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Anne Smith Towbes, Hutton Parker Foundation Feted at Red Feather Ball Benefit

United Way of Santa Barbara County honors longtime community leaders at annual fundraiser for a host of worthy programs

From left, 2013 Abercrombie Community Excellence Award winners Tom and Susan Parker and Anne Smith Towbes, with her husband, Michael Towbes, the 2004 honoree, at the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s 17th Annual Red Feather Ball.
From left, 2013 Abercrombie Community Excellence Award winners Tom and Susan Parker and Anne Smith Towbes, with her husband, Michael Towbes, the 2004 honoree, at the United Way of Santa Barbara County’s 17th Annual Red Feather Ball.  (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety | updated logo |

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

Who: 17th Annual Red Feather Ball

What: Benefit for the United Way of Santa Barbara County

When: Saturday, Nov. 2

Where: Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort

Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort welcomed 400 guests to the 17th Annual Red Feather Ball on Saturday night to honor Anne Smith Towbes and the Hutton Parker Foundation in a benefit for the United Way of Santa Barbara County.

Host Debby Davison was joined by Venoco Inc. executive chairman Tim Marquez to present the prestigious Abercrombie Community Excellence Awards to the Hutton Parker Foundation and Smith Towbes, whose husband, Michael, received the honor in 2004 with Montecito Bank & Trust.

Anne Towbes told Noozhawk about the special place that the award had in her heart.

“I have been coming to the Red Feather Ball for years. I was a good friend of Catherine Abercrombie, and it’s very special that I’m being honored with their award, the Abercrombie Community Excellence Award. It means a lot to me. She and Stuart were just wonderful, wonderful community members. And I miss them.”

The evening began with cocktails and a wide array of silent auction items — from jewelry to travel, sports and home and garden. Dinner followed with a main course of petite filet and Maine lobster tail before a live scholarship auction.

Parker shared what made the honor special for him and the foundation, and offered some details on his newest book that was given to each guest wrapped in gold foil.

“I’m grateful, but it’s the foundation that’s being recognized and the idea of philanthropy is being honored, it’s not Tom Parker," he said. "It’s truly the idea that the foundation being philanthropic is what’s important in this town. Just as all the individuals here or are philanthropic. That’s where the honor comes.

“The book is about a different way to look at investing. Instead of the old model with just Wall Street, at the foundation we’ve taken and invested in community.”

In addition to honoring these community leaders, the gathering of supporters benefited the efforts of the Santa Barbara County United for Literacy Initiative in partnership with the United Way of Santa Barbara County, which provides multiservice educational school programs to students from infancy to adulthood.

“What’s special about tonight is this is the single largest source of money for our two award winning programs, Fun in the Sun and United for Literacy,” said Paul Didier, United Way of Santa Barbara County president and CEO. “And between them they’ve probably touched over 8,000 children and adults with literacy and character building activities.”

These year-round educational programs include learning materials, parent-child teaching methods and online services designed to improve student literacy and increase the number of high school graduates in Santa Barbara County.

United for Literacy’s four primary educational programs include Bornlearning, a parent-based program that encourages daily engagement between parent and child from birth to 5 years of age.

The event also supported United Way’s Fun in the Sun program, which boasts a specialized enrichment curriculum serving low-income students each summer with an array of educational programs, including Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (STEAM), financial literacy, health services and lunch bunch mentors.

Towbes has been involved for years with the successful Fun in the Sun Program and spoke about the impact that the program has for families in the community.

“It’s a win-win for everybody," she said. "It’s definitely a united way of dealing with reading and educational issues.”

The elegant ball was capped off with lively dancing to Art Deco and His Society Orchestra as guests enjoyed another successful Red Feather Ball.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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