A few years ago, before I worked at Alpha Resource Center, I traveled the same route to my office downtown. I often saw a man walking up Anacapa Street, with a brown bag lunch and a big smile on his face. He walked quickly, and I remember thinking that I wished I was in as much of a hurry to get where I was going as he seemed to be.
A few months later, I attended a play put on by the performing artists at Alpha. I was awestruck to see my friend from Anacapa Street walk onto the stage and sing with his beautiful baritone voice. My friend Jim is a talented actor, singer and a participant at the Alpha Resource Center. He happens to have a developmental disability.
Over the last 60 years, we have seen our community welcome and value its members with special needs. We have also seen the community rally in support of the growth and expansion of Alpha Resource Center, a countywide organization supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.
The year 2013 marks Alpha’s 60th anniversary, and we wish to acknowledge our community for its support of Alpha and of the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities. The anniversary is dedicated to the memory of Bob Kallman, former Santa Barbara County supervisor, community leader, and one of Alpha’s founding members.
Bob and Ruth Kallman were instrumental in the acquisition of the property on Cathedral Oaks Road where Alpha’s Adult Services are housed. But more importantly, they took a stand for community support for children and an adults with developmental disabilities in the early 1950s when institutionalization was the norm.
In 1990, when Alpha burned down in the Painted Cave Fire, foundations, corporations and individuals supported the rebuilding with their time, energy and financial support. Today, Alpha partners with the Kiwanis, Boy Scouts, United Way, Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, All Saints-by-the-Sea, Casa Esperanza, the Garden Street Academy, Capuchin Friars and more. Alpha recognizes our community partners with our “Imagine a World” Awards, which are presented to individuals and organizations who go above and beyond in creating an inclusive community “where all people are treated with dignity and respect.” Alpha Thrift Stores are a prime example of how our community is directly supporting the people served by Alpha Resource Center through donating and shopping at the stores.
“Alpha has been a community treasure through the years, serving hundreds and even thousands of people with disabilities and their families," supporter and former board member Lanny Ebenstein said. "Alpha’s paramount and overriding goal is a commitment to human dignity. Every human being has a right to the maximum fulfillment in life. Alpha has certainly lived up to this goal over the decades.”
We hope to continue to provide empowering support and create a community where all are valued and treated with respect for the next 60 years and beyond.
Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara will celebrate its 60th anniversary from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum. Click here for more information.
— Marisa Pasquini is an associate development director for the Alpha Resource Center.