This community nonprofit organization is raising funds to build a permanent and public ice skating arena on donated land at Girsh Park in Goleta. The gifts received from Waitt, Djernaes and the Kind World Foundation include the naming rights for the junior rink scoreboard and five VIP spectator seats.
Waitt is a businessman and co-founder of Gateway computers, and is involved in various other ventures. He is also founder of the Kind World Foundation, anonprofit organization that supports performing arts, the environment, health and human services, and education and scholarship programs in Southern California, the Southwest and the Midwest.
Kind World also funds international programs that seek innovative solutions to solving global health challenges with a particular focus on providing clean drinking water to communities in the developing world and supporting women’s economic empowerment.
Djernaes is a Santa Barbara native and an employment attorney with experience in juvenile justice and concern for at-risk youths, having worked as a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo County’s child protective services division early in her career.
“I saw the difference for children between having opportunities and lacking access to any,” she said. “It is stark and, for me, was a wake-up call to help reduce that gap.”
As Santa Barbara-area residents raising children locally, Waitt and Djernaes recognize the need for accessible recreational outlets in the Santa Barbara region and the benefits offered by the ice skating project. They discussed the idea and decided to become involved.
“It’s a good thing for Californians on the coast to have because there are no outdoor skating rinks like in my hometown of Sioux City, Iowa,” Waitt said. “It’s a wonderful outlet for kids.”
“Both Norm and I are excited about giving and being involved in the project,” said Djernaes, who recently joined the board of directors of GSBISA to help with fundraising and planning for the facility. “Public resources can only go so far to serve our community. More can always be done.”
Djernaes grew up in Santa Barbara and remembers skating at the Ice Patch on the Mesa as a child. She has two children, Sophia, 11, and Torben, 7, who are learning to skate at an Oxnard rink when they can drive the distance.
“I love the idea of an ice rink returning to my hometown,” Djernaes said. “Local kids from all walks of life would greatly benefit from after-school and weekend programs at the skate rink, where they can develop personal skills, mastery and overall confidence they can take with them anywhere in life. It’s really a fantastic idea.”
The Ice in Paradise campaign now has more than $3 million in contributions, and is able to start the design-build bidding phase. Interest in the project is rapidly increasing, and there are still several attractive giving opportunities available, including building naming rights.
“It’s wonderful to receive these generous gifts that help move the Ice in Paradise campaign forward significantly,” said GSBISA president Kathy Mintzer. “We’re also very pleased to have someone with Christina’s background and experience working with us as a board member.”
— Ada Conner is the capital campaign director for the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association.