A local organization that helps young adults find jobs honored Henry Segerstrom at its annual fund-raiser on Thursday night.
Youth Employment Services’ 30th annual Roman Feast and Silent Auction drew hundreds from the Newport-Mesa area.
President David Calderon said the organization chose Segerstrom, managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, which manages South Coast Plaza, because he has “been the pillar of the local community.”
“He is a patron of the arts and a benefactor of the community,” Calderon said. “We wanted to pick someone who is almost synonymous with Costa Mesa.”
The Charles John Segerstrom family came to Orange County from Sweden in 1898. They started off by growing lima beans in 20 acres of leased land. Over the last 50 years, C.J. Segerstrom & Sons has developed the family’s land into one of the largest retail and entertainment hubs in the nation.
Accepting the honor Thursday, Segerstrom said he and his family are proud of what they have been able to accomplish in Costa Mesa.
“To be recognized in your own community is the greatest recognition you can ever get,” he said.
South Coast Plaza does business in excess of $1 billion, Segerstrom said.
“And it all benefits Costa Mesa,” he said.
Joseph Warren, captain of the riverboat Angela Louise, said the Segerstrom family has made tremendous contributions to the area.
“Without them, this community wouldn’t exist,” he said.
Over the last year, YES has provided jobs for about 1,500 young people, board member Richard Watts said.
“Our mission is to help young people with everything from building a resume to helping them acquire the necessary skills to secure a job,” he said.
Calderon said the challenge over the last year has been “to stay afloat.”
“These are tough times,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our grass-roots support so we can help the kids get jobs and help build up their self-esteem.”