Hearts were on display everywhere and love of a good cause was in the air Saturday at the 13th Annual Festival of Hearts benefitting the Friendship Center of Santa Barbara. Proceeds supported H.E.A.R.T. (Help Elders At Risk Today), a program subsidizing the cost of adult day services for low-income aging and dependent adults and their families.
The Friendship Center was started as a pilot project of the Community Action Commission for day care for elder adults in a small church, Friendship Baptist Church (hence the name). As the program grew, All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church offered a larger space on its Eucalyptus Lane campus in Montecito in 1979. Last year, a second center opened in Goleta, on the grounds of Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
Held in the Reagan Room at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, several hundred supporters enjoyed an afternoon of wine and refreshments and outdoor silent auction bidding on Unique Heart Art created by local artists, including celebrities Jeff Bridges and Kathy Ireland.
Although Valentine “heart” shopping was a big focus, the official theme was “fiesta,” thus the salsa-type live music by the Fiesta Five Band, aka Montecito Jazz Project. Everyone received a handmade papier mâché heart as a party favor that had been created by students of Bishop Diego, Dos Pueblos and San Marcos high schools, as well as Crane Country Day School.
A generous salad preceded the chicken luncheon served with local Curtis Winery Springtime White and Rock Hollow cabernet sauvignon. Mistress of ceremonies and auctioneer Gail Rappaport did a masterful job securing top dollar for many interesting and romantic live auction packages, including destination escapes to Palm Springs, San Francisco and Costa Rica. Auto racing legend Andy Granatelli made the generous — and successful — bid of $5,000 on “Lunch with Mayor Helene.”
Sponsors were numerous and included Nancy and Thomas Crawford Jr., HUB International Insurance Services, MarBorg Industries, Montecito Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians. Additional sponsors included Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, Louise and David Borgatello, John and Susan Hanna, Inge Gatz and Steven Gilbar, and many more.
Executive director Heidi Holly, who has been with the center nearly since its inception, donned a large black velvet Mexican sombrero to address the audience at lunch. She acknowledged the former board presidents in the room, including Chris Jones, Mary Walsh and Penny Mathison, along with longtime current president Marty Moore. Other notables in attendance included soon-to-retire Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Wallace, Santa Barbara County 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, County Clerk-Recorder Ken Holland, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, and celebrity newscaster and senior housing advocate Rona Barrett.
Friendship Center is a licensed adult day care center with the goal of providing social contact, activities, meals and supervision for the dependent adults who attend its program, and a break for their family caregivers. Friendship Center preserves and enriches the quality of life for aging and dependent adults through innovative programs that value the dignity and worth of every person. It provides respite, support and education, enabling families to continue to be engaged in their community, careers and commitments.
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