What: Simply Elegant Mystery Gala and Auction
When: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013
Where: The Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara
The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County hosted a unique "whodunnit" mystery gala and auction at the beautifully restored Granada Theatre.
Guests enjoyed gourmet hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in the foyer before ascending the circular stairway to the silent auction and more specialty food bars, such as a mashed potato bar.
More than 200 supporters enjoyed a friendly social hour before going into the main theater for the live auction and program.
Board president Diana Starr Langley and board member Lindsay Soleimani served as co-chairs of the Simply Elegant event assisted by committee members Louise Cruz, Carol Kruckenberg, Mike Medel, Melissa Gough, Jeanne Kearns, Sigi McCormack, Sal Rodriguez, Donna Reeves and UBGC Executive Director Gina Carbajal. Philanthropists Jeff and Judy Henley held the honorary chair post and were represented that evening by their daughter Julie Henley.
Founded in 1948, United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara boasts 7,000 youth members who utilize clubhouses in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara Westside, Goleta and Lompoc, as well as Camp Whittier near Cachuma Lake. The mission of the nonprofit organization is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential, as productive, caring and responsible citizens."
Indeed, United Boys & Girls Clubs is fulfilling its mission as reflected in the remarks of several speakers.
Honoree and longtime Santa Barbara businessman Jerry Shalhoob stated: “I want to thank the Boys & Girls Club for helping me raise my kids. I was a single dad, and the club was an integral part of their growing up.”
Son LJ Shalhoob added: “Thank you guys for everything. Our family appreciates it.”
The Shalhoob family was honored during the event, as well Lad Handelman who was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of service to the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“Going to the Boys Club in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., was the turning point in my life," Handelman said. "It was a new way to be challenged and to be myself. My life was never the same.
"I remember seeing this very ordinary cinderblock building, but what I found inside was extraordinary. There were staff that cared and directed me. I turned away from gangs. This same story is played out again and again in the streets of Santa Barbara today. Kids turn away from gangs because the club is there for them as a positive alternative. This is why we need to support the Boys & Girls Clubs.”
Handelman founded Oceaneering International in the 1960s on Stearn’s Wharf in Santa Barbara. He invented new technologies to explore the ocean and eventually Oceaneering International became the largest and most technically advanced underwater contractor in the world with operations in 24 countries and more than 1,000 divers. Later he founded Helix Energy Solutions, which conducts operations to extreme water depths of 8,000 feet.
He joined the United Boys & Girls Clubs board when he first came to Santa Barbara over 20 years ago. Longtime board members and supporters in the crowd from that era included Tom Brooks, Mike Pfau, Sal Rodriguez, Monica Lenches, Louise Cruz, Jim Crook, Dena Kern and Teresa Bryant from Bryant & Sons Jewelers.
Also spotted in the crowd were board members Rich Ridgway, Eloy Ortega and Michael Granados, as well as guests Diane Dodds, David Reickert, Sheriff Bill Brown, Scott Wood, Chip Marsh, Barry and Debbie Snyder, Jim Youngson and Carola Nicholson, Julia and Lee Carr, and Armando and Suzie Dominguez.
Youth of the Year Andrea Gallardo from Dos Pueblos High School said she will be the first person in her family to attend high school or college.
“I joined the Goleta Boys & Girls Club five years ago," she said. "There I learned how to compete and how to be a good worker. I know how much the club means to kids, especially those at risk.”
Radio personalities Catherine Remak and Bill Peso handled the live auction, which garnered $3,000 for a set of Lakers tickets. At the end of the program, former Executive Director Sal Rodriguez and boys club alum and basketball coach Ben Howland took the stage to direct the Stand up for Kids challenge.
“I would do anything for the Boys & Girls Club,” Howland said.
True to his word, he and his wife stood up for kids and pledged $5,000.
Celebration and dancing ended the evening in the Granada’s upstairs lobby — it was all for a good cause!