Cowboy boots, hats and denim jeans were the fashion statement at the western-themed Taste for Carpinteria Chili Challenge last Sunday hosted by Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. A Taste for Carpinteria brought together the community for a boot-stomping benefit to support Girls Inc., an organization committed to providing vital resources for local girls and young women.
The mission of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria is to inspire and empower girls and women to achieve personal, social, political and economic success in order to become strong, smart and bold.
The Carpinteria-based Dusty Jugz Band, sponsored by Mission Linen, started their musical set with an Alan Jackson tune that got the line dancers out on the floor. Line-dance pro Beth Schmohr led the droves of line dancers, who seemed to appear out of nowhere once the music started.
Dressed in sharp, bright red cardigans, Girls Inc. youth members did a wonderful job replenishing food plates and picking up the trash.
“I have been coming to Girls Inc. in Carpinteria since I was 8 years old,” said eighth-grader Ana Delgado, one of the volunteers. “It is a great place to go to learn.”
Chili Challenge judges included James Sly (head judge) from Sly’s Restaurant, Finola Hughes, Gail McMahon Persoon, Roxanne and Wade Nomura, recently elected to the Carpinteria City Council. Ed Van Wingerden served as Master of Ceremonies, and Tim Cohen wielded the gavel at the live auction.
The hotly contested Chili Challenge resulted in the winners announced at the end of the evening. First place went to the Albertsons Big Country Redneck Chili by Jeff Havard, second place to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Farts Club by Chef Nirasha Holcomb and Jason Rodriquez, and third place to the Carpinteria Lions Club by Sandi and Mike Prather. The People’s Choice Award was presented to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Farts Club, which also garnered the Spirit Award (decor and theme).
Master of Ceremonies Ed VanWingerden thanked everyone for attending and supporting Girls Inc. Special recognition awards were presented to the City of Carpinteria and Juan and Gail Persoon.
“The City of Carpinteria was there for us when nobody else was,” Girls Inc. Executive Director Victoria Juarez said.
Major sponsors included Montecito Bank & Trust and AHA (Affordable Housing Access), headquartered in Newport Beach. “Maverick” sponsors were Ever-Bloom/Ed and Nadia VanWingerden, Griffith & Thornburgh Attorneys, Rabobank, S&S Seeds, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, and Annie and Tony Thomas. “Buckeroo” sponsors included Tim and Janey Cohen, Hazelwood & McCann Mini Storage, Hollandia Produce, Johannes Flowers, Maryan and Richard Schall, and Venoco Inc.
Committee members were led by chair Mary Crowley, co-chairs Bethel Mather and Diana Freeman, Tracy Beard, Lea Boyd, Geri Ann Carty, Donna Downs, Kiona Gross, Linda Hernandez, Stefanie Herrington, Gail Persoon and Cheryl Wright. The annual event was also supported by board members President Craig Price, First Vice President Mary Crowley, Treasurer Cindy Halstead, Secretary Diana Freeman, Secretary Cindy Abbott, Terry Banks, Beard, Carty, Downs, John Franklin, Clyde Freeman, Bethel Mather, Persoon, Nini Seaman and Wright. Juarez and Director of Development Jill Tyler were also essential to event success.
Girls Inc. is a nonprofit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. With local roots dating to 1864 and national status since 1945, Girls Inc. has responded to the changing needs of girls through research-based programs and public education efforts that empower girls to understand, value, and assert their rights. It provides programs for girls 6 to 18 that focus on science, math, and technology; health and sexuality; economic and financial literacy; sports skills; leadership and advocacy; and media literacy.
Girls Incorporated was founded in Carpinteria in 1971 as a summer camp for 33 girls. The club incorporated in 1974, began year-round programming in 1975, purchased a 2-bedroom house in 1978 and affiliated with Girls Clubs of America in 1982. In 1990, Girls Clubs changed its name to Girls Inc. In 1994, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria began a $2.4 million capital campaign resulting in the building of a 16,000 square foot facility, which tripled its programming capacity.
Currently, Girls Inc. serves over 600 girls and young women ages five to eighteen and their families each year at our facility, as well as 1,000 youths in the schools. Of the Girls Inc. constituency, 53 percent are Caucasian, 43 percent Latina, 2 percent African-American, and 2 percent Asian or Pacific Islander. More than 50 percent are from lower- to middle-income and/or single-parent homes. Girls Inc. does not turn anyone away and offers scholarships on a sliding-scale to any family in need.