Sunday, October 4 , 2015, 6:24 pm | Partly Cloudy 59º

Guests ‘Wine Down’ at Friendship Center Fundraiser

The nonprofit adult day services facility celebrates its longtime tradition of support and the opening of a new location in Goleta

Hosts and directors Vangie Herrera and Carolyn Tulloh welcome guests with complimentary wine glasses at the Friendship Center’s Second Annual Wine Down last Friday in its courtyard on Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito.
Hosts and directors Vangie Herrera and Carolyn Tulloh welcome guests with complimentary wine glasses at the Friendship Center’s Second Annual Wine Down last Friday in its courtyard on Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito.  (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety |

The Friendship Center’s Second Annual Wine Down fundraiser at its beautiful courtyard on Eucalyptus Lane attracted more than 90 guests last Friday afternoon to the adult day services facility located just steps away from the beach in Montecito.

The event commenced under overcast skies coupled with a hint of humidity, and with many attendees stopping by at the end of their workweek, the “Wine Down” theme served to enhance the mood.

Hosts Vangie Herrera and Carolyn Tulloh greeted guests in the brightly lit wood-paneled reception area and offered complimentary wine glasses to visitors.

With glasses in hand, the guests made their way to the courtyard ripe with vegetation and an exterior space bursting with lush ferns, palm trees, colorful flowers, grand oak trees and flowing water fountains. Table settings positioned in the middle of the courtyard and tastefully decorated in blue, lavender and white tones added to the already tranquil setting.

The grounds quickly filled with chatter and laughter that occasionally rose above the smooth jazz tunes of the Montecito Jazz Project as guests mingled and sampled an array of wines from 10 local vintners and surveyed the silent auctions items on display.

Servers wound through the festive crowd offering hor d’eouvres of bruschetta crostini, dates filled with goat cheese and bacon, turkey avocado wraps and flank steak skewers catered by Jack’s Bistro. The Marmalade Cafe also provided a tasty array of fruit and cheese platters.

Later, Rona Barrett, guest speaker and longtime supporter and advocate for adult services, addressed the crowd.

“We are all venturing into a new phase of life, and one of the great phases of life for me evolves around the Friendship Center,” Barrett said, adding that her life changed significantly when her father, who had Alzheimer’s disease, didn’t recognize who she was one day. “I decided to become a voice for adults who need help. People who don’t have the financial recourse to pay for services like these.”

Barrett, who founded the Rona Barrett Foundation, said caring for her father inspired her to cultivate lavender, a flower used for its calming and healing effects, and to produce lavender-based products in the Santa Ynez Valley to raise money for low-income adults in need.

Board President Marty Moore and Executive Director Heidi Holly welcomed the guests and thanked the vendors, sponsors, volunteers, staff and fellow board members for the generous support.

Moore praised the Friendship Center, founded 35 years ago by the Rev. George Hall at Cota Street until the organization relocated to its current building on Eucalyptus Lane in Montecito.

Moore called the center a “lifesaver” for people with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and other cognitive disabilities who need supervision during the day, and expressed pride in the recent opening of the new Friendship Center in Goleta, inside Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 820 N. Fairview Ave. The new adult day services center christened in July is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is equipped to accommodate up to 40 people with the same programs and services as the Montecito location.

Friendship Center member Loretta Hurley, who visits the center on Tuesday and Thursdays, was helped by assistants to the podium as she shared a heartfelt testimonial.

“I love coming here,” Hurley said tearfully. “This place makes me want to live. I want to sing and dance!”

The live auction hosted by Susan Frascella included a $1,000 donation to cover 100 meals for members who are served breakfast, lunch and a small snack while at the facility. Other items included a day rail car adventure from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo.

Justine Sutton, development coordinator for the Friendship Center, said the program offers an extensive range of activities geared to stimulate and engage adults in different levels of activities, including music, art, gardening, board games and exercise with adult education programs such as the Adventuresome Aging Program and the Connection Program.

Up to 55 members who visit the Montecito facility participate in a wide range of activities and programs structured to help disadvantaged adults with memory loss. The goals and functions of the services and programs are to raise self-esteem, reduce restlessness, and provide members with opportunities for group socialization and friendship.

“When people come here they are engaged in social activities and discussions,” Sutton said. “There is a lot of laughter, and members really enjoy themselves.”

For more information about Friendship Center services and volunteer opportunities, click here or call 805.969.0859.

The Friendship Center would like to thank the following sponsors for their generosity:

» Montecito Bank & Trust, and Rose-Marie and James B. Towle.

» Deckers Outdoor Corp.

» Boone Graphics, David and Louise Borgatello, Sharon Kennedy Estate Management, MarBorg Industries, Penny Mathison and Don Nulty, Dana and Randall VanderMey, and Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care.

» Susan Adams, Marmalade Cafe, Casa San Miguel, the Center for Intergenerational Relations, Heritage House, Vangie Herrera and Al Anglin, Jack’s Bistro, Sey Kinsell, Maravilla Senior Living Community, Senior Planning Services and Single Point FM.

Participating wineries included:

Buttonwood Farm Winery, Cottonwood Canyon Winery, Curtis Winery, Fess Parker Winery, Firestone Vineyard, Foley Wines, Jaffurs Wine Cellars, Palmina Wines, Rusack Winery and Whitcraft Winery.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews, and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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