It was a cool and foggy evening at the Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute’s fundraiser last Saturday at Oreana Winery in Santa Barbara, but the weather didn’t deter the more than 200 supporters attending the soiree.
The indoor/outdoor event supported the nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to making a difference through marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation, research and education to promote ocean and human health.
CIMWI (pronounced “sim-wee”) is a part of the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program under the direction of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. CIMWI is the only authorized organization to respond to and rehabilitate pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) and cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) for Ventura County.
Guests indulged in gourmet appetizers, desserts, pizza, and glasses of Oreana wine or beer from The Brewhouse. The raffle included many donations from local businesses. The talented and soulful Lois Mahalia and the Georgetown Band provided live music — everything from R&B and funk to reggae to calypso — on the outdoor parking lot turned dance floor.
Diverse supporters were in attendance — young and old, surfer to businessman, and retirees. All enjoyed donated food creations provided by Pure Joy Catering, Sojourner Cafe, Meat n’ Potatoes, Chef Stephanie, Trufflehound’s Fine Chocolates, Rincon Catering and personal chef Beth Ramone of Whisk.
Hors d’ouevres included warm bacon and goat cheese stuffed mushrooms, and garlic ginger chicken with Asian chili peanut sauce (wonderful — from Pure Joy), vegetarian pinwheels, mini Mediterranean tortas, pulled pork sliders, crispy falafel, mini pizzas, bacon-wrapped dates, endives stuffed with goat cheese, and shredded chicken with adobe chili sauce in a wonton shell with a dollop of guacamole (cowboy caviar!).
“We estimated that we raised over $10,000 at the Oreana event,” event organizer Ruth Dover said. “We are really excited about the turnout. The ticket price was reasonable at $35 and helped to attract new guests. Our goal was to create awareness and promote support of CIMWI. We have a long way to go to rehabilitate the Vista del Mar property that we were given by the Hollister family. This was the last piece of property donated by Hollister, and we want to honor the family’s legacy by fulfilling our mission and restoring the property, which was built in 1928 and abandoned in 1985.”
The Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute is located at the historic Vista Del Mar Union School in Gaviota, north of Santa Barbara. The Hollister heirs donated the property to CIMWI in 2011. The gift provided CIMWI with a permanent home. The school grounds accommodate outdoor rehabilitation enclosures with pools, while the indoor facilities include a hospital/quarantine room, laboratory, pharmacy, fish kitchen and surgery/treatment room with a plan for future research facilities, administrative offices and education space.
“The donation of the Vista Del Mar Union School property from the Hollister heirs was monumental for Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute,” said Dr. Sam Dover, executive director and chief veterinarian. “We were truly humbled by this and the opportunity to honor the Hollister legacy and preserve the property. This gift provided CIMWI the foundation to exist in perpetuity. It is with great respect for the Hollister family and the historical significance of this property that CIMWI is working to preserve and renovate the school while providing medical treatment and rehabilitative care for marine mammals in need.”
The mission of Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute is to:
» 1. Provide immediate response to displaced, injured, ill, orphaned and oiled marine mammals by trained and experienced caregivers.
» 2. Treat and rehabilitate marine mammals with the goal of releasing them back to their natural, wild environment.
» 3. Conduct research on the causes of illness and injury to marine mammals.
» 4. Educate the public on the plight of marine mammals and the impact people have on the environment to promote positive change.
» 5. Work with agencies, organizations and researchers that share our commitment to promote ocean and human health.
The CIMWI board includes Dr. Sam Dover; Ruth Dover, director of business operations; Nick Schneider, Esq., secretary, of Seed Mackall LLP; Jim Antrim, director, SeaWorld San Diego, vice president of zoological operations (retired); Fred Benko, owner and captain of Condor Express; Rick Linnehan, D.V.M., director, NASA, astronaut and veterinarian; and Jim McBain, D.V.M., director, SeaWorld Busch Gardens, vice president of corporate veterinary services (retired).