iSociety: Rochelle Rose

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

“When you find an idea that clicks, you stay with it,” quipped Heidi Holly, executive director of the Friendship Adult Day Care Center. That idea was a heart-centered event that would support the Friendship Center’s mission to enrich the quality of life for aging and dependent adults in friendly, heartfelt surroundings.

The event’s centerpiece is a silent auction called Heart Art, created by local artists, volunteers and some celebrities, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jeff Bridges. Artfully decorated hearts and heart-themed creations are also donated and created by students of Bishop Diego, San Marcos, Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara high schools.

The 14th Annual Festival of Hearts outgrew the Friendship Center’s courtyard venue in Montecito (across the street from its host All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church) and moved to the Reagan Room and foyer of Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara.

More than 175 supporters attended the luncheon and auction on a clear Saturday afternoon.

“I appreciate that you shared this beautiful Santa Barbara day with us,” longtime board president Marty Moore said. “You have taken the time on a sunny Saturday to spend it here. You have big hearts! Seventy percent of the people that use the Friendship Center are subsidized. Proceeds from this event will help HEARTS (Help Elders At Risk Today), which allows our program to remain available to all in need, regardless of income limitations.

“All Saints has been our home since 1979. We were saved from the basement of the Friendship Baptist Church in Santa Barbara — that is how we got our name — when All Saints took us in.”

Sponsors credited were Nancy and Thomas Crawford Jr., HUB International Insurance, MarBorg Industries, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Medtronic, Cal-Western Landscape, Pacific Tree Service, Louise and David Borgatello, Montecito Bank & Trust, LivHOME, Dana and Randall VanderMey, Susan and John Hanna, and many others.

After a social hour that included hors d’oeuvres, Fess Parker’s Santa Barbara County chardonnay and syrah, and music by the Montecito Jazz Project, guests enjoyed a French-themed luncheon in the Reagan Room.

Gail Rappaport emceed a spirited live auction that included hotel stays in San Francisco, New Orleans, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara’s own DoubleTree Resort. David Borgatello snapped up lunch for three with Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider — the mayor buys the lunch — for $1,500.

“I plan to emcee this event until I become a client at the Friendship Center,” Rappaport said.

Executive Director Heidi Holly thanked Sue Adams and the event committee, head Heart Wrangler Sharon Morrow, Rona Barrett, Justine Sutton, Bill Whitaker, Alex Broumard, county Supervisors Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf, Joe Holland and many other volunteers for their part in making the Festival of Hearts a success.

During Holly’s remarks, she shared the story of her mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died at age 73. It was a struggle for her and her two sisters, who were located across the country, to try to find care for “Ginger.”

“My mother died on Feb. 13, so the Festival of Hearts is a remembrance of her to me,” Holly said.

The Friendship Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most members arrive between 9:30 and 10 a.m. and leave between 2:30 and 4 p.m. Meals are served, and a variety of activities are provided, including art, music, games, exercise and gardening. It provides a healthy social experience for elders and respite for their caregivers. Two locations are now an option. The Goleta center at Live Oak Unitarian Church, 820 N. Fairview Ave., opened in 2011.

For more information about the Friendship Center, click here or call 805.969.0859.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @NoozhawkSociety and connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Pinterest.