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Annual Artizan’s Ball Inspires ‘A Night in Gay Paris’ to Benefit the Sarah House

Santa Barbara Women's Club-Rockwood hosts a festive fundraising soirée on behalf of the HIV/AIDS hospice care home

The festive 20th annual holiday benefit “A Night in Gay Paris” Artizan’s Ball was the passport to an extraordinary evening filled with sophistication, style, romance and an inspiring tribute to Paris held at the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club-Rockwood on Dec. 10 with more than 300 guests benefiting 20 years of compassionate end-of-life care provided by the Sarah House.

“We want this holiday party to be a fun and festive event, but it’s for a serious need so it’s got all the qualities for some sense of urgency and also some celebration,” said Randall Sunday, Sarah House executive director. “Dying well is very connected with living well, so it’s important to communicate loving kindness because that’s how we care for the people at the house and that’s a good way to live your life as well.”

The Sarah House, a nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara and the first “social model” hospice residence in the nation, provides end-of-life care for low-income and homeless individuals and 24-hour care for those living with or dying from HIV/AIDS in the community.

Since 1995, the Sarah House, a beautiful eight-bedroom hospice care home, has provided medical and palliative care for over 250 clients living with AIDS. And, in 2005, the organization expanded their services to include holistic care in an effort to provide spiritual and emotional needs to their residents.

The Rockwood Woman’s Club, nestled among the lush vegetation of oak and sycamore trees on the edge of Mission Canyon, was vibrant with holiday decorations and the atmosphere was abuzz in Parisian flare.

Guests arrived clad in all their finery donning striking Parisian vetement costumes as partygoers entered the brightly lit foyer and strolled by a dual row of pine trees that lined the checkered pathway. And, if you squinted your eyes and employed a hint of imagination, the scene resembled the famous Champs-Elysees in France.

Patrons stopped to pose for pictures alongside a large-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower embellished with glistening holiday lights, and also helped themselves to one of the numerous glasses of champagne that surrounded its base.

Guest Judi Weisbart, who has been involved with the nonprofit community in Santa Barbara for more than 30 years, said that organizations such as the Sarah House impact the heart of the community.

“Sarah House reaches out and cares for those who need help by offering them a place to die with respect and love and feel like they are truly at home,” Weisbart said.

The main ballroom resembled a classic French bistro and the walls were tastefully fashioned with Parisian art and décor that filled the expanse of the room beside oval wooden tables draped in cream tablecloths with romantic candlelight, and even the chairs were decorated with bows in colors of the French flag.

The “Gay Paris” theme was further enhanced by French street music performed by the Dixie Hicks as guests enjoyed refined, varied and delicious French inspired dishes prepared by New West Catering.

Some of the fine offerings included cheeses with seasonal fruit, quiche Lorraine, pear and brie tartlette, Gigot D’Agneau on baguettes with garlic jam, Grand Marnier chocolate orange tart and the crowd pleasing champagne-chambord ice pops. Other scrumptious delicacies included tantalizing soup du jour prepared by the Organic Soup Kitchen and warm, freshly made crepes by Mimosa.

Wandering performers, magicians, unicyclists, tango dancers and hoop dancers mingled with the elated crowd as the pitch in the room grew dense with laughter and heightened conversation.

Over the swarm of excitement, guests found their way to Galeries Lafayette, where an assemblage of silent auction items on display included original paintings, gift collections, vacation getaways, gift certificates and fashionable jewelry with unique clothing and trendy hats.

Alma Rose, sponsor and judge of the costume contest and owner of Paris Street Boutique, stood proudly beside a display table overflowing with vintage Paris chic fashions and accessories as her face beamed looking at guests dressed for the theme and declared that she would have a difficult time choosing the winners.

“I’m looking for originality and the ones with the most French flare,” Rose said. “There are so many great French costumes on women but the men here are pretty sassy, too. I’m seeing the Roaring ‘20s to Napoleon Bonaparte and old French artist costumes that are very original, as well as even more current costumes that are absolutely just gorgeous and fit within the whole theme of the party.”

Highlights of the evening included the Fauxtales Fashion Show that featured elaborate costumes ranging from traditional to whimsical and romantic street attire with eye-popping contours and spectacular animal inspired headpieces made from hand-dyed feathers, African porcupine quills, bone, horn and hair remnants created by local artists Toree Arntz and Kate Marie Thompson, owners of Fauxtale Design.

“All of our head ornaments are animal sensitive and sustainable, which means we honor the Earth and its creatures by using only the best quality faux and recycled products,” Arntz said.

The 8 Kan-Kan Dance Exhibition organized by Alicia LeVan and Sabine Dahl followed the fashion show with lively and flirtatious dance numbers performed by members of the Naughty/Nize Girlz Production that drove just about every audience member into a celebratory frenzy.

Next, the winners of the costume contest, Dennis Forster and Galina Brouw, were invited onstage by Rose to receive their awards.

And the night raged on as the dance floor transformed into a Parisian disco as DJ Mr. Hurley Live spun thumping beats into the night.

“I got involved with Sarah House because I have a dear friend in New York who passed away of AIDS, and originally Sarah House was a home for anyone with HIV. And then we changed our mission statement because with the help of medication people now live with HIV,” event chair Kerrie Kilpatrick-Weinberg said. “Five years ago we decided to include the homeless, low-income and dying poor and that is what Sarah House is now — a hospice for anybody who earns less than $28,000 a year who can come to us and be with us until they take their last breath.”

The mission at the Sarah House is to provide care to those in need regardless of their ability to pay and proceeds from the event benefited Sarah House. Click here for more information about the organization, and click here for information about ways to help, including online donations. Click here to connect with Sarah House on Facebook.

Sarah House would like to thank the following sponsors for making the event possible:

Individual Sponsors

» Arc du Triomphe: Steve Tisch­
» The Louvre: Bill Hughes and Linda Lorenzen-Hughes, James Carroll of the Jean Perkins Foundation, and the Bialis Family Foundation
» Eiffel Tower: Diane Meyer Simon, Kerrie Kilpatrick-Weinberg and Henry Weinberg.
» Sacre Coeur: Rick and Erin Knowles, Patsy Tisch. Jeffrey C. and Margo Baker Barbakow, and the Friesen Family Foundation
» Champs-Elysées: Georgia Noble, William Tisch, Victoria Jackson, Hilary Tisch, John Beug, Jean Lange Davis and Dave Davis, and Mary Ellen Trainor Zemeckis
» Latin Quarter: Hallie Anderson, Karen Borick, Serena Carroll, Fritz Krainer, Nancy Swift-Furlotti, Dante E. Tognazzi Jr., Cathie Walker, Harry and Judy Weisbart, and Lori Lewis

Business Sponsors

Assisted Home Hospice Care, Bill Yingst & Melissa Gough—Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Mike Brashears Insurance, Dennis Forster CFP, Encanto, Hammock, Arnold, Smith & Company­, Holehouse Construction Company, Independent, Paris Street Boutique, Renaud’s Bakery, Renaissance Fine Consignment, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Techtonic Games, Bill Terry Insurance and Victorian Vogue.

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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