Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 8:28 am | Overcast 66º


Friendship Center Feels the Love at 19th Annual Festival of Hearts Fundraiser

Its signature benefit event with an 'Alice in Wonderland' theme had $50,000 goal to support dependent adults and their families


For the 19th year, the Friendship Center celebrated its signature special event — the Festival of Hearts — on Saturday with a “Queen of Hearts” theme from Alice in Wonderland lore.

Held a few days before Valentine’s Day at The Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort, the festival featured a sit-down luncheon, a social hour with Fess Parker wines, and musical entertainment by the Montecito Jazz Project led by Tom Towle. The silent auction featured "heart-oriented" Heart Art, including colorful and creative paper mache hearts painted by local artists, celebrities and community members.

More than 150 attendees gathered in the hotel foyer for the pre-lunch social hour and silent auction, and then left to the Reagan Room for the program and a colorful luncheon plate of salmon, potatoes, yellow tomatoes, red onions and capers.

All proceeds supported Friendship Center’s HEART (Help Elders At Risk Today) Program, subsidizing the cost of adult day services for low-income aging and dependent adults and their families. The Friendship Center is located on the All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church property on Eucalyptus Road in Montecito and has an additional facility in Goleta.

“We are so happy with the turnout and hopeful that we will reach our goal of $50,000 raised to support these much-needed programs for elders and dependent adults in our community, as well as respite for their caregivers,” Justine Sutton, Friendship Center development and grants director, told Noozhawk.

Event emcee and longtime auctioneer Gail Rappaport said, “Funds raised today subsidize low-income families that use our adult daytime care program. Eighty percent of people using the center are subsidized.”

Rappaport then led the live auction with packages such as the Twisted Tea Party (tea-based cocktails and elegant nibbles delivered to your door), Alice’s Magical Stay-cation (fall down the Funk Zone rabbit hole with hotel stays, wine-tasting, restaurant gift cards and entertainment), Drink Me! (a venture to the Santa Ynez Valley for a wonderland of wine tasting), and more.

Opening the program was board president Pat Forgey.

Pali X-Mano and Charlene Brody get into the spirit of the festival’s “Alice in Wonderland” theme.
Pali X-Mano and Charlene Brody get into the spirit of the festival’s “Alice in Wonderland” theme. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

“We are always thankful to All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church for housing the Friendship Center since 1979," Forgey said. "Here are some facts about caregivers. Thirty-five percent of caregivers are responsible for their loved ones for an average of five to 10 years; 15 percent are providing care for over 10 years. It is very important to have the Friendship Center to provide services and respite for caregivers.”

Program manager Kathryn Cherkas told Noozhawk: “Due to the fire and debris flood, the Friendship Center in Montecito was closed from Dec. 7 to Jan. 2 and then Jan. 9-20. Fortunately, our Goleta campus was able to remain open and to accommodate some of our Montecito clients. The administrative staff worked out of the conference room of First American Title on Upper State Street in Santa Barbara, who generously donated this office space so we could continue to operate.”

Event Committee members included co-chairs Pamela Vander Heide and Karolyn Hanna, Greta Liedke, Kathy Marden, Sue Adams and Dana VanderMey assisted by Sutton, Executive Director Heidi Holly and many other staff members and volunteