Saturday, December 1, 2012

Something to Be Thankful For: The San Francisco Social

Founder Anderson Pugash cheers on Chair Kelly Landers Boyton as she addresses the crowd. 

We just finished the holiday of Thanksgiving, a day we set aside to show gratitude for all that has been provided to us during the year in the company of our close friends and loved ones. Thanksgiving is not just for our parents or our grandparents, but a day when we young people can give thanks for the good fortune and privileges that have been offered to us as well.  You might be asking yourself, "how can I give back for all the opportunities that have been given to?" One young man asked himself just that, Anderson Pugash, founder of the San Francisco Social.

Anderson Pugash the twenty-seven year old philanthropist created the San Francisco Social to honor his father.
Anderson, or Andy as some close friends call him, was not always as concerned with charity and giving back. Upon his late-father's unexpected battle with pancreatic cancer, Anderson became more concerned about the kind of life he was leading. His father and mentor, James Pugash,  had made a life-long commitment to the support of charitable organizations. "At the time, I couldn’t say the same for myself." writes the young Pugash in his Letter from the Founder "I always thought that I could give back later on, but I abruptly realized that this was not the way to live my life. As I searched for a way to move on, I eventually came upon the idea of the San Francisco Social.

The San Francisco Social Board raised over 75,000 dollars for the Larkin Street Youth Foundation this year. 

The San Francisco Social is an annual fundraiser that brings together an engaging young adult audience to support and become involved with important Bay Area causes. The event began seven years ago, benefitting the Sonoma Jazz+ Festival and today has hundreds of loyal followers and a track record of raising tens of thousands of dollars. Central to its mission, the event changes its beneficiary every two years to distribute financial support and awareness to a variety of deserving art, education, and service charities. The first beneficiary of the Social was the Sonoma Jazz+ Festival, a cause championed by Anderson's father James Pugash before his death. Past host-committee member Trevor Traina inspired Anderson to choose the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco as the second beneficiary. Last year, the nonprofit raised $60,000 for KIPP Bay Area Schools.

This year's beneficiary was the Larkin Street Youth Foundation. Pugash states "The San Francisco Social is inspiring a new generation of young philanthropists who will be critical in supporting our community for decades to come. Larkin Street Youth Services combines comprehensive solutions, dedicated management, and transparent governance to produce extraordinary results that help homeless and runaway youth exit street life for good. These young people were dealt a bad hand, and most have slipped through or fallen outside of the system; we are proud to help Larkin Street in their efforts to give them the opportunity for a brighter future.”

Pugash and Landers Boynton photographed in front of the step-and-repeat. SFGate writer Beth Spotswood accurately describes Kelly as "Pippa Middleton-esque".

How does San Francisco Social choose its worthy causes? Chair Kelly Landers Boynton states "The SFS board votes on the charity we will support for the next two years. Many deserving organizations pitch us, in fact, the top four charities we are interested in possibly partnering with us, come in and actually pitch us for 30 minutes each, then the board votes after seeing the final four presentations. We make our decision then. It is always a very difficult decision because we would like to support and help everyone. But to be effective, we need to focus on one charity, for two years, at a time."  The board consists of "dynamic tastemakers and leaders of our age group"  and ages range from 24 to some in their 30's. This group includes a  filmmaker, campaign manager, a reality show cast member (Kim Taylor of Bravo's Start-ups: Silicon Valley), an Amazing Race winner (Starr Spangler), and members of the hedge fund, high-tech, communications, and nonprofit worlds. Through the San Francisco Social, young leaders and their friends get together to impact their community and enjoy a memorable evening. 

A memorable evening it was, as approximately 500 young adults from San Francisco and surrounding areas came together in the Fairmont's Gold Room to show their commitment to Larkin Street and its programs and raise over 75,000 dollars for the cause.  While VIPs attended a dinner hosted at Wayfare Tavern, they traveled by limo to their Nob Hill destination to join the rest of us commoners on the dance floor.  The room sparkled as many of the girls wore this season's sequined dress styles and the young attractive men wore expensive suits and sipped their whiskey.   The benefit featured an exciting and filled dance floor, a cocktail hour, silent auction, a live band, hors d’ouevres, a live collage mural by Derek Gores, Benefit Make-up and Tipsy Pig sponsored gift bags, as well as an after-party at  Tavern Aventine. 

The San Francisco Social is revolutionizing the way young people participate in charity. “We want to add to the philanthropy conversation in an online, social-media savvy way that will help charities in marketing to our younger demographic,” says Anderson. The event ushers in the new crowd of San Francisco socialites, and is sure to continue to increase its popularity and outreach in the years to come.

The live band plays as the bass and drums rumble and shake the Fairmont's Gold Room.

Left, (Me) Camille Rose Schmidt, Priya Saiprasad, and Eileen Chou

Bravo-Personality Kim Taylor chats with a friend

(L) Jenny Maier, Megan White, Preston O'Connell, and Casan Van Langen enjoy the evening.

Spinsters Auxiliary Chair Katie Hansen with Spinster and San Francisco Social Board Member Amanda Coffee pose with a few of the many dapper men at the event.

Artist Derek Gores works on his live collage mural throughout the event.

Cooper Helfet (Center) shows off his moves on the dance floor as Julia Vitaro, Kaitlyn Landers  and Nick Price look on.
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(Images Courtesy of Drew Altizer Photography)

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