Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who done it? Solving a mystery for foster programs in Kern County

Sixties-themed fundraiser benefits Aspiranet, one of the largest nonprofit adoption agencies in the State of California, nets over $4,500.

(BAKERSFIELD, CA – AUGUST 19, 2009) Marilyn Monroe didn’t do it. Nor did Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Ginger Rogers, or even The Duke.

But for one night, on July 25, these pseudo celebrities from the 1960s came together to help solve a murder mystery for Aspiranet, a nonprofit charity supporting foster children, siblings, and families through 35 core programs, including those offered in Kern County.

Kathrine Parnell, a social worker and trainer employed by Aspiranet, is no stranger to murder mystery parties. In fact, she has planned quite a few for friends and family. This however, was the first time she had planned a Hollywood murder mystery party for charity, and Aspiranet.

“It was important to come together not only to raise awareness and funds to help our local foster children and families, but to also have fun,” said Jana Davis, Assistant Regional Manager for Aspiranet.

With about 60 people in attendance dressed as characters and Hollywood celebrities from the 1960s, Parnell said it was fun to see Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Groucho Marx, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, John Wayne, and Ginger Rogers having a good time and attempting to solve the mystery of fictional victim Jerry Oilman’s murder.

Conglas Mfg. and Cecil Valenzuela as event chairs helped to make the night happen, Parnell said, along with many other co-sponsors and volunteers standing in as coat checkers, valets, bartenders, and other roles.

By the end of the evening the party had raised over $4,500 for the charity, funds that will continue to promote services to more than 160 foster children in Kern County and those associated with Aspiranet’s Sibling Connections Initiative.

The innovative initiative is dedicated to reuniting brothers and sisters and placing them together with one set of foster parents to maintain family bonds when they might otherwise be separated. Not always an easy task, Aspiranet works closely with county agencies to find loving families willing to keep displaced siblings together through often traumatic situations.

Valenzuela said he is particularly committed to Aspiranet’s Sibling Connection Initiative because it hits so close to home.

“I grew up in a large family, one of 10 children,” he said. “My wife and I had four children of our own and also raised an additional four children, all nieces and nephews under the age of 12. We did it because they were family, but most of all because we could do it.”

In the end the mystery surrounding Jerry Oilman’s pseudo death was solved, with all fingers pointing to rock guitarist extraordinaire Jimi Hendrix.

Parnell said guests were so enthusiastic about the event that she is already planning another event for next year and hopes to make it an annual fundraiser.

Headquartered in South San Francisco, the Bakersfield offices are at 2603 G Street, Suite 100. For more information or to volunteer, call (661) 323-1233 or visit

About Aspiranet
Aspiranet, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity, supports foster children, siblings and families through its 35 core programs offering specialized services through 44 satellite centers within California. Its goal is to provide love, support, and understanding while bringing families together.

Founded more than 30 years ago as a six-bed group home for young boys in Moss Beach, CA, Aspiranet has evolved to become one of the most diverse private adoption agencies in California with a statewide network of innovative services that have touched the lives of over 10,000 families and children since its founding.

Aspiranet’s vision of bringing families together and helping foster children, siblings and parents thrive is realized through more than 35 core programs and services in six areas of expertise – Family Services, Adoption, Foster Care, Education, Afterschool programs and Community partnerships.

Day after day, the dedication, commitment, efforts, and renewed aspirations of the Aspiranet team make a profound difference in the lives of children and families throughout California. We invite volunteers and sponsors to gift time, money, or partnering to provide hope to children and families in need.

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