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Cooking for a Cause

by Vaun Thygerson
Staff writer and mother of three
At charity fundraisers, every time the auctioneer hollers, “Going once, going twice, and sold,” the person on the receiving end of that statement is helping to make the world a better place through charitable donations and support. Bakersfield’s reputation of generosity and giving extends to non-profit organizations where the patrons not only contribute their money but also their time and talents. KCFM features some of these private individuals who donate their cooking talents to create a magical evening for those who bid on their dinners, and in return, help out a good cause.

Dan Panero & Terry Hearron

When North Bakersfield Rotarians planned their Dinner at the Derby, a fundraising event for the Youth Connection program housed at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County, they came up with a fabulous idea – a good, old-fashioned BBQ compliments of Terry Hearron with wine supplied by Dan Panero.  This dinner for 10 was recently auctioned for $8,000 at the event.  A month later, the same dinner sold for $6,500 at Global Family’s fundraiser, Best of Bakersfield.

Terry Hearron, owner of Advanced Distribution Company and Blackhole Technologies, has hosted a charitable dinner previously for Global Family.  The first one was catered; but this time, he’s firing up the BBQ in his own backyard and grilling up a tasty menu:  filet with gorgonzola sauce and salmon with pesto sauce served with white pasta and a fresh, green salad.  And, Dan Panero will provide top-shelf wine that will complement the dinner perfectly.

As a board member of Global Family, Hearron is passionate about helping children.  Global Family’s 4th Annual Best of Bakersfield event raised more than $140,000 for children internationally as part of its Daughter Project.  This nonprofit works in Nepal, India, and Myanmar to help rescue as many children as possible who are victims of poverty, exploitation, and abuse to keep them out of the clutches of human traffickers.

Helping children both locally and internationally inspired Hearron to open his home and BBQ for charity.  “For me, it brings awareness to two things – Youth Connection is a good local connection for kids while Global Family brings awareness and gives people the opportunity to help kids internationally,” he says.  “We get to help kids, and we get to have fun in the process.”

“I believe in our events,” he says.  “I want our guests to come and enjoy the evening and leave having had a great time, great food, great friends, and great wine.”

For more information about Global Family, please visit or

Valpredo, Chance, Balfanz, & Weber Families

Spending an evening with good friends making a personal pizza cooked to perfection in a wood-fired pizza oven with a salad and cioppino soup sounds divine; and, the only thing that makes it better is when the evening also benefits a local nonprofit organization.  The Chance, Balfanz, and Weber families have done just that by donating their time and cooking talents to help Bakersfield Christian High School’s Key Event.  They also teamed up with Gino Valpredo of Luigi’s to host a pizza dinner for JJ’s Legacy.

Held at Tracey and Christy Chance’s home, these pizza nights were fun not only for the guests but for the preparers as well, with the families dividing up the shopping, preparation, and entertaining.  Tracey manned the pizza oven, and the rest served their seated guests.

“It is our desire that our guests leave with full, happy stomachs and smiles on their faces.  Also, it is super important to all of us that the guests have so much fun that they’re willing to show their support again,” says Carrie Balfanz.  “The pizza parties were a big hit.  It’s a really fun night for us, the servers, and our guests.  Christy and Tracey’s home provides a unique pizza party experience that is truly hard

to beat.”

The dinner for JJ’s Legacy served 16 people and raised between $5,000 and $10,000 for this worthwhile cause.  JJ’s Legacy, a non-profit organization, promotes awareness and education regarding the importance of organ and tissue donation and supports donor and recipient families of Kern County.  As a donor mother, Lori Malkin started JJ’s Legacy after her son Jeff Johns’ passing, and he was able to save five lives through organ donations and enhance 50 lives through tissue and cornea donations.

“The funds we received from the live auction item that the Balfanz/Chance family donated helps to go towards our PINK DOT CAMPAIGN! - Educating, bringing awareness, and inspiring our community about the importance of registering to be an organ and tissue donor,” says Malkin.  “You have the power to save lives.  Check yes at the DMV.”

For more information, please visit ;

Pounds & Bynum

Linda Pounds grew up in Brooklyn in a family that revered Italian cuisine and started navigating her way around the kitchen when she was 10 years old.  She loves the ambience of the kitchen and has the talent to feed people, so she thought, “Why not do it for charity?”

Pounds provides the cuisine and her good friends, Greg and Mary Bynum, pair the wine to complement the meal.  These families have shared donating dinners with exceptional wine for years and have helped many worthwhile causes along the way.  Their most recent collaborative charity dinner was auctioned off for North Bakersfield Rotary’s Dinner at the Derby where the proceeds helped fund the Youth Connection program housed at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County.

Over the years, their dinners have celebrated different themes including California cuisine, Italian, French, and they even once recreated the menu from Carmine’s Restaurant in New York City.  These dinners have sold for $1,500 to $8,000 depending on the event or occasion.  No matter what delicacies are served, the wine will be top of the line from the Bynums’ private collection.

“Greg and Mary love to share wine,” says Pounds. “They never hold back. They always serve the best of the best.”

A Bakersfield native, Greg Bynum enjoys giving back to a community that has been so generous to his family.  “It’s a culture that we wanted to pursue in giving back to the community,” he says. “Our community, our university, our jobs, our company have all been so good to us and we want to give back to the community that has been so supportive of us.”

Mary Bynum and Linda Pounds are particularly passionate about Youth Connection and the services this program provides to the at-risk youth of Kern County.  Dinner at the Derby is the Youth Connection’s sole fundraising event for the year.

“The funds raised at Dinner at the Derby are vital to the children that are referred to Youth Connection,” says Renee Stancil, Program Director for Youth Connection.  “Without generous and compassionate donors the auction would not be as successful. Each dollar raised from the silent and live auctions goes directly to the program.We are so grateful for such donors; without them we could not provide our services to the at-risk children in our community.”

For more information, please visit ;

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Tags: Featured Story, Food & Home, Party and Entertainment

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