“Casual” stars Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey hosted the Help Group’s 18th Annual Teddy Bear Ball on Wednesday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The Help Group, founded in 1975, helps children and young adults with special needs that are related to autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges.
The night kicked off with a performance from former “The Temptations” singer Louis Price and the Help Group children’s choir, who sang a few Christmas and Hanukkah melodies including “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
Senior vice president of the Help Group and licensed clinical social worker Tom Komp and Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins were the night’s honorees, receiving the Champion for Children Award and the Help Humanitarian Award, respectively.
Watkins and Dewey acknowledged the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s support for the Help Group through the company’s annual holiday campaign, “Deck the Walls.” “Thank you to the entire Coffee Bean (team), not only for providing a very safe haven for screenwriters to peruse Facebook and question their life decisions, but also for your year-round commitment to the Help Group,” Watkins joked.
Komp expressed gratitude for his career with the Help Group and his supportive family and friends. “There are several things I could never have predicted when, 23 years ago, I took the job here at the Help Group,” Komp said. “I could never have predicted the Help Group would grow from 185 students on one campus in 1992 to over 1,600 students on six campuses in 2015. … And in a totally different vein, that I would periodically have parents come up to me and say things like, ‘Tom, I just want you to know how well our child is doing in your school. For the first time in his life, he has friends.’”
A recipient of the Help Group’s Dr. Adam Opportunity Fund and high school student at one of the Help Group’s schools, Ashley, spoke about her life-changing experience with the organization. Ashley, who was once homeless and faces emotional distress issues, was able to stay in school through her ninth month of pregnancy and is now on track to receive her high school diploma in May. “When I started, everyone was so nice and had such good spirit(s),” she said. “I remember thinking to myself that it felt like the program was built specifically for me.”
Executive vice president of Time Inc. Rich Battista introduced Hopkins, pointing out that Hopkins illustrates that nice guys don’t always finish last. “Mike debunks the myth, especially in this town, that nice guys can also be highly respected, tough, smart, steadfast and tenacious, and still come out on top,” Battista said.
Hopkins expressed gratitude for receiving the Help Humanitarian Award, but emphasized that he didn’t really feel worthy of the recognition. “When I think of a humanitarian, it usually is not someone like me — someone who toils away every day really working hard trying to get people to watch more television. You know, God’s work,” Hopkins joked. He had even more reason to celebrate Thursday as Hulu earned a Golden Globe nomination for its comedy “Casual.”
The Teddy Bear Ball ended with an encore performance from Price and the children’s choir.
(Pictured: Tommy Dewey, Sheri Hopkins, Mike Hopkins and Michaela Watkins at The Teddy Bear Ball)