Faith is key by Lee Hershfield


lees story

Chelsea Gunn, Courtney Burg, and Angel Nelson


Plush furnishings, rich woods and wafting waves of cigar smoke drifting from the patio of Old Palm Golf Club welcomed supporters of The Open Door on a breezy November evening in Palm Beach Gardens. The Open Door, a faith-based organization providing Christian mentors for teen mothers, raised funds and heightened awareness at its Unlock the Future Soiree.

Deana Cerniglia, founder of The Open Door, was raised by a teenage mother and understands well the travails and challenges of teen motherhood. “These girls need to finish their education and become independent,” she said. “We want to give them the skills to do that.”

An overarching tenet of The Open Door’s philosophy is the belief that the cycle of teen pregnancy must be addressed two generations at a time. “Each mother has to sign a contract that states she will finish her education, work, delay further pregnancies and participate in life skill classes,” explained Cerniglia.

The casual, Tommy Bahama-style evening, chaired by Jon and Linda Drettmann, featured wine and hors d’oeuvres inside the club. As guests sauntered onto the veranda, they were feted to the pungent aromas of handmade cigars that were rolled for them on the spot by Mya Handmade Cigars of West Palm Beach. A live auction featuring a Costa Rican fishing trip valued at $12,000 and a Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, vacation at the Monte Cristo Home & Resort burnished the evening’s fundraising goals. Supporters of The Open Door meandered around gift-laden tables placing bids on their favorite treasures throughout the evening’s silent auction.

Committee chairs for the soiree were Ellen Hobbs, Linda Drettmann, Stacy Nelson, Angel Nelson and Jazz Jules. Palm-tree-shaped vanilla cookies were a delicious departing treat for the guests.

The Open Door is affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church in North Palm Beach. For information about The Open Door, please visit their website at or call (561) 329-2191.

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