The Coast News Group
Among the more than 180 guests at the Dec. 5 event at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club were, from left, Toni Christian, Denise Jasanevek, Trish Bugg, Yvette Letourneau and Melissa Wilkens. Proceeds benefit the charities supported by The Country Friends. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
Community Rancho Santa Fe

23rd annual Holiday Tea welcomes its most guests ever

A rainstorm didn’t dampen the holiday spirits at the 23rd annual Holiday Tea at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. The Country Friends had more than 180 guests attend the Dec. 5 event — a record-breaking number. 

Erika Horn and Helga Shulman co-chaired the event.

“This holiday tea celebrates a successful year raising funds to be distributed to local agencies in need,” Horn said. “Spread the work of our mission to friends so they have an interest in joining The Country Friends.”

As guests took their seats, a holiday trend fashion runway show featured clothing by J. McLaughlin, Icons, Jean Waters and Shanee Boutique. 

The boutiques were also vendors for the day along with Jean Waters Fine Accessories, Premier Designs Jewelry, Dr. Schwab Skin Care, Tina Frantz Designs, The Spice Way, Kendra Scott, Perfectly at Home, Plantology Design, Chic Mommy Candles, Over the Top Gifts and Handmade Local & Exotic Wood by Cam Baher.    

According to Deborah Cross, The Country Friends board president, five years ago the Holiday Tea had humble beginnings at The Consignment Shop, which lost money. Now, that’s all different. The event now boasts a profit with funds being donated to the nonprofit’s chosen charities.

Cross, whose term as president nears an end, said it was fantastic to have her last The Country Friends event of the year as president to be such a success. 

“Not only did we have record attendance, but we will also have record revenues for this event,” she said. “In these last four years as president, I have seen TCF events grow in size and revenues. Due to this, we have been able to donate more funds each year to San Diego-based human care agencies.”

Cross said serving as board president was a wonderful experience both professionally and personally.  

“I have had the benefit of having a fantastic, hard-working board of directors, that makes my job easy,” she said. “In addition to the board, I have also met so many wonderful people that support The Country Friends and our community, many who have become very close friends.” 

Cross said as president she had the unique experience of understanding the human care agencies that The Country Friends funds by working closely with them. 

“These agencies opened my eyes to the incredible work being done in our community,” she said. 

“I am so proud to be part of an organization that touches so many lives in San Diego. It has also been great to have my whole family become involved with TCF, attending events as well as working on the events – it’s such a good experience for them to understand what The Country Friends do for the community.”

At the Holiday Tea, Cross also introduced the co-chairs for the 2019 Art of Fashion slated for Sept. 12, Elaine Becerra and Erika Fetter. 

“The 2019 Art of Fashion will honor our very own Andrea Naversen,” Cross said. “Andrea has been on the board of directors for many years and has chaired the Art of Fashion twice.” 

Cross told guests to keep their eyes open in January for an invitation to the Giving Hearts Gala at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. At the Feb. 16, 2019, fundraising event to benefit The Country Friends’ Legacy Campaign, “Havana Night,” the organization will announce its annual funded agencies for 2019. The event will be emceed by co-anchor of ABC 10 Steve Atkinson. 

To learn about The Country Friends upcoming events, visit