The Alpha Resource Center hosted its seventh annual “Circle of Life” luncheon on March 25. The invitation-only event was a huge success and as much fun as past events.

More than 400 guests, family and friends of Alpha gathered. The energy was high as attendees enjoyed an hour with Alpha participants, emcee Dennis Miller and Alpha Executive Director Kim Olson.

Guests laughed and cried during Alpha’s Performing Arts Troupe skit about how we are all basically the same, if we can just “Imagine a World.”

Josh Weitzman, father of Hannah, spoke eloquently and from his heart about how having a child with Down syndrome has affected his family. “I love Hannah because she is Hannah,” he said, “and I am so blessed to hold her hand and help other people see her simply as Hannah.”

Olson told attendees about a gift she received — a crystal bowl — from one of the founding mothers of Alpha, Edna Dahl, shortly before her death. “I saw in that bowl all her hopes and dreams for Alpha, a symbol of the abundance and generosity of others, a bowl that would be emptied and filled again.”

The bowl is being filled: In one hour, Alpha raised more than $140,000. The table captains and guests made the event a success with their passion and commitment for Alpha’s programs and services.

News of growth and expansion for Alpha was announced at “Circle of Life.” Alpha has been chosen as a recipient of a memorial fund in honor of Ugo Melchiori, well-known Santa Barbara builder and philanthropist. Alpha and the Melchiori family are collaborating to develop a portion of unused space at Alpha’s Cathedral Oaks property. This project will incorporate sustainable landscape, outdoor classrooms, an additional employment program for Alpha participants, and a rental space for community events.

The Alpha Resource Center looks forward to the coming year with great anticipation about its property development, expanded connection with the community, and creating more ways to be sustainable in these times. It hosts tours of its campus and welcomes the community. Click here for more information.

— Marisa Bourke is an outreach coordinator for the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara.