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Roses in the rain

Posted: March 13, 2008 12:38 a.m.
Updated: May 14, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Mother's Day came early to 14 Santa Clarita Valley women, as they were given special tributes by their daughters at the 22nd annual Henry Mayo Guild Silver Rose Guide Debutantes Tea at the Newhall home of Sondra Paskach on Feb. 24.

There were drops of rain falling from the sky and, under the white tent, teardrops - which started almost immediately as the first debutante, Charlotte Boon of Los Angeles Lutheran High School, presented her mother with a collage and read a poem that recounted their time together from birth through high school.

Music played a theme in two presentations. Tatianna McBride, a senior at Alemany High School, read a poem before cueing up Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely," for her mother Giovanna. The elder McBride had played the song, her favorite, throughout her pregnancy with Tatiana, as she wished for a girl.

Canyon High School senior Shawnie Wise-Hawkins took it a step further, reading the lyrics to "Wind Beneath My Wings" to her mother, Sunny, before playing it on the saxophone to the impressed crowd.

"I always tell the mothers to bring lots of tissues and wear waterproof mascara, because it gets very emotional," said Henry Mayo Guild Silver Rose Debutante president Virginia Hart.

Sure enough, the audience could be seen dabbing at their eyes with pink napkins throughout the presentation.

The mother-daughter tea is a tradition that precedes the debutantes' final event of the season, the Silver Rose Ball, which pays tribute to fathers.

Inside the tent at Paskach's home, approximately 60 women, including debutantes and their mothers, guild members and Henry Mayo staff, enjoyed a light luncheon of tasty finger sandwiches served by the Silver Rose Junior Debutantes - as well as live harp music and camaraderie.

Henry Mayo Guild's Silver Rose Debutante Program was established in 1985, with seniors in high school and college freshman eligible to participate (juniors in high school may participate in the guild's junior debutante program).

Participation involves a minimum 2.5 GPA, 50 hours of community service, etiquette education, planning and attending of social events, as well as attending and volunteering at hospital fundraisers, which benefit laboratory services at Henry Mayo.

So far, Echo Hampel is pleased with what her daughter, Hart High senior Dominique Picker-Lombardo, has acquired from her season as a debutante.

"She gets to appreciate things like etiquette, volunteering, and planning. She's learning decision making and I'm here to support her," Hampel said. "Dominique's already told me, 'Mom, I'm so glad you got me involved with the debs. I've grown.' I've grown, too, as a result."

Picker-Lombardo surprised her mother with a weekend getaway during her tribute, while Desiree Gravel gave her mother, Mary Ellen, the last family Christmas portrait they had taken together, a tradition the teen once found "kind of dorky," but now appreciated as a symbol of familial unity.

"It won't happen again next year, since I'll be at college. I'm going to miss that," Gravel said.

Into adult life
Mary Ellen Gravel will also miss her daughter, but feels the debutante program has given Desiree a positive head start.

"She's become more involved in community service, has learned proper etiquette and how to be a part of a group. Hopefully, Desiree will take this experience into her adult life and continue to give back to her community, wherever she is," she said.

The 2008 class of Silver Rose Debutantes also includes Chantalle Alexandrea Maria Barritt, Rachel Cox, and Kiara Lin Price of Valencia High, Nicole Marie Bergantino and Kimberly Nicole Hedman of Hart High, Stephanie Stein of Canyon High, Jillian Rose Tuso of West Ranch High, Ashley King of Santa Clarita Christian School, and Nicole Alicia Ryan, who is home-schooled.

How to get involved
* For more information about the Henry Mayo Guild Silver Rose Debutante Program, contact the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Health Foundation at (661) 253-8082 or visit


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