin and Special Needs Network. She like Areva had an exceptional life and resources to care for her now 14 year old son Wills who was diagnosed with autism. She was so moved by the experience her son had with a puppy they rescued from a puppymill that she wrote a book about it, Cowboys and Wills. The book was written from her experiences as a mother with a son with autism who learned to deal with many of his symptoms through his connection with Cowboys, a female Golden Retriever. When Monica heard of Special Needs Network she reached out to Areva and connected instantly with her goals and missions for the organization.
Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas came by to support and had this to say: “I commend Areva for her ingenuity and passion of this issue of supporting children and families.” “Hats off to the sponsors and the team at making its mark” and being honored “to be a small part of it.”
I was able to pull Areva to the side for a few moments. She informed me how the concept of Pink Pumps came together. She was also proud to showcase the 3,000 square foot health clinic and Family Resource Center that will be opening this summer with FAME’s assistance. Areva’s passion and dedication also led her to create a Kids Camp known as JPAC for children with autism and their siblings so that they might also have a place to go to be comfortable in a space for tolerance and acceptance. The camp hosts 200 kids each summer who attend for free through generous support and donations from events like the Pink Pump Affair.
Further inquiries for a board member and Areva to return calls for futher questions were unanswered but I am sure from speaking with Areva that she is an open to being a vehicle to assist others.
To make a donation or to volunteer, please call 213.389.7100. Hopefully with further knowledge, attention and further support will come to organizations like Special Needs Network.