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ETTA Honors Smashbox Co-Founder Davis Factor At 2014 Annual Gala

November 12, 2014, Beverly Hills. ETTA proudly celebrated their Annual Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel hosted by TV personality, Adrianna Costa. The evening featured a cocktail reception, dinner, special performance by opera singer Carlos De Antonis and awards honoring several notables for their contributions to the community. Among them were Angie and Moise Hendeles, as well as the ETTA Youth Board, who received the Hendeles Young Leadership Award presented by Avi Heyman. This young group of high school leaders is organizing events, creating community, and actively raising money for ETTA. During the reception, numerous local and state elected official expressed their admiration for what this organization, founded in 1993, has accomplished in the last 21 years.

West Hollywood City Councilmember, Jeff Prang, mentioned the numerous social services the City of West Hollywood has developed and the importance of providing housing for special needs. California State Assemblymember Elect, Ben Allen, said “These are issues I care a great deal about. At the Santa Monica & Malibu School District where I serve, we have many special needs and, with the recession, we have suffered budget cuts. It’s time to go to Sacramento to change that”. California State Assemblymember, Richard Bloom, whose parents were part of ETTA’s growth, congratulated the honorees and everyone for participating in this organization. LA City Controller, Ron Galperin, said, “The Jewish community is so renown for welcoming everyone, and for the tradition of giving back. It’s fantastic that ETTA is making sure people with disabilities can be a part of the community.”

The gala also paid special tribute to Frances and Rabbi Hyman Agress. One of their sons, Stephen Agress, spoke to the guests, “55 years ago, my brother Michael was born. Then if you were different you were retarded. The social stigma was huge. My father was advocating with the board of education on the phone late at night. My parents had no role models, but they saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and were asking for the right education for my brother to flourish.” Frances Agress also addressed the audience, “We were told our son should be sent to an institution and forgotten about. We realized how he reacted when he listened to music and he taught himself to read. Thankfully the world of those with disabilities has drastically changed. ETTA provides entire adult life. They never give up, and neither did we.”

ETTA Executive Director, Michael B. Held, Ph.D., talked about ETTA’s accomplishments and new challenges, “Autism for instance is growing exponentially. Today 1 in 68 children is autistic, up from 1 in 88 last year. The world of special needs has exploded.” Last year the ETTA Israel Center joined forces with New York organization OHEL Children’s and Family Services. Their approach is that every person has equal worth. Despite their customers have no money, they treat them equality. “We want to transform challenges into opportunities”, Michael said. Then he introduced a short movie on ETTA, by Sarah Weintraub, Nate Goodman and Brian Ross.

Davis Factor, great-grandson of cosmetic legend Max Factor and co-founder of Smashbox Studios and Cosmetics, received the Visionary Award. He was introduced by ETTA’s Advisory Board Chairman, Michael Baruch, last year recipient of the Visionary Award, who has raised nearly $1 million to help ETTA housing 200 clients by 2020. Factor talked about his visit to one of ETTA’s houses, “I got to hang out with them and they are just like us, but different. They just need a little bit of help. The houses are so normal, it feels like a college dormitory experience… that’s what’s is so weird about it. People there said they liked living here. One of them told me he wanted to lose weight. I asked him why and he answered: ‘there are girls here, you know?’”. Factor signed a check for ETTA on the stage, as he encouraged all the guests to make their donation at the end of the gala.

Celebrities and V.I.P. guests included: Adrianna Costa, Davis Factor, Lauren Potter (Glee), Jackie Lacey (LA District Attorney), Lawrence Bender (Producer), Rob Weiss (Producer), Richard Bloom (California State Assemblymember), Eric Bauman (LACDP/CDP), Bob Blumenfield (LA City Council), Mitch O’Farrell (LA City Council), Jeff Prang (West Hollywood City Councilmember), Ron Galperin (LA City Controller), Ben Allen (California State Assemblymember Elect), Eric C. Bauman (Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party), and many others.

ETTA, founded in 1993 in Los Angeles, California, is the only organization in Los Angeles that provides a full spectrum of services for Jewish adults with special needs. ETTA serves people with developmental disabilities and their families, and is one of the premier providers of such services on the West Coast. ETTA provides a full spectrum of services including residential housing, case management, employment training and placement, educational services and social services. ETTA’s mission is to provide programs and services that enable people with special needs, and the families who love them, to live fully enriched and active lives as members of the Los Angeles community. We enable people with disabilities to achieve greater independence, autonomy and inclusion. We change mindsets, raise awareness, increase sensitivity and provide inspiration. We elevate lives and train leaders. We are a community of hope, warmth, support and expertise. For more information please visit www.ETTA.org or follow on Twitter @ETTAOrg, Instagram @ETTA_org or visit Facebook.com/ETTAOrg