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Modern-day debutantes give back

Posted: February 21, 2010 12:05 a.m.
Updated: February 21, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Silver Rose debutante Madeline Rosenberger makes calorie and nutrient dense cookies in her Valencia kitchen to feed hungry children as part of her non-profit organization The Soft Spot Foundation.

With her asymmetrical, two-toned hair, rocker clothes, and penchant for hanging out at the beach, Hart High School senior Chelsey Rader doesn’t exactly conjure up the image of a debutante.

That’s exactly what her friends told her when Rader became one of the 11 Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Guild Silver Rose debutantes for the 2009-2010 season.

“It’s something normally no one can picture me doing. Everyone I mentioned it to were like, ‘Oh my god’ and laughed,” Rader said. “But I like to try new things and it was outside my comfort zone. I like the whole community service thing.”

Established in 1985, the Silver Rose debutante program is open to high school seniors with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher and requires a commitment of 100 community service hours for Henry Mayo during the seven-month season, which opens with a presentation tea in September and culminates in March with a grand ball.

Debutantes learn a host of vital civic and social skills, such as the importance of philanthropy, volunteering time, etiquette and party planning.

Funds from the program and its events benefit Henry Mayo’s intensive care unit (ICU).

So far, Rader, who has been accepted to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles, has particularly enjoyed participating in the Guild’s annual fashion show.

The Guild’s fall fashion show is an opportunity for the debutantes to be introduced and model the latest fashions from Margo’s of Newhall.

“Being a part of that was a really fun experience,” she said.

The community service that originally attracted her to the program has sometimes been a challenge for Rader. In addition to school, family and debutante commitments, she works a part-time job at Baskin Robbins in Stevenson Ranch. “Somehow I find a way to manage it all,” Rader said.

Debutante Madelyn Rosenberger is also a busy young lady. The senior at Valencia High School started her own non-profit organization, The Soft Spot Foundation, four years ago to feed and clothe children in need across the globe. Rosenberger interns at The Signal and plans to major in journalism at La Salle University in Philadelphia.

She has been interested in becoming a debutante since her mother told her about the program when she was a young girl. Over the years she met several Silver Rose debutantes and eagerly looked forward to joining, along with her best friend, Michelle Ng.

“I wanted to become a deb because it looked like it would be so much fun and I was also really excited to help the hospital,” Rosenberger said. “All of the girls are great people and we have become closer to one another throughout our entire debutante season.”

Like Rader, Rosenberger, who lives in Valencia, was thrilled to become a fashion- show model for a day.

“It was so much fun getting our hair and makeup done and getting all dressed up. I was so nervous about having to walk out on the catwalk, but once you get out there, you simply can’t stop smiling because you realize just how much fun you’re having,” Rosenberger said.

The debutantes are taking waltz lessons with their fathers for their debut at the Grand Ball on Sunday, March 13, which Rosenberger has found to be the hardest part of the program to date.

“The basic steps are not so bad, but then we have to start twirling and weaving in and out. It can be really confusing as to whether to go left or right or what foot you should be starting with,” she said.

For Ng, a Valencia High School senior, the skills she’s learned from the debutante program will serve her well upon her departure to college, where she plans to major in biology, as well as far into the future.

“I’ve learned so much from this program. Not only have I learned about giving back to the community, but I’ve learned a lot about etiquette and manners,” Ng said. “Just a few weeks ago we were taught proper eating etiquette by a manners coach.”

In her spare time, Ng has volunteered with the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry and Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter. She also likes to swim, go to the beach and play guitar.

When she joined the Silver Rose Debutante program, her friends didn’t know what becoming a debutante meant.

“A lot of them ask me what a debutante is. I explain that we do a lot of community service, raise money, and participate in fundraising events to help the hospital,” Ng said. “I’d say a modern-day debutante is a girl who wants to give back to the community.”

For more information on the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital Guild Silver Rose debutante program or to purchase tickets for the Grand Ball on March 13, visit or call (661) 253-8051.


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