For the last 22 years, Steel Magnolias have been known for their innovative and exciting fundraising events. From their signature gala that boasts a wildly creative theme each year, to their home tour, which displays some of the most extravagant and beautiful homes in Long Beach, Steel Magnolias’ fundraisers are often the social event of the season!

But in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, their event planning came to a screeching halt. This group, known for their creativity, wasn’t going to let a global pandemic stop them from achieving their mission of raising funds to benefit children with developmental delays and disabilities, behavioral and learning challenges and other special needs.

Steel Magnolias is an all-volunteer organization. Since its formation in 1999, Steel Magnolias has donated more than $5.7 million to its main recipient, the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.

“When the pandemic began, we had to be physically distant, but we wanted to keep our members connected,” says Denise Dalhausen, president, Steel Magnolias. “Even though it was hard, we were able to continue meeting and planning on Zoom and even stayed socially connected through small virtual outings.”

They leveraged the city-wide, 24-hour fundraising initiative, Long Beach Gives, to mobilize their existing supporters and gain exposure among the larger philanthropic community. Through these virtual efforts, Steel Magnolias raised $59,500 to support the Stramski Center. 

Each year, the Stramski Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach treats more than 4,000 children with serious, often life-long, medical conditions, such as autism, Fragile X, ADHD/ADD, Down Syndrome, learning disabilities, behavioral sleep conditions, craniofacial abnormalities and cleft lip and palate.

“I’m always touched by the unwavering support the Steel Magnolias have shown us over the years, but the dedication they showed to our patients and families even in the face of so many unprecedented challenges is incredible,” says Gary Feldman, M.D., medical director, Stramski Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. 

Steel Magnolias contributed $140,000 in 2020, matching their pre-pandemic 2019 contribution. As the pandemic slowly ends, Steel Magnolias plan to bring back in-person events. Currently, they are planning an antique car collection event on August 15 and will be hosting their annual golf tournament on October 25.

With the events lined up for the remainder of the year, Steel Magnolias plan to utilize their extra time in the fall for planning, in hopes to reintroduce their signature event for May 2022.

“Their creativity, dedication and positive attitude as a group is inspiring and aligns beautifully with our the goals of our Center,” says Ioana Pal, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist, Stramski Center. “From toys to great fundraising ideas, we are grateful for the Steel Magnolias.”

With the commitment of their members, Steel Magnolias will continue to contribute as much as they can to Stramski Center and to make every event meaningful in order to make a difference in a challenged child’s life.