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Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara Embraces Luck of the Irish with ‘Pot O’ Gold’ Fundraiser

St. Patrick’s Day-themed dinner and auction benefits after-school, summer and weekend programs, and honors Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin of Lynda.com

A “Pot O’ Gold” and an abundance of green greeted guests at a St. Patrick’s Day-themed dinner and auction on March 17 or the largest annual Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara fundraiser at the Santa Barbara Armory, to support after-school, summer and weekend programs and honor Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin of Lynda.com.

For the past 74 years, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara has been the oldest local club providing care for children, youth and families, and the event this year highlighted the golden qualities of the organization at the historic Armory building, a unique venue near Santa Barbara High School with high ceilings and wooden doors, including iron light fixtures that contribute to an Old Spanish-style flair that was transformed into a festive Irish-style event.

Guests were greeted at the large doors by a row of young children wearing green paper top hats, smiling and exclaiming “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” to each guest.

A cocktail reception and silent auction started the night with items that included two passes to Universal Studios, admission for two to Lotusland, Ugg boots and a one-year premium membership to Lynda.com.

Later, joyous guests searched out a space around beautifully decorated tables to the welcome of emcees Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley and Sheriff Bill Brown, who were joined by county Supervisor Salud Carbajal.

“I’ve been a board member of the Boys & Girls Club for close to a dozen years, and all four of my sons graduated the Boys & Girls Club,” Dudley said. “It means the world to me to emcee the event, and I think we’re making a difference tonight.

“And, the Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club is right across the street from Santa Barbara High, which means it’s the best place I think to begin crime prevention.”

Next, international award-winning Claddagh Dance Company kicked off the dinner with a Riverdance-style performance.

Guests enjoyed a variety of traditional fare that began with the “Dublin,” a traditional Irish lettuce salad with tomatoes, watercress, beets and hardboiled eggs. Next was “The Blarney Stone” of crispy chicken with mustard crust and carrot coins or a vegetarian entrée in the form a of a traditional stew with Seitan and smokey tempeh bacon.

The delectable meal was topped off by a “Sweet Shamrocks” dessert dash with the largest sum of money winning the privilege to choose the first dessert for the winning table, with second-highest getting second choice and so on. The winning table bid the highest amount in “Pot O’ Gold” history, valued at $15,552.

Following the dessert dash was an awards presentation to this year’s honorees, Weinman and Heavin, for their continued community support of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara.

“We love the Boys & Girls Club, and so we feel really strongly about the value of the program,” Weinman said. “And to be honored is very flattering, and of course we’re very touched to be honored.”

A live auction featuring a range of items included a firehouse party for eight kids and their parents with Santa Barbara firefighters at Station 1 at 121 W. Carrillo St. or Station 8 at the Santa Barbara Airport. Other items up for bid included a trip for five nights at a beautiful Lake Tahoe resort or a five-night getaway to Sunriver, Ore.

During dinner, Chris Manning kept the evening festive, performing on vocals and guitar, while after dinner the Seymour Duncan Band kept joyous guests rocking into the night.

Unwanted gold also was accepted as part of the donations and was a fitting contribution to the evening’s theme.

Some of the after-school, summer and weekend programs that benefited from the evening included education and career development with computer training and homework club, the arts where youths develop creativity through programs such as ceramics, painting and dance, and sports and recreation including the In-House Basketball League and the Games Room.

“I think all of the programs benefit the kids, and the beauty is that there’s a lot of variety so kids who are artistic are being affected and kids who like sports and kids who need help with their homework, whatever it is,” Weinman said. “It’s just a great after-school program and the community really needs that.”

The benefits of the programs offered by the organization are paramount in the development of young children who lack the resources to explore and achieve their dreams.

“This sparks their curiosity, and I think this could bridge into a future. Because if you’re coming from a broken home or your economically deprived it’s really hard to find that hope. This starts to give kids hope at a really young age,” Heavin said. “Whether it’s picking up a guitar and laying down tracks in a music studio, doing art or learning to do research or work on your homework, or doing things on a computer.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara thanks the gracious “Pot O’ Gold” sponsors:

» Presented by: Montecito Bank & Trust and Deckers Outdoor Corp.

» Lucky Charms sponsors: Venoco Inc., Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Cox, and Tim and Louise Casey.

» Lucky Leprechaun sponsors: MarBorg Industries, Lynda.com, David McKeever and Graciela Montgomery, Tom and Sheila Pendiville, and the Brittingham Family 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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