Spring was in the air on March 15th at The Help Group’s 4th Annual Teddy Bear Tea ~ An Affair of the Heart at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. This event was hosted by four remarkable women, host Jodi Tenebaum and co-hosts Julia Baumgartner, Teddi Cole & Therese Gamba. They share a commitment to children with special needs and a great spirit of philanthropy. Jodi Tenebaum, whose husband Howard serves as Help Group Board Exec. Vice Chair and Circle of Friends Board member, shared greetings with the audience, “My husband Howard and I have always had a special place in our hearts for the children of The Help Group. When you visit any of The Help Group campuses you feel such a sense of optimism and promise that you can’t help but smile…it is so wonderful to look out and see so many friends who share our commitment to the kids.”

Parent speaker Vanessa McCloud, whose 7-year-old son Harold attends The Help Group’s Sunrise School, spoke movingly about the difficulties faced by her family leading up to and during Harold’s diagnosis with autism. “As a parent, a handbook doesn’t pop out after the baby is born with ‘Here’s how to raise your child’,” she shared. “Neither my husband nor I had the experience of raising a child – let alone a child with autism.” With great pride, Vanessa shared the significant strides that Harold has made after attending Sunrise School for just one year. She spoke about the tremendous support and comfort that The Help Group gives to her family, saying, “We no longer feel alone.”

Dr. Susan L. Smalley, distinguished professor, behavioral geneticist, author, mother and founder of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, was the afternoon’s keynote speaker. Dr. Smalley shared the significant and life-changing message of her book, Fully Present: The Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness. She discussed the ways that practicing mindfulness can affect our health, happiness and even our brain structure. Dr. Smalley encouraged everyone in attendance to practice mindfulness in every moment of their lives, even when the demands of a busy, frenetic world seem to leave no time for quiet reflection. “When mindfulness becomes widespread I really, truly believe that we will create a kinder world,” Dr. Smalley said, “in the same way that The Help Group creates a kinder place for the children that attend.”

Highlighting the day’s event were two heartwarming performances from The Help Group’s Children’s Choir, whose inspiring numbers drew loud and enthusiastic applause. The lovely afternoon also featured a boutique and silent auction, where guests had a wonderful time shopping and bidding for a good cause.