The warm afternoon sun provided a welcoming environment for guests of the Angels Bearing Gifts Ladies Tea fundraiser last Saturday at a historic home on the Upper East Side of Santa Barbara.
Visitors were spellbound as they passed through the decorative wrought iron gates and gazed at the opalescent three-level house fashioned with elegant rows of white pillars along the veranda of the historic Craftsman and Bay Region-style home, christened “Almenara” by Antonia Marin in 1904.
Many guests also paused to admire the lushly landscaped property and tranquil sound of water flowing from the courtyard fountain.
Young girls adorned in colorful dresses dashed about the expanse of lawn that led to the rear of the residence accompanied by adults in wide-brim sun hats and flowing sundresses.
In back, the organic garden, partially shaded and dappled by 60-foot Cyprus and palm trees, bustled with the sounds of musicians Doug Giordani, who donated his time on guitar, and Tom Hess on bongos, a developmentally disabled adult who benefits from Angels Bearing Gifts.
An assemblage of arts and crafts tables was arranged for the children’s enjoyment under the cool grotto of damp shrubs and Epiphytic cactus.
A host of volunteers assisted children with beading necklaces and face painting while other tables displayed photos of Angels Bearing Gifts recipients and a selection of colorful drawings, postcards and beaded jewelry created by the beneficiaries who attend adult day programs sponsored by UCP Work Inc. and People Creating Success.
Meanwhile, models dressed in 1960s attire inspired by the late Jacqueline Kennedy strolled across the grounds modeling an array of vintage shift dresses, white gloves, pearls, simple pea coats with big buttons, quilted purses and pill box hats from Paris Street Boutique.
Guests mingled on the sun-drenched lawn or sauntered over to the breathtaking butterfly garden bursting with a rainbow of roses and sage in full bloom.
Tea commenced promptly at 3:45 p.m., and the group found relief from the warm afternoon rays under large lavender umbrellas with matching tablecloths adorned with floral centerpieces of Yves Piaget roses, mauve hydrangeas and passionflower vines donated by TOAST Events.
Angels Bearing Gifts board members dressed in floral aprons held antique teapots and served guests who dined on delicious cucumber cream cheese, olive Tapenade or avocado sandwiches, and homemade scones made by board members of Angels Bearing Gifts and supplied by Trader Joe’s.
Co-chairs Meredith Catalini and Linda Cowen addressed the crowd, and Cowen thanked the volunteers and praised the host, Lynn Montgomery, who opened her historic home and spacious gardens for the charity event.
Catalini explained that the nonprofit organization was founded 10 years ago by Evelyn Smith to provide holiday gifts to adults with developmental disabilities.
“Last year, ABG provided presents to 200 disadvantaged adults in Santa Barbara County who don’t have a family or support system and usually spend the holidays by themselves,” Catalini said. “Our staff, volunteers and generous supporters act as their angels and serve as a reminder that they are never alone.”
Later, board member Joe Boris offered raffle tickets, and winners received the floral table centerpieces, beautifully glazed ceramic bowls and plates, and gifts from Arts & Letters Café. Montgomery also offered signed copies of her children’s book Butt Ugly.
Montgomery, a former board member of Child Abuse Listening and Mediation (CALM), told how she heard about ABG from Evelynn Smith.
“When Evelynn told me about the idea of remembering developmentally disabled adults on the holidays, it just touched my heart and I told her to count me in as a supporter,” Montgomery said. “There are many wonderful charitable organizations out there that need to raise money and don’t have the overhead to pay for an event site.”
As the tea concluded, guests offered heartfelt goodbyes to the gracious hosts, volunteers and staff members.
Cowen was elated as she shook hands and waved to departing guests.
“The event was such a success that the board has decided to make this an annual event,” Cowen said. “Each year now on the first weekend after Fiesta, we’ll have a Ladies Tea fundraiser for Angles Bearing Gifts.”