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Lights, Camera, Community Action!

Real estate executive Dale Camera is on the cusp of closing his biggest deal of the year—a life-changing event that will broker better futures for Orange County youth.

Dale Camera

Unmotivated, unfocused—it’s tough to believe, but Dale Camera once used those unflattering terms to describe himself. During his formative years, the now 30-something, tall and Prince Charmingly handsome dealmaker’s life was uprooted when his parents split. He bounced back and forth from coast to coast. Those were challenging times, but thanks to a loving, supportive and later reunited family (and a stern talking-to from his father one day), he wised up and got on the right path. Now he’s a senior vice president and partner at Newport Beach’s Lee & Associates, the fourth largest commercial real estate firm in the country. It’s his personal experience of adversity, Camera says, that influenced his decision to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County: “How could I not go back and help kids who were in a similar situation that I was in, and in most cases, much worse?”

After about five years of volunteering, Camera decided to take a closer look at ways he could better serve his community. He found it as co-chairman of the organization’s 49th annual Gourmet Dinner. Set for Oct. 24 at the Balboa Bay Resort, it’s the charity’s longest-running and biggest fundraiser of the year. He and co-chairman Joe McNight face some stiff competition from fetes like CASA’s Black and White Ball and Harvesters’ annual showstopper Fashion Show and Luncheon, but they’ve got Sinatra—well, sort of. Camera’s turning things up a notch with this year’s Rat Pack theme. There will likely be some Sammy Davis Jr. playing in the background and plenty of cigars. “One of my favorite aspects of the evening is catching up and socializing with friends who support the cause,” Camera notes. “It’s a great night and a lot of fun.”
But the night isn’t just about levity. With the future of O.C.’s at-risk kids on the line and more than 200 on the nonprof’s mentor waitlist, Camera is upping the fundraising ante with a high-stakes goal of $1 million. That’s a “stretch goal,” but he feels confident that his colleagues and friends will step up. His most important role that night? Making “the ask.” He hopes his story will compel people to open their wallets and sign up on the spot to become mentors. “It’s definitely helped with accountability in my life and staying grounded,” he says. Except this month, he wants O.C. to come fly with him.