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Spirit of Aloha Gives Friendship Center an Island Theme

Valentine fundraiser adds new dimension to 11th annual Festival of Hearts

Friendship Center, the only nonprofit adult day services center on the South Coast, is also one of our area’s best-kept secrets. Tucked into an idyllic little corner of Montecito on the campus of All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and just steps from Miramar Beach, its most beautiful feature is a secured outdoor courtyard surrounded by tall trees. Many of those who attend Friendship Center spend as much time outdoors as possible, given the plenitude of beautiful weather we enjoy here.

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From noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, Friendship Center, 89 Eucalyptus Lane, is inviting the community to enjoy that same lovely courtyard as it throws its annual Valentine party, this time with a tropical twist. In its 11th year, the Festival of Hearts is a benefit for Friendship Center and its only regular fundraiser.

“Past Festival of Hearts events haven’t really had a theme,” said executive director Heidi Holly. “But this year since the highlight of our live auction is a vacation for two on Kauai, it just seemed natural to bring in a Hawaiian theme. And a little bit of the tropics in winter is not a bad thing, either!”

The spirit of Aloha will be delivered to guests with a luau buffet luncheon by Lorraine Lim Catering, hula dancing and live Hawaiian music by acclaimed local-yet-island-native musician Kaleo Na’ea. While organizers of the event are crossing their fingers for sunny weather, a large tent has been reserved just in case.

Of course, the true centerpiece of the event is the hearts. Each year, local artists and celebrities create unique and stunning art pieces out of plain brown papier-mâché hearts, which are then sold at the event’s silent auction. Jeff Bridges does a heart every year, and is always the first in. Other heart-artists in recent years have been Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Barnaby Conrad, Steven Gilbar and Tony Askew, an artist, All Saints parishioner and former director of Westmont College’s Reynolds Gallery.

The silent and live auctions will also offer exciting travel and luxury packages and a wide range of gifts for your Valentine, at a variety of price points. Each guest will take home, as a party favor, a hand-decorated papier-mâché heart created by students from local high school art classes.

All proceeds from the event support the H.E.A.R.T. (Help Elders at Risk Today) Program, which enables elders and dependent adults with limited incomes to receive the Friendship Center’s services. Most of Friendship Center’s members have Alzheimer’s or other cognitive disorders related to aging.

Operating weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friendship Center provides its members a day full of lively, supervised activities, including crafts, gardening, conversation groups, live music and dance performances by local entertainers, and classes presented by SBCC’s OMEGA program. In addition to breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, Friendship Center offers transportation to and from the center in specially equipped vans.

Tickets are $85 in advance or $95 at the door. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets online, or call Friendship Center at 805.969.0859.

— Justine Sutton is grants and development coordinator at Friendship Center.

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