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Santa Barbara Police Activities League Celebrates ‘Putting Kids First’

Supporters come out in full force for the 10th Annual Gala to benefit the organization's youth programs

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

Supporters of the Santa Barbara Police Activities League celebrated “Putting Kids First” at its 10th Annual Gala held recently at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum courtyard.

More than 200 attendees enjoyed a leisurely social hour and silent auction bidding in the upper courtyard before moving to a crimson-tented dining area near the museum. Greeting each guest and assisting with many tasks at the fundraising event were the PAL teens themselves — all dressed in sharp gray polo shirts. It was so rewarding to see the respectful and energetic young people helping in such a friendly and enthusiastic way.

Board members were there early and in force, including president Doug Dreier, officer Ken Wojciechoski, Mark Magid, Debi Badger, John Dixon, Darryll Dewan, John Dixon, John Van Donge (with his teen daughter, Kate), Sergio Villa, Tom Shapiro, Caroline Grange, officer Adrian Gutierrez, Adam Marquis, Ralph Iannelli, Phillip Pennestri and Capt. David Whitham.

“Today, over 1,200 children a year take advantage of our sports leagues, our leadership council, and the different activities and classes at the Twelve 35 Teen Center,” Dreier said. “Our Campership Alliance provides scholarships to camps all over Santa Barbara.”

Since 1999, the Santa Barbara Police Activities League has provided educational, cultural and athletic programming for the youth of Santa Barbara in order to foster positive relationships between the Police Department, as well as all members of the community.

“We hope to raise $200,000,” said Executive Director Laurie Parker, who has been at the helm for two years. “We have over 60 silent auction items and six wonderful live auction items, including a wonderful stay in Carmel donated by George Leis and Union Bank. The funds are so important in order provide programs that connect the youth with the Police Department in a positive way. We operate at all the junior high schools.”

Major event sponsors included Leis, Richard and Marguerite Berti, Chad and Ginni Dreier, Richard Auhll, Channel Cat Charters, the Hutton Parker Foundation, Ralph and Melissa Iannelli, Merrill Lynch and Union Bank. Other Buddys and Patrons included Alliance Wealth Strategies, Darryll Dewan, Franzen & Franzen, the Page Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, Pacifica Hotels, Phillip and Tricia Pennestri, Bryant & Sons, Case Detective Agency, Tri-County Produce and many more.

Auhll was honored for his many years on the Board of Directors. He founded Circon Corporation and served as board chairman, president and CEO for 30 years. Auhll holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. He trained as an aerospace engineer but developed a company that grew to be the largest producer of medical endoscopes and color video systems for minimally invasive surgery. He received the Master Entrepreneur of the Year of Award from the Institute of American Entrepreneurs.

Auhll is a licensed pilot of his Citation jet and lives in Santa Barbara and Aspen. Annually, he hosts a holiday party where admission donations benefit PAL.

Also recognized at the event was outgoing president Doug Dreier, who has served two terms as board president, nearly seven years — Dreier was a teacher in Baltimore, Md., before moving to Santa Barbara and worked with at-risk children during that time. He was familiar with the National Police Activities League because of his involvement with the Baltimore PAL. Kristin Dreier Wilson headed up the benefit committee.

Officer Kent Wojciechoski (Wojo), a police officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department since 1991, created the PAL organization in 1999 as a way to do more preventive policing in the community. Santa Barbara police officers provide in-field intervention and are present in the community, referring youth in need of guidance to PAL, which offers hands-on activities for the youth with a focus on low-income youth at risk of gang violence.

Santa Barbara PAL has grown from serving 50 children to now providing programming and services for 1,200 children every year, all at no cost to families. PAL is designed to encourage academic achievement, community service, leadership skills, self-esteem and personal development.

The well-organized event was catered by New West Catering, and decorations were supplied by Scenes Flore and Event Design. Rentals were provided by Classic Party Rentals and lighting by Bella Vista Designs. The dinner menu included white wild shrimp wrapped in bacon, grilled filet of beef and sautéed Alaskan halibut, and yummy desserts of chocolate soufflé cake and an organge Grand Marnier soaked doughnut.

“I am concerned about the children of Santa Barbara, the country and the world,” sponsor Richard Berti said. “PAL gives the kids a better place to be. They don’t have to hang on the streets. PAL puts them in the right direction, depending on their age, whether it be Boy Scouting, the Marine Corps or college. That is why I support PAL.”

For more information on how to help PAL, click here, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 805.962.5560.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow her on Twitter: @NoozhawkSociety and connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Pinterest.

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