Volume 8, Issue 76  |  September 22, 2023SubscribeAdvertise

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Human Options’ 2021 Serious Fun Gala goes virtual, honors Newport Coast residents

Human Options is going virtual this year for its “A Whimsical Evening in the Enchanted Forest” annual Serious Fun Gala on Saturday, May 22 from 7-8 p.m. The evening will celebrate DOVE Award honorees Michele I. and Abdo Khoury, and aims to raise $375,000 through sponsorships and donations.

All funds raised will go toward Human Options’ various programs, including its emergency shelter, crisis hotline, transitional housing program, counseling, legal advocacy, children’s therapy, elder abuse prevention and prevention education programs in the community.

“After over a year of incredible hardship for so many, we’re thrilled to move forward with our annual gala, albeit virtually, and we’re proud to honor Michele and Abdo with our DOVE Award,” said Human Options CEO Maricela Rios-Faust. “Our mission of ending the cycle of domestic violence resonated with Michele, a supporter of Human Options for almost two decades. She is also an author who just finished writing her newest fiction book which sheds a light on the cycle of abuse that happens all too often behind closed doors. As we continue to advocate for those affected by abuse and educating our community in recognizing relationship violence as an issue that threatens everyone, we’re grateful to recognize Michele and Abdo for supporting our cause.”

Human Options Michele and Abdo

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DOVE Award honorees, Michele and Abdo Khoury

Michele, a resident of Newport Coast, has served on the Human Options board for nine years and has supported the organization for nearly 20 years. Abdo, a retired chief financial officer, served on the finance committee for several years. A survivor of domestic violence herself, Michele transitioned from her consulting business of 20 years, Enterprise Selling International, Inc., to pursue her dream of becoming a women’s mainstream fiction author. Her debut novel, Busted, focused on cocaine and its abuse, is an international bestseller and won the 2018 Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal; her second book, The Sheriff’s Wife, targeted for release in 2022, covers the subject of intimate partner abuse and family violence.

The funds raised at this year’s event are more important than ever as rates of relationship violence have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. With stay-at-home mandates, financial stress of unemployment, school closures and more, victims have been separated from the people and resources they need most. A recent study shows domestic violence incidents spiked more than 8 percent nationwide following the lockdown orders, which were intended to help curb the spread of COVID-19, according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice.

Last year, Human Options reached more than 8,000 community members through education and prevention, provided nearly 500 individuals and families with a safe home through the emergency shelter and transitional housing program, served more than 1,400 individuals through community-based programs, and responded to more than 4,800 callers providing immediate crisis support, information and referrals through the 24-hour hotline.

To purchase your tickets or become a Serious Fun 2021 Gala sponsor, click here.

For additional questions about the event and sponsorship details, contact Katie Szymczak at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 949.737.5242, ext. 317. To make a direct donation to Human Options online, click here.

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