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“We get our sense of self from our careers,” Fred Savage recently told a packed house of A-Listers that included Queen Latifah, Eric Dane, Rebecca Gayheart-Dane, Selma Blair, Russell Simmons and Rachel Zoe.
The former Wonder Years star turned director was MC’ing the 15th annual Butterfly Ball, a Mandeville Canyon gala that brings together 650 of TV, film and music’s biggest stars and industry insiders to raise money for Chrysalis, an LA-based nonprofit dedicated to empowering homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment.
Since its inception in 2002, the Chrysalis Butterfly Ball has raised more than $13 million to directly fund Chrysalis programs and services. Rather than offer a hand out, Chrysalis believes in offering a hand up, enabling their clients to earn back their dignity and sense of self-worth through the self-sufficiency of employment.
This year’s client honoree was Kellie Williams, who received the John Dillon Award in recognition of her journey overcoming barriers and obtaining employment. She was joined by industry honorees Queen Latifah, Brian Robbins (Founder & CEO of AwesomenessTV), and Hank Steinberg (Creator & Executive Producer of “The Last Ship” and “Without a Trace”), who each received the Spirit of Chrysalis Award.
Like many Chrysalis clients, Kellie’s challenges were rooted in poverty and a lack of opportunities. After growing up in a broken home in South LA, she turned to drugs and later prostitution, a life that didn’t allow her to care for her young daughter Danielle. Kellie soon became the victim of sexual violence and found herself in and out of prison.
Finally, she realized something needed to change.
Which is why she reached out to Chrysalis. Through one-on-one relationships with their case managers, Chrysalis clients are given the guidance and tools to enact real change in their own lives.
“Chrysalis helps remove barriers to employment by offering a variety of classes and supportive services to help individuals get ready for a job, find a job, and keep a job” says Chrysalis President and CEO Mark Loranger. “We believe that a steady job is a key step in a person’s transition out of poverty and onto the pathway to self-sufficiency.”
Kellie’s case manager was struck by her client’s unwavering willingness to work and better herself. Today, Kellie is sober, works full-time at The Giving Keys, has found her own community and has rekindled her relationship with her daughter Danielle.
“The best thing about my life right now is my daughter Danielle,” says a tearful Kellie. “To have her forgive me despite everything I’ve done. To forgive me, to still call me mom, to love me like no other is the best thing ever.”
Kellie was—without a doubt—the belle of the Butterfly Ball. Alongside other red carpet guests, she danced to a closing night performance by LA indie-pop group PHASES, grateful for her second chance at a new life.
From the stage, Queen Latifah summed up the evening — and Chrysalis’ mission — beautifully, “We are the embodiment of second chances. We are the embodiment of hope. Of dreams.”