Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 2:33 pm | A Few Clouds 71º


Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Establishes Capt. Fred Benko Memorial Fund

For anyone who has ever cruised the Pacific seas with Capt. Fred Benko, they know all too well that the magical, unforgettable experience with Benko and the Condor Express was one part the seas, and two parts the charm and wit of Captain Fred. His enthusiasm for the sea charmed many into becoming equally as exuberant maritime followers.

One thing about Benko was that he was also deeply dedicated to making lives better for children in the community. His early childhood taught him to be resourceful, accountable and, most importantly, kind and generous of heart.

As a way of memorializing the former Advisory Council member, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum has established the Fred Benko Memorial Fund. This fund will provide free tuition for students of Title 1 schools to participate in the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s hands-on living history program — the Spirit of Dana Point overnight Tall Ship program.

Each October, the Spirit of Dana Point arrives from the Ocean Institute in Santa Barbara’s Harbor. Local fourth-graders studying California’s history read an abridged edition of Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast in their classrooms. Then, they take a tour of the museum and spend the night on the Tall Ship, where they learn how to live the life of an 1830s sailor.

This program serves the students by helping to develop their listening and speaking skills and leadership and teamwork skills. It also helps improve their self-esteem.

Last year, more than 400 students from 18 fourth-grade classes participated in the program. This year, 23 classes have already signed up.

To make a donation to the Capt. Fred Benko Memorial Fund, please follow the memorial donation link found on the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum’s website. For more information about the fund, please call Executive Director Greg Gorga at the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum at 805.962.8404 x103.

— Greg Gorga is executive director of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.


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