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The Country Friends President Suzanne Newman, left, and Lauren Reynolds, co-chair of the Giving Hearts Havana Night dinner and dance slated for Feb. 16 at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
Community Community News Rancho Santa Fe

The Country Friends readies for annual Giving Hearts gala

The Country Friends will officially announce its 2019 funded charities at its Giving Hearts Havana Night dinner and dance on Feb. 16 at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club. Since its inception in 1954, the Rancho Santa Fe-based nonprofit has gifted nearly $14 million for local human care agencies.

The Giving Hearts Cuban-themed soiree will take place the Saturday night after Valentine’s day. 

Co-chairing the event are Lauren Reynolds and Luis Caranza. 

Reynolds describes the evening as the perfect timing for married and single adults to celebrate the holiday without the hustle and bustle that occurs on actual Valentine’s Day. 

“We will be celebrating Valentine’s Day and celebrating it with a heart for charity,” Reynolds said. 

Emceeing the evening will be Steve Atkinson of ABC 10 News. 

Guests will arrive at the gala with a champagne reception followed by a three-course Latin-infused dinner paired with fine wines. A Cuban performance by Ome Aché will take place during the course of the evening. 

After the 2019 chosen charities announcement, guests can salsa dance the night away. 

President for The Country Friends, Suzanne Newman, said this annual event is important on many levels. 

“While the evening is a formal announcement of the charities that we support, it’s also part of our Legacy Campaign,” Newman said. “The Legacy Campaign is designed for us to raise funds to create an Endowment Fund.”

The Legacy Campaign was created to raise a total of $1 million. The mission to apply $500,000 toward The Country Friends Consignment Shop’s construction remodel loan while the other half goes to an Endowment Fund to avoid the use of the nonprofit’s operating capital. 

So far, the construction loan has been paid down by 50 percent, and the campaign has targeted a quarter of its goal.  

“With this type of pay off, all of our funding can go towards the charities that we support,” Newman said. 

Reynolds wants people to know that Giving Hearts Havana Night is a low-key charity event — no one is raising any paddles. Instead, a paper heart will be underneath every individual plate, and each guest can choose to write in a donation on that heart to The Country Friends 

Rather than having a live auction, there will be opportunity drawings donated by the community. A handful include a one-night stay at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe with breakfast for two, a two-night stay at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club along with a $200 Marine Room gift certificate, a Max Mara large tote, Bourbon and Cigar Package, round of golf and lunch at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club, four tickets to the 2019 Taste of Rancho Santa Fe, and more. 

Event sponsors include Les and Deborah Cross, Annterese Toth and Jennifer Perkinson of Merrill Lynch, and At Home Nursing Care.  

Newman said that as a member of The Country Friends, some of their funded charities attend the dinner and dance. 

“They are so thrilled to be recognized. On this evening, we have the opportunity to introduce them to the people that support them,” Newman said. “It’s a very exciting time.”

To learn more about Giving Hearts Havana Night, visit or call (858) 756-1192.