Since founding the local chapter, Benveniste has hosted monthly fundraisers for the organization, cooking meals for attendees at her home in Glendale, she said. But event chair and commissioner Paula Devine was quick to point out that Benveniste is as much a dancer as she is a chef.
"She is in two dance groups that perform for cancer patients and the elderly around town," Devine said. "She's overcome hardships and she keeps fighting. She keeps hope alive. That's courage."
Benveniste, who was nominated for the award by her daughter, has been a member of a tap-dancing troupe called the Ginger Snaps and another ensemble — the Singing and Dancing Dumplings — for more than 20 years.
"I'm 86 and when people see us perform, they wonder why they're sitting in that chair," Benveniste said. "It's an inspiration for someone who hasn't done anything to get up and move. The Glendale Senior Center just loves us."
Safely in remission from her bout with cancer since 2000, Benveniste said she has gotten one key piece of advice.
"The doctors just tell me, 'Whatever you're doing, keep doing it,'" she said.
Brewer, the evening's other awardee, was recognized for her accomplishments in the business world. Starting out as an entry-level car salesperson more than 20 years ago, she has advanced through the automobile dealership industry to become one of few women in the country to own a dealership, Brewer said. After 10 years at the management level, Brewer now owns Acura of Glendale on the Brand Boulevard of Cars.
"I started selling cars and three years in, I knew I wanted to own a dealership," Brewer said. "I set a goal and accomplished it."
Brewer's new goal, she said, is to inspire others to follow her lead.
"My fortune was I had an incredible mentor, so now I want to provide that to my staff," she said.
The Jewels of Glendale gala is the commission's biggest fundraiser of the year, Kerlin said.
Attendees dined on an array of foods provided by local eateries and many bid in a silent auction. Glendale resident and actress Kathy Kinny, best known for her role as "Mimi" on the Drew Carey show, was the keynote speaker.