Friday, March 23 , 2018, 1:53 pm | Mostly Cloudy 61º


Calcagno & Hamilton Real Estate Offers Office for AHA! Fundraiser

Members of the AHA! team visit the office of Calcagno & Hamilton.
Members of the AHA! team visit the office of Calcagno & Hamilton. (Courtesy photo)

The Calcagno & Hamilton real estate team, a Montecito-based affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, opened its Coast Village Road office to local nonprofit AHA! in an effort to help the organization gain community awareness and raise funding.

“The goal was for more and more people to learn about us and help us reach our goal of reaching more students in our area,” said AHA! Executive Director Jennifer Freed, who oversaw the two-day event, which featured team building demonstrations, oracular readings, refreshments and a meet-and-greet with students and staff.

An acronym for attitude, harmony and achievement, AHA! was formed in 1999 following the shocking school massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

“We wanted to help ensure that Santa Barbara was a place where no one felt left out and help protect our schools from school violence,” Freed explained.

The nonprofit, which employees 20 staff members, brings state of the art social and emotional programs to local schools, reaching 2500 students each year.

“Those students then reach out to an additional 6000 students through peer programming,” Freed explained. 

The program, which is in every high school in Santa Barbara and one junior high school, helps build life skills such as responsibility, communication, teamwork, effective relationship skills and more.

Thirty-five students from each school meet once a week with several highly trained facilitators, who lead the groups. The leaders serve as role models and mentors to the students, who are of every demographic.

Students are encouraged to join AHA! after learning about the program, or they may be referred to the program by a teacher or administrator.

Freed’s goal is to reach the other three junior highs in the area: Goleta Valley, La Colina, and La Cumbre.

The program exists entirely on grants and donations. 

The awareness event at the Calcagno & Hamilton offices raised over $11,000, including a generous gift from Ellen DeGeneres, who praised the nonprofit for its valuable work in the community.

The event also featured the singing of AHA! participant Brandi, who garnered the attention of a prominent music producer who happened to be passing by and heard her singing.

“We were moved and touched by the generosity demonstrated by the Montecito community, especially the C&H team for hosting us,” said Freed.

“Our goal in opening this office has always been to share the space with organizations whose missions we connect with,” said C&H partner Nancy Hamilton. “What AHA! is doing for our community is so valuable, and we were happy to share our special office space with them to help them reach their goal.”

To learn more about AHA!, visit its website.

The real estate team of Calcagno & Hamilton specializes in Santa Barbara and Montecito homes, and is among the top 0.5 percent of Berkshire Hathaway agents nationwide.

Sean Killian is a member of Calcagno & Hamilton’s community outreach team.

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