Who: Fifth Annual Celebrate Recovery Luncheon and Silent Auction honoring Judy Garrison and Denise McIntosh
What: A benefit to support Casa Serena
When: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013
Where: Santa Barbara Club
A sold-out crowd joined together to benefit Casa Serena at the Santa Barbara Club for the Fifth Annual Celebrate Recovery luncheon and to recognize two pillars of the community, Judy Garrison and Denise McIntosh, with the 2013 Pillar of Strength Awards.
The presentation honored two individuals within the community who demonstrate the same commitment, dedication and compassion for women in recovery, as did Casa founder Mildred Pinheiro, who started the organization in 1959.
In 1973, Casa Serena became an independent nonprofit with a mission to provide effective treatment services using the 12-step process and philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous. It also offers a safe, sober living environment for women suffering from alcoholism or who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.
Garrison has been involved with Casa Serena for more than 20 years with her sharp fundraising skills.
“I never felt jail was an answer to the disease of alcoholism,” Garrison said. “I’m a firm believer in education and rehabilitation so when I learned about Casa, the Grad House and Oliver House, I wanted to support them.”
And although her fundraising skills have benefited Casa Serena, the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse’s Mentoring Program, and more, Garrison remains passionate about recovery having helped many women through the journey.
McIntosh sought out the services of the organization in 2006, and went from completing the Main House Program to a working as the Oliver House resident advisor in 2008.
The self-proclaimed “minivan mom gone wrong” joined the art therapy program at Casa Serena where many of her paintings adorn the walls of the facility and both her spirit and her artwork remain a part of the organization.
“I’m a Forever Casa Girl,” McIntosh said. “I’m not living there anymore, but I’ve never left. Casa changed my life.”
Executive Director Craig Belknap has been with the organization for six years and his wife, Nancy, is the program director who has been with the organization for 10 years. Belknap spoke of the special day and the services Casa Serena offers to the community.
“Today is the 54th celebration of the founding of Casa Serena, the only state licensed residential facility for women," Belknap said, "and because we also have three properties we have availability for women with their children."
Casa Serena operates three homes for women in various stages of recovery, including the Main House with a structured 90-day program and the Graduate House that offers long-term care up to nine months, plus the Oliver House, whose primary mission is to assist pregnant women and those with children.
Casa Serena has served more than 10,000 and is the only women’s treatment facility in Santa Barbara County that is licensed by the State of California.
Established in 1892, the Santa Barbara Club, at 1105 Chapala St., remains one of the oldest private clubs in California and an urban oasis for members with old world charm and a rich Santa Barbara history.
Casa Serena offers special thanks to the fifth annual “Celebrate Recovery!” sponsors:
» Judy Garrison in memory of Erin Elizabeth, the Volentine Family Foundation, S&S Seeds, Valerie Cavanaugh, Elizabeth Rice Grossman, Steve Olsen, Montecito Bank & Trust, Venoco Inc., Union Bank, Maryan Schall, Douglas Jackson, M.D., Elizabeth Vogt, Sara Miller McCune, Rosalind Amorteguy, McCormix Corporation, Richard Welch, Stalwart House, MarBorg Industries and Ever-Bloom Flowers.
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.