iSociety: Rochelle Rose

Friendship Center of Santa Barbara took advantage of the beautiful outdoor courtyard of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust’s Community Partners Center in downtown Santa Barbara to hold its annual Thank You Celebration.

The Friendship Center is a licensed nonprofIt adult day-care center with locations in Montecito and Goleta.

About 100 supporters enjoyed the afternoon offerings of Curtis wines, hors d’oeuvres by Fresco Café, Live Oak Grill Catering, and desserts by Debbie’s Delights. Pleasant background music was performed by solo guitarist Gilbert Herrera. Everyone received a pot of herbs, encircled by a yellow ribbon, donated by Gary Simpson of Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center.

Serving as master of ceremonies, the lovely actress Pamela Dillman Haskell opened the short ceremony. (Everyone admired her electric-blue high heels!)

Appropriately, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust was presented one of three “Big Hearts” awards for its compassionate support of the Friendship Center. The tribute was accepted on stage by Santa Barbra Bank & Trust employees Debbie Whiteley, Randy Weiss, Lora Taylor, Linda Trejo and Monica Vidger-Trent.

Another 2012 Big Heart Awardee was supporter Bob Sorich, who was cheered on by his son, Jerry, and his wife, Dee. In his acceptance remarks, Sorich credited the Friendship Center with making a full and meaningful life for his father, who lived to be 105.

“Up until his death, my father enjoyed coming to the center to socialize and participate in the activities,” he said.

The Senior Companion Program was presented a Big Heart, which was accepted by Diana Washburn. The program offers limited-income men and women 60 years and older an opportunity to share their time and talents serving children and adults with special needs.

Sally Hall gave a testimonial and history of the Friendship Center, which was started in 1976 as a pilot project of the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County for day care for elder adults at a small church, Friendship Baptist Church (hence the name). As the program grew, All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church offered a larger space on its Eucalyptus Lane campus in Montecito in 1979. Last year, a second Friendship Center opened at Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation on North Fairview Avenue in Goleta.

“It was a leap of faith to start the Friendship Center,” Hall said. “It is the easiest job for me to talk about the Friendship Center. When my husband, the late Reverend George Hall (former rector at All Saints Church), became older, he was very lonely at home. He was becoming more frail and senile. But going to the center gave him many hours of great happiness before he passed away.”

Friendship Center executive director Heidi Holly, who has been with the center for 28 years, and current board president Marty Moore also made remarks. Moore, himself a past Big Heart, said the center was like “someone throwing me a life preserver” when he was dealing with an aging family member. Other former Big Hearts in attendance included Chris Wilson, Chris Jones and Paul Didier of the United Way of Santa Barbara County.

Holly couldn’t help but mention some items that needed replacing — a DVD player, a flat-screen TV and a commercial refrigerator. The DVD player was quickly donated by a volunteer who said she was unemployed, followed quickly by Weiss’ pledge for Santa Bank & Trust to buy the TV.

Friendship Center is a licensed adult day-care center social model with the goal of providing social contact, activities, meals and supervision for the dependent adults who attend the program, and a break for their family caregivers. Friendship Center preserves and enriches the quality of life for aging and dependent adults through innovative programs that value the dignity and worth of every person. It provides respite, support and education, enabling families to continue to be engaged in their community, careers and commitments.

Click here for more information about Friendship Center, or call 805.969.0859. Click here to make an online donation to the Friendship Center. Connect with the Friendship Center on Facebook.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews, @NoozhawkBiz and @NoozhawkSociety. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Noozhawk on Pinterest.