Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 3:14 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Amethyst Ball ‘Copacabana’ Fundraiser Benefits CADA, Pays Tribute to Honoree Ron Werft

Extravagant evening celebrates the work of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse to provide treatment and prevention programs

The Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara was alive with glamour and generosity at the 26th Annual Amethyst Ball “Copacabana” fundraiser benefiting youth programs of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and honoring Ron Werft.

“Tonight we are honoring Ron Werft, who has been a huge help to the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse,” CADA Executive Director Penny Jenkins said. “The money raised will help us to continue to offer preventive programs and services for our youth to stay healthy and drug free.”

The nonprofit organization was established in 1949 by a small group of Santa Barbara citizens who met with Marty Mann, the first women to achieve sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous, to discuss alcoholism in Santa Barbara. As a result, the assembly formed the Santa Barbara Committee on Alcoholism and opened its first treatment clinic, the Alcoholism Information Center on Anacapa Street, in 1950.

Although the organization changed its name to the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in 1986, its objective remains the same: to build a safer, healthier community by preventing and treating alcoholism and drug abuse in Santa Barbara County through a series of education and public outreach programs in an effort to battle the disease and raise public awareness.

“Alcohol and drug abuse is the No. 1 health problem in America that affects everyone. Parents need to talk to their kids about this tragic disease and take preventive measures to stop substance abuse before it starts,” Jenkins said. “CADA has been working with people for 60 years with prevention, intervention, treatment and after-care.”

There was a nip of chill in the air at a VIP cocktail reception that commenced promptly at 6 p.m. on the Coral Casino’s seaside terrace. But no one seemed to mind as the space quickly filled to capacity with health-care professionals, supporters, friends and family members donned in tuxedos and extravagant floor-length gowns, covered in furs and sparkling jewelry.

Guests mingled under a massive ivory canopy filled with hundreds of silent auction items lined along tables positioned around the spacious interior. The abundance of luxury items included a winter extravaganza for a week of lodging at a luxurious condominium in Key Stone, Colo.,  courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Kent Englert, or an exotic two-night stay on the island of Lanai, Hawaii, with optional lodging at Four Seasons Resort, Lanai, or The Lodge at Koele, courtesy of Karen Earp and Four Seasons.

Later, guests flowed into the La Pacifica Ballroom, which had been transformed into a tropical oasis created by John Daly, complete with lavender lighting courtesy of SHINE Lighting and silver palm trees and tables laden with exotic floral centerpieces in large glass bulbs with bright pink feathers and shimmering candlelight by Anne Kelly, Maureen Anderson and SR Hogue.

Live rhythm and blues tunes by April Doyle and Haute Chile accompanied diners who settled in to enjoy a scrumptious four-course meal courtesy of the Biltmore’s culinary chefs. The delicious courses included white bean spiny lobster soup with delicate and flavorful medianoche sandwiches and a duo of cumin roasted prime filet medallions and mojito local halibut in a sweet potato puree paired with fine wines from Brander Vineyard.

Live auctioneer Scott Bowman livened up the already festive crowd as he initiated playful bidding wars over luxury vacations and items including a Wimbledon VIP tennis package valued as priceless, an eight-day trip for two on a South African safari in Cape Town and a $10,000 shopping spree at Bryant and Sons jewelers.

Over a dessert of coconut mousse in a white chocolate coconut shell with mango spuma, tropical fruit compote and praline crunch, longtime friends from Gerd Jordano and Michael Towbes to Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree stood on stage beside a life-sized cardboard model of Werft and paid tribute to the evening’s guest of honor as each speaker emphasized a facet of his character — family man, sportsman, entrepreneur, developer, fundraiser and revered civic volunteer.

Werft joined Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital as executive vice president and chief operating officer in 1987, and was promoted to president and chief executive officer of Cottage Health System in January 2000. He has also served on numerous boards, including for Santa Barbara Partners in Education, the United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County and as chair of the California Hospital Association.

As the prime developer and CEO of the new 370,000-square-foot Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, which opened recently and is expected to be fully completed by 2017, Werft said he was honored to be the recipient of the second annual Amethyst Award and thankful for the recognition.

“Everything we do in SB is such a team sport,” he said. “At Cottage we are nothing but a team. I get to work with board members, 600 physicians and 3,000 staff members who are dedicated to the mission of building the hospital and providing superior care to people in our community.”

Werft also added that 23 million Americans suffer from addition or dependency on alcohol and drugs and that only 2 million people are receiving treatment.

“We see the damage caused by this illness everyday at Cottage, with about 1,700 trauma visits per year now, and about 50 percent of those patients test positive for drugs and alcohol.”

Werft stressed that the mental health program and volunteer psychiatric unit at the hospital is dedicated to detox and preparing people for rehabilitation, and the chemical dependency residential treatment center has had great outcomes. However, even with these programs in place, substance and alcohol abuse is still a major problem in the community.

“I say this not to depress anyone at such a fun event, but to really underscore how important this event is and that the work that the CADA does in our community is vitally important.”

As a member of the Santa Barbara Fighting Back Steering Committee for more than 20 years, Werft works with community leaders to develop and promote a system of prevention, intervention and treatment for substance abuse in Santa Barbara County.

The Fighting Back Mentor Program includes trained adult mentors providing confidential counseling and prevention education for students in fourth to eighth grade attending Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta secondary schools. Equally important is the Fighting Back Parent Program, an educational interactive program aimed to help parents communicate with adolescents ages 10 to 18.

Additionally, the Teen Court Program is designed to keep kids out of the criminal justice system, and the Youth Service System utilizes trained youth service specialists to provide a continuum of prevention and intervention programs and services on local junior high and high school campuses, as well as the Daniel Bryant Youth and Family Center, where youths ages 12 to 18 years can find treatment and counseling for drugs and alcoholism.

Later, CADA’s newest chair member, Dee Dee Barrett, brought home the fact that the disease not only affects children but adults as well. She shared a heart-wrenching story about the perils of drug and alcohol abuse that resulted in the death of three of her family members.

“Alcoholism and drug abuse affects one out of five people, so looking around the room at tables of 10 there is about 54 or more who has someone close to you that has suffered from alcohol and drugs,” Barrett said. “Therefore, we must continue to fight this horrible disease.”

CADA provides a wide range of adult treatment, prevention, intervention programs and on-site treatment centers, including the Project Recovery Treatment Center, Adult Outpatient Treatment and the Perinatal Treatment Program, which assists pregnant women and parents of both genders with substance abuse issues, and Court Mandated Treatment Programs.

CADA graciously thanks all of the underwriters and patrons for support of the 26th Annual Amethyst Ball, including the following patrons:

» Diamond level: Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree

» Emerald level: Bob and Patty Bryant, Cottage Health Systems, Herbert Simon Family Foundation and Wood-Claeyssens Foundation

» Ruby level: Tom and Nancy Crawford, Gregg Hackethal and Penny Jenkins, Hutton Parker Foundation, Invest West and Harold Simmons Foundation

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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