The Bayou event is one that I look forward to each year, and last weekend’s fundraiser was not a disappointment. The 11th annual “Downfield on the Bayou” benefit for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission was held at the exclusive and stunning Dos Pueblos Ranch on the ocean in north Goleta.
More than 300 guests enjoyed the warm October afternoon under rows of mature eucalyptus and Moreton Bay fig trees that bordered the large lawn where the eating and silent auction tables were situated. Decorations chair Dianne Davis had an orange- and football-themed affair, and attendees donned their favorite football team’s jerseys and T-shirts.
The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission is a ministry of Christian people bringing physical, emotional, educational and spiritual resources to men, women and children in need, particularly those struggling with addictions. Since its founding in 1965, SBRM has grown into an organization that provides food and shelter 365 nights a year to those with no place else to go — and lasting hope — in its 12-month residential recovery program for men and women desiring to break free from cycles of addiction, poverty, homelessness and crime.
The Rescue Mission’s Women’s Auxiliary members (dressed as umpires) were the main organizing force behind this well-orchestrated event. Bayou Event co-chairs Susan Hughes and Suzi Ryan were assisted by silent auction coordinators Rose Hodge and Terry Foil, as well as auxiliary president Terri Anderson and members Jean Archer, Cynthy Ardell, Betty Bagdasarian, Sandee Beckers, Marguerite Berti, Alice Birch, Maureen Bowis, Alice Campbell, JoAnn Conty, Sharon Davie, Suzy Dobreski, Joyce Enright, Juanita Freel, Trish Geyling, Pamela Gilbert, Mary Hubbard Given, Norris Goss, Lorette Harnsberger, Kathy Hartnett, Cindy Jaeger, Pat Johnson, Kitty Larsen, Susan Laughlin, Linda Nielsen, Carol Ohman, Andrea Preiser, Bette Anne Ratzlaff, Verlinda Richardson, Marlene Riemer, Elaine Rottman, Carolyn Savage,Mary Schmidt, Kim Schuck, Pam Sneddon, Sydney Tredick, Diane Waterloo, Susan Wennerstrom, Annie Williams, Julie Willig and Helene Winter.
The event was also helped by board chairman Karl Willig, vice chairman Richard Fogg, Scott Wilson, treasurer Dorothy Schuele, Cynthy Ardell, Gil Ashor, M.D., Kip Bradley, Hershel Brewer, Kent Englert, Dr. Walter Hansen, Dr. Gary Hanson, Robert Hughes, Kiah Jordan, Dr. Robert Kates, Pastor James Kinzler and Matthew Neal.
After a friendly check-in, guests enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by Lorraine Lim Catering (who also prepared the dinner of barbecue beef and vegetable skewers, asparagus and pumpkin ravioli that was shared family-style by 12 guests at each table). The Dixie Daddies Band provided live music along with the Dos Pueblos High School music department and energetic cheerleaders.
Longtime mistress of ceremonies Gerd Jordano did another great job closing auction sections and introducing the program.
This year, local businessman and philanthropist Bob Bryant was honored with the Léni Fé Bland Award. He was recognized for his committed partnership in the work of recovery through his service on the Fighting Back Steering Committee and as the founder of the Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center. Bryant was introduced by Penny Jenkins, CEO of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, who has the shared experience with Bryant of losing a child to substance abuse.
Bryant’s first remarks at the podium were that SBRM President Rolf Geyling instructed him “not to wear his USC shirt and to keep it short!” Bryant credited his wife, Patty, and children as his anchors and described himself as “a humble servant” in his work and founding of the Daniel Bryant Youth & Family Treatment Center in Santa Barbara. He also acknowledged Leni Fe Bland for her essential and generous support of the Rescue Mission, saying, “Leni, you are a Santa Barbara jewel. God’s blessings be with you.”
The featured speaker was former client Sherry Sanders, who traveled from Arizona to tell her Rescue Mission story. Adopted at age 5, Sanders said she sought to connect with her birth mother her whole life. With the accompanying self-esteem problems, she had four children by age 25 and lost custody of all of them because of addiction, ultimately to heroin. By a miracle she was assigned to live at the Rescue Mission women’s center Bethel House instead of jail. After much soul-searching and counseling, she faced her demons and became sober.
Sanders started working at the Rescue Mission, first as a receptionist and later as volunteer coordinator and in other supervisory positions. She credited “the love of God and the Rescue Mission” for her recovery, and after six years of employment at SBRM she moved to Arizona with her new husband and is now a property manager.
Major event sponsors included Hank and Maureen Bovis, Chronicle Family Offices, Leni Fe Bland, Ron and Terry Foil, David and Anna Grotenhuis, Kiah and Anna Jordan, Cal and Phyllis Marble, Paul and Suzi Ryan, Harold and Annette Simons, Karl and Julie Willig, Scott and Sharon Wilson, Cottage Health System, Montecito Bank & Trust and many others.
The Downfield on the Bayou event is a major fundraiser for the Rescue Mission. It has raised $380,657 to support the organization, which receives no public or government support. It costs about $25,000 to take an addicted person through the 12-month residential program. President Geyling said that this year event was boosted by a $50,000 matching gift opportunity, which also spurned another $25,000 gift opportunity by a motivated donor.
According to Rebecca Weber, director of communications and constituent relations, the Rescue Mission expected to raise $350,000 through the event with the matching opportunities.
“God is good,” she said.
For more information about the Rescue Mission, click here or call 805.966.1316 x105.