The main ingredient of the day was love as more than 200 guests basked in a lifetime of memories and appreciation of mothers, both past and present, at the Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care 11th Annual Mother’s Day Luncheon, themed “Honoring and Remembering Our Mothers,” held earlier this month at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.
Guests of the annual fundraiser enjoyed mild temperatures as attendees dressed in festive spring attire gathered on the stunning oceanside patio of the Coral Casino for a welcome reception and silent auction.
“Every year at the end of the luncheon, I think to myself it can’t possibly get any better, and every year it does,” VNHC President and CEO Lynda Tanner said. “This year will be no exception under the leadership of event co-chairs Cindy Sapienza and Janet Lew.”
Established in 1908, VNHC provides high-quality, comprehensive home health, hospice and related services necessary to promote the health and well-being of all community residents, including those unable to pay.
Staffed with more than 90 trained volunteers and dozens of physicians, VNHC is Santa Barbara’s largest provider of home health and hospice care, touching the lives of more than 5,000 Santa Barbara residents annually.
Joyous attendees mingled and bid on more than 1,000 silent items providing a range of Mother’s Day gift options, including “San Francisco Here We Come,” which featured a two-night stay at the Handlery Union Square Hotel, and “Double Your Fun in Luxury,” with one night at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, breakfast at Café Los Arcos and $100 toward dinner at Olio e Limone, plus many more packages.
Actor Jeff Bridges, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Otis “Bad” Blake in the 2009 film Crazy Heart, stood proudly beside his wife and honoree Susan Bridges, with daughters, Isabelle Boesch, Hayley Bridges and Jessie Bridges.
Bridges’ eyes were filled with love as he looked down into his arms, holding his first grandchild, 14-month-old Grace Boesch, and after placing the infant back into the arms of her mother, Isabelle, he told Noozhawk about his delight to share in this special occasion honoring his wife — the love of his life for more than three decades.
“I’m here to honor my wife, Susan, the mother of my children. I’m so blessed to be her husband, and it’s my great pleasure to honor her today,” he said. “And also her mother, Patricia, is here and it’s a chance to honor her as well as my daughter, Isabelle, who has just given us our first grandchild, Gracie. My mom and my dad are no longer here, so of course we miss them on occasions like this as we do everyday, but it’s wonderful for me to be here because I have been apart from my family quite a bit this year. I’ve done two movies back to back, and I’m currently up in Vancouver making a movie called the Seventh Sun.”
A dining bell rang several times to no avail, and then it clanged repeatedly in an effort to gather the festive group inside the Loggia Room for lunch and the program.
The lunch reception commenced with a warm welcome from Master of Ceremonies Catherine Remak, followed by Tanner, who graciously thanked and recognized key sponsors, staff, families, friends and a host of volunteers for the continuous support.
Supporters included members from Men for Moms, whose reception fundraiser held in April raised enough money to underwrite all the expenses for the day’s luncheon.
“I’d like to thank Steve Lew and Darren Osti for chairing the event,” Tanner said. “That means that all the sponsorship, ticket sales and item bids — everything — goes toward our charitable mission ensuring that no one is turned away from Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.”
Tanner also expressed her appreciation to Peter Murphy, a former Men for Moms member who passed away at Serenity House on April 28 while surrounded by family at the 18-bed hospice facility.
“While his loss is deeply felt, Peter would have been the first to say keep on playing,” she said. “So we gather today to honor two amazing women and remember with love and affection one very special man.”
Over lunch, guest speaker Frank Schipper, president and CEO of Frank Schipper Construction, paid tribute to his mother, Annie Jacoba Dooves-Schipper, a vibrant and compassionate woman who lived a long and prosperous life before passing away at age 101 in Santa Barbara in June 2011.
“Annie was an independent woman by nature,” Schipper said. “During her lifetime she lived though two world wars, lived to see the man on the moon, and saw the cures for many diseases and aliments that used to kill people, such as her parents, when she was just a teenager.”
Schipper also noted that his mother was a person of very strong ethics and convictions.
“As a youth in the Netherlands, she was active in labor movements, and during World War II, Annie and her husband, Pieter, were an active part of the Dutch resistance,” he said. “In addition, the couple accepted a Jewish family into their home for safekeeping, which endangered the lives of her of her husband and three children.”
On Dec. 14, 2000, Pieter and Annie were honored for their courage by the consulates of Israel and Netherlands and recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations.”
“Annie was predeceased by Pieter, in 1998, and is missed and forever in the hearts of her four children, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren,” Schipper said.
Next, a special dedication from Isabelle Boesch, Hayley Bridges and Jessie Bridges honored their beloved mother, Susan Bridges.
