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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 3:08 am | Overcast 60º


Dream Foundation Celebrates Volunteers at Flower Empower Luncheon

Fifth annual event honors those who assemble and deliver 150 fresh bouquets a week throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties

Special Volunteers of the Year Robin and Roger Himovitz with Kisa Heyer, Dream Foundation executive director, center, at the fifth annual Flower Empower Luncheon.
Special Volunteers of the Year Robin and Roger Himovitz with Kisa Heyer, Dream Foundation executive director, center, at the fifth annual Flower Empower Luncheon. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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The Dream Foundation held its fifth annual Flower Empower Luncheon at an oceanfront “exclusive meadow” on Padaro Lane in Summerland.

The unique outdoor venue and the great cause attracted more than 200 attendees to support the national dream-granting organization for adults battling life-threatening illness and their families. Net proceeds from the event are vital to supporting the volunteer-driven program.

This annual event celebrates the dedicated volunteers who assemble and deliver 150 fresh bouquets a week to hospices, cancer centers, nursing homes and personal residences throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Flower Empower does more than deliver flowers. It teaches empathy, builds youth confidence, raises social awareness, and helps strengthen and build community.

“Flower Empower would not be possible without the compassion and energy of our volunteers,” said Kisa Heyer, the Dream Foundation’s executive director. “We are tremendously grateful to the businesses and individuals who generously donate their time, goods and services to make a difference in this community we cherish.”

Christine Costner also spoke to the crowd.

“My husband, Kevin (Costner), couldn’t attend with me this year due to his work schedule, but I wanted you to know how committed we are to the Dream Foundation, its mission and today’s event,” she said.

Event hosts Shirin Rajaee and Alan Rose of KEYT News-Channel 3 did a repeat performance this year as emcees — an easy task for the duo, who both are committed and active volunteers in the Flower Empower program.

“I have been a volunteer with this organization now for five years,” Rose said. “After my first visit to deliver a cheerful bouquet to a patient, I realized how important this program is.

From left, Nina Phillips, Pat Nesbitt, Lisa Lloyd, Eric Phillips and Tracy Bollag at the Flower Empower Luncheon. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)
From left, Nina Phillips, Pat Nesbitt, Lisa Lloyd, Eric Phillips and Tracy Bollag at the Flower Empower Luncheon. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

“And we are just the messengers; there is a tremendous amount of work put in by the volunteers who make the bouquets, the floral donors and the infrastructure that makes this happen.”

Rajaee agreed.

“With my schedule I wake up at 3 a.m.,” she said. “But I still make time to make my deliveries. It is so rewarding and I sometimes spend over an hour with the people that I visit twice a week.

“Sometimes I get an email and learn that someone I have visited has passed, but I know that I have had a part in making an amazing moment by delivering a Flower Empower bouquet.”

The outdoor luncheon was served family style on long, decorated tables; nearby were tall eucalyptus trees and panoramic ocean views. Chefs Jessica Byron, Theresa Koeniz and Gabriele Moes from Seasons Catering provided delicious hors d’ouevres, spring beans with French radishes and Dutch Farm beets, grilled flank steak with chimichurri, roasted chicken breast, kale and Brussels sprout salad, followed by a dessert of strawberry shortcakes served in mason jars.

This year’s program sponsors were Santa Barbara residents Diane and Tim Brown and Lisa and George Hagerman. Nora McNeely-Hurley was honorary chairwoman.

The following program supporters were honored at the event: Special Volunteers of the Year Robin and Roger Himovitz; Volunteers of the Year Lauren and William Bonds; Youth Volunteer of the Year Casey Slaught; and in-kind Donor of the Year Jill Marie and Jean-Michel Carre, owners of Chocolats du Cali Bressan.

Beverages were provided by Beau Joie Champagne, Santa Barbara Winery, Fess Parker and Consilience.

Top sponsors included the Rudi Schulte Family Foundation, Shelley and Paul Schulte, Tracy and Michael Bollag, Nora McNeely-Hurley and Michael Hurley, Lynette Hall, Robin Himovitz, Thomas Rollerson, Esther and Virginia Urschel, Bui and Herb Simon, Elizabeth and Kenny Slaught, and Roxanna and Randall Solakian, Montecito Bank & Trust, Rabobank, Takeda Oncology Co. and many more.

Founded in 1994, the Dream Foundation serves more than 2,500 dreams each year and relies on a network of volunteers, sponsors and individual donors. In 2014, Flower Empower delivered, on average, 150 bouquets each week, and since its inception 20 years ago tens of thousands. The program currently delivers to 29 facilities in addition to private residences.

Click here for more information about the Dream Foundation, or call 805.564.2131.

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.

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