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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 10:11 pm | Fair 49º


Hope Blooms at Dream Foundation’s Annual Flower Empower Luncheon

Supporters gather at historic Bates Ranch House to raise funds and awareness for organization's programs and dream-granting mission

Dream Foundation Advisory Committee member Lizzie Tobias, left, board president Kenny Slaught and Dream Foundation CEO Kisa Heyer at the Dream Foundation’s sixth annual Flower Empower Luncheon held Thursday at the Bates Ranch House overlooking Rincon Point near Carpinteria.
Dream Foundation Advisory Committee member Lizzie Tobias, left, board president Kenny Slaught and Dream Foundation CEO Kisa Heyer at the Dream Foundation’s sixth annual Flower Empower Luncheon held Thursday at the Bates Ranch House overlooking Rincon Point near Carpinteria. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

The Dream Foundation’s sixth annual Flower Empower Luncheon was held Thursday under cloudy skies and artful white tenting adjacent to the historic Bates Ranch House overlooking Rincon Point near Carpinteria.

Nearly 200 supporters hopped on a bus at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club to travel to the three-acre site with panoramic ocean views. Guests were allowed to tour the five-bedroom, six-bathroom house that was built of handmade adobe bricks by Juliette and Robert Bates beginning in 1928.

Current owners Robbie and Ed Hutto were thanked for lending their grounds for the annual event raising funds for the Flower Empower program, which was started in 1994 and is just one of the many Dream Foundation programs that help fulfill the organization’s dream-granting mission.

About 15 Flower Empower volunteers per week assemble and deliver 150 bouquets. Two days per week, groups of volunteers gather at designated locations, where they arrange bouquets using donated flowers from local growers and then make deliveries to hospices, cancer centers, nursing homes and personal residences.

The Santa Barbara-based Dream Foundation is the nation’s only dream-granting organization for terminally ill adults, and it fulfills final dreams that provide inspiration, comfort and closure at the end of life.


Flower Empower is a local program serving Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Since its inception in 1994, the program has served thousands of community members by providing more than 160,000 bouquets, cookies (homemade by Flower Empower committee member Robin Himovitz), artisanal chocolates (provided by Chocolats du CaliBressan) and cards created by local schoolchildren.

The purpose of Flower Empower is to provide comfort and care to any individual in the community. Flower recipients can be a friend, neighbor, loved one or anyone in need of cheer. Flower delivery referrals come from local cancer centers, nurses, hospices, elder support organizations and the community at large.

Andrew Firestone, co-emcee Ivana Firestone and their daughter, Anja.
Andrew Firestone, co-emcee Ivana Firestone and their daughter, Anja. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

Longtime Dream Foundation volunteers Alan Rose, chief meteorologist at KEYT News, and Ivana Firestone emceed the event.

Dream Foundation CEO Kisa Heyer welcomed the crowd and shared how proud she and the Dream Foundation are that the organization has never turned down a request.

“Flower Empower is an important part of our program locally,” she said. “Since 1994, we have literally distributed tens of thousands of bouquets that brighten the lives of people who are struggling. I am also so happy to report that we have more sponsors of the Flower Empower annual luncheon than ever before. Thank you.”
That afternoon, Dream Foundation board chair Kenny Slaught told Noozhawk, “I have been involved with the organization for nearly 20 years. The first three Flower Empower luncheons were in my home! I am so grateful to support this organization.”
For her part, Firestone told the audience, “I started volunteering with Flower Empower six years ago. It is fitting that we brought our daughter, Anja, here today as she has accompanied me on my Flower Empower visits. A delivered bouquet brings a smile. It shows that the smallest of gestures from the heart can make the biggest difference.”
Firestone introduced the “10 in five minutes” challenge to the audience, through which $10,000 is raised in five minutes. She invited her husband, Andrew, to the stage, where he masterfully encouraged the crowd to reach the goal (along with personally committing to thousands of dollars himself).

In fact, with an enthusiastic $5,000 bid by Nora McNeely-Hurley, the goal was exceeded — reaching the $15,000 mark.

Also recognized for 2016 was Grower of the Year Yoze Van Wingerden, Volunteers of the Year Jan and Jay Anderson, and Youth Volunteer of the Year Delaney Werner.

Acknowledged at the luncheon were program sponsors Diane and Tim Brown, Lisa and George Hagerman, Nissrin Mahmoud and Bob Fuladi, and Alison Wrigley Rusack and Geoffrey Rusack.

Others recognized were Magnolia Sponsors Tracy and Michael Bollag, and Shelley and Paul Schulte (on behalf of the Rudi Schulte Family Foundation); Peony Sponsors Kate and Arthur Coppola, Robin and Roger Himovitz (on behalf of El Capitan Canyon), and Elizabeth and Kenny Slaught; Rose Sponsors Colleen Barnett-Taylor and Michael Taylor, Montecito Bank & Trust, and Roxanna and Randy Solakian; Orchid Sponsors Monica and David Fishman, Roberta and Stan Fishman, Diane and Wells Hughes, Arlington Financial Advisors, Hollye and Jeff Jacobs, Amie Parrish, Bette and Bill Pattis, Justine Roddick and Christina Schlieske, and Daryl and John Stegall; Daisy Sponsors Sally and Clay Dickens, Casa Dorinda, Kimi Matar, Jodi Fishman-Osti and Darren Osti, Christina Rottman, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and Melinda Werner; Event Sponsors Bates Ranch House, Behind the Scenes Floral, Ella and Louie, Florabundance, Jump on the Bus, Rincon Catering, Santa Barbara Airbus, Toast Design Studio, Passion Flowers, and Brooke and Steve Giannetti of Giannetti Home.

The event committee included Lynette Hall, Robin Himovitz, Jodi Fishman-Osti, Thea and Boris Palencia, Amie Parrish, Melinda Rogers, Alan Rose, Shelley Schulte and Steve Shulem. The honorary committee included Jan and Jay Anderson, Diane and Tim Brown, Ivana and Andrew Firestone, Nissrin Mahmoud and Bob Fuladi, Lisa and George Hagerman, Alison Wrigley Rusack and Geoffrey Rusack, Yoze Van Wingerden and The Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.

To refer a flower recipient or for more information, contact the Dream Foundation via email at [email protected] or by phone at 805.564.2131 with name and phone number, the name and address of the person you’re referring, and why you believe the person needs flowers. A flower recipient can be anyone within Santa Barbara and Ventura counties who is in need of cheer.

Click here for more information about the Dream Foundation, or call 805.564.2131. Click here to make an online donation.

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

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