The eldest, Isabelle, approached the podium first, holding a list of memories in her hand and shared some of the 30 reasons why she loved her mother.
“One, she raised me with two of the best sisters I could ask for and I treasure the gift of sisterhood. Two, she is still very happily married to our dad. And three, she never once gave up on me when I was sick as a little kid, and she always knew that I’d overcome any illness and challenge,” Boesch said. “She was my biggest fan and told me I could be whatever I wanted to be.”
The youngest daughter, Hayley, deemed the observant one by the family, said that every day she benefits from the love and lessons that her mom has bestowed upon her and her siblings.
“I’m proud to be a daughter of a woman who fights for the causes she believes in and supports the ones she loves,” she said. “Thank you for always being there for me even if it meant sleeping on an air mattress in my room while my two broken arms healed.”
Her eyes misted over as she concluded her speech: “Mom, I love you so much I can’t believe it. You are the best person I know.”
Jessie, the rebel of the family, next told the audience that her mother is one of the most nurturing, dependable, strong-willed and loving women on the planet.
“For those of you in the room who don’t know mom, it doesn’t take very long for these qualities to shine through. When you meet her you know right away that there is something so special about this person and so engaging it’s impossible to name,” Jessie said. “My mom is that great.”
She went on to say that as a teenager she was always testing her boundaries by attempting to find new and sneaky ways to outsmart her mother, who she playfully referred to as the “gatekeeper.”
“It wasn’t until I became an adult myself that I was finally able to really value the love and dedication of a mother, my mother,” she said. “Thank you, mom, for loving me enough to put up with my obnoxious behavior. I can only hope that someday I will have an ounce of the impact on the world as you do.”
Jessie then asked her sisters to rejoin her on stage, and the group performed a playful melody written eight years ago describing the tale of their mother’s awkward undergarment mishap. And by the second chorus, the whole room was happily clapping and singing along to the lyrics.
When Susan Bridges came up to the podium to receive the “Caring Mother” award, a bronze statuette created and donated by Aris Demetrios, her face was visibly blushing and tears of love and joy brimmed over her eyes.
She quickly wiped them away to hug her daughters and then boldly addressed the audience after a round of hearty applause.
“Oh, wow, I guess you all know more about me than you thought you would!” she said. “You girls did great, sharing stories of underpants and pierced tongues, and everything. But in all honesty, I did tell my kids when they were younger that even though they were very pretty girls, to be kind, use your mind, develop your personality and to think about others. And they have grown up to be everything and more that I had hoped for.”
Bridges, an accomplished photographer, also thanked her husband, Jeff, and proudly shared that they will be celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary this June.
“We have had a wonderful adventure, and I love you so much, Jeff. We have made this beautiful family together, and it’s my greatest accomplishment,” she said. “Jeff, you have a few big accomplishments under you belt, but I’m going to say that this one probably trumps them all.”
Bridges also honored her mother, Patricia Hanson, a retired university professor who traveled from Fargo, N.D., to share the special day with her daughter.
“My mother opened up a world of reading and culture and intellect for me, and I am forever grateful for those lessons, as well as how to decorate and set a table and make a bed with hospital corners — all of which I have passed on to my daughters,” Bridges said with a smile.
Bridges also paid tribute to her mother-in-law, Dorothy Bridges, who passed away but had taught her another life lesson that she graciously shared with guests in the room.
“Dorothy taught me that life is not like a pie that you divide into so many pieces. Life is like a circle that you ever expand to include everyone, and I really took that to heart and I include you all in that circle,” she said.
In closing, Bridges said she became affiliated with VNHC after her mother became ill and Thomas Rollerson, Dream Foundation founder and president, recommended that she contact the organization for assistance.
“VNHC provided 24-hour care for my mother, and I didn’t know it, but they loaned things from their closets and it was terrific,” she said. “So I thank them for this honor, and I thank you for supporting me and I encourage you to give generously to this organization who gives back to so many people.”
VNHC graciously thanks the 11th Annual Mother’s Day Luncheon sponsors:
» Premier sponsor: Santa Barbara Bank & Trust
» Red Rose sponsors: Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree and the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation
» White Rose sponsors: Stan and Roberta Fishman, Julianna Friedman and Tom Dain / Morrie and Irma Jurkowitz, Alan Porter, Dick and Maryan Schall, the James D. Scheinfeld Family Foundation, and Melanie Trent and Richard deSchutter
» Pink Rose sponsors: Bartlett Pringle & Wolf, Brown & Brown Insurance, Casa Dorinda, Bob and Margo Feinberg, MarBorg Industries, Montecito Bank & Trust, Bobbie and Ed Rosenblatt, The Card Sharks, Chris Toomey, Venoco Inc. and the Volentine Family Foundation