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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 7:22 am | Fair 47º


Blues on the Bayou Event Celebrates 15-Year Mark for Santa Barbara Rescue Mission

Fundraising event expected to bring in $400,000 for the Rescue Mission's residential recovery program and other services

Rebecca Weber, Susan Hughes, Suzi Ryan, and Pamela Gilbert helped make the Blues on the Bayou event a success. Click to view larger
Rebecca Weber, Susan Hughes, Suzi Ryan, and Pamela Gilbert helped make the Blues on the Bayou event a success.  (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]


This year marks the 15th year of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s annual Back to the Bayou event. This year the Rescue Mission’s energetic 65-member Women’s Auxiliary, which organizes the event, dubbed this year’s event Blues on the Bayou.

The theme was carried out with saxophonist Ron McCarley and his quartet belting out well-known blues tunes throughout the afternoon, blue-hydrangeas clustered around the podium, and exquisite blue and lavender themed table settings, as well as many guests who donned blue and indigo clothing for the fete.

The casual afternoon event was held outdoors at the historic Rancho Dos Pueblos estate located just north of Goleta under groves of towering trees. Gratitude was expressed to the ranch owners Henry and Dundi Schulte for providing the unique venue.

After lots of bidding at the silent auction tables, guests feasted on sumptuous Louisiana cuisine created by Lorraine Lim Catering. Funds raised at the event make it possible for the Rescue Mission to offer a successful 12-month residential recovery program, and beds for homeless guests. 

This year Silvio Di Loreto was honored with the Léni Fé Bland Award. Introduced by longtime Rescue Mission supporter Gerd Jordano, Di Loreto was recognized for the important role he has played in the history of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and for his help securing the real estate where the facility now resides on Yanonali Street.

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission president Rolf Geyling, honoree Silvio Di Loreto, and board chair Karl Willig attend the Blues on the Bayou event. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Rescue Mission president Rolf Geyling, honoree Silvio Di Loreto, and board chair Karl Willig attend the Blues on the Bayou event.  (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

It was anticipated that this year’s Bayou event will again raise $400,000 to assist people seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

To date, the Rescue Mission has helped over 679 people achieve recovery in the last 19 years. “While only 21 percent of those completing treatment programs nationally maintain their sobriety beyond five years, we are proud that 51 percent of our graduates remain in recovery over this same time period,” Rescue Mission President Rolf ​Geyling said.

Top patrons included Hank and Maureen Bowis, Cottage Health, Ron and Terry Foil, Frank Schipper Construction, David and Anna Grotenhuis, Kiah and Anna Jordan, Cal and Phyllis Marble, Suzi Ray, Karl & Julie Willig, Soctt and Sharon Wilson, Rolf and Trish Geyling, Ramone & Anne Gupta, HUB International, Bob and Janet Kates, Montecito Bank & Trust, Ian and Joyce Ritchie, George and Beth Wood, and many others.

Deserving credit for the event’s success were Bayou event chairs Susan Hughes and ​Suzi Ryan, SBRM Women’s Auxiliary Chair Andrea Preiser, decorations chair Dianne Davie, silent auction coordinators Rose Hodge and Terry Foil and many more. Emcee Catherine Remak kept the program going smoothly!

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission client Ian gave a heartfelt speech on his journey to recovery.

“Six years ago, today, I was in the men’s program at the Mission. I had been there for about 16 days and was only just starting to feel human again,” he said.

The Ron McCarley quartet belted out some great blues tunes for the Blues on the Bayou fete. Click to view larger
The Ron McCarley quartet belted out some great blues tunes for the Blues on the Bayou fete. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

“I was 41 years old, completely broke, divorced twice, and at absolute rock bottom. I was at the end of a 28-year love affair with alcohol. Everything that I had spent my life gaining was gone. My story is one of a man whose life, on the surface, looked to be under control, but underneath is a story of the slow accrual and inevitable total destruction that comes when hubris and addiction are allowed to coexist, for decades.

“Counter to many stories that you may hear from people in my position, I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up in Santa Barbara, the only son in a loving family. I spent my early childhood associated with the church and at 12 or 13 came to accept Christ.”

However in high school, Ian said that something snapped inside him. Daily drinking became the norm. He decided to join the California Army National Guard and later the U.S. Army serving in the Middle East.

However, after returning to the States, his marriage and his military service ended within weeks of each other, and for the next 20 years his life spiraled downward.

“So this brings us to the part of my story where the circle comes full,” Ian continued.

“The part where we get to see the gracious mercy of the most faithful and patient God. It was His voice that I’d ignored for all those years. In a single year — the time I would come to spend in the Rescue Mission’s men’s program — God restored everything it had taken me well over 20 to destroy.

“Today I have a good position at a large, growing company in Goleta and a wonderful family. I have a beautiful wife and an amazing step-daughter. But the most amazing work that God has done in my life happened since I’ve left the Mission.

"We have in our home a young baby. Drugs and alcohol left him without a viable family to care for him. Whether this is long-term, or short, we are not sure. The future of this child will be shaped by the work you have done. And it is for this that I am most grateful.”

For more information, visit the Rescue Mission website here or contact Rebecca M. Weber, director of communications and constituent relations of Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, call 805.966.1316 extension 105. ​

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission Women’s Auxiliary members Marna Coday, Cheryl Barbaria, Carolyn Savage, and Pam Sneddon. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Rescue Mission Women’s Auxiliary members Marna Coday, Cheryl Barbaria, Carolyn Savage, and Pam Sneddon.  (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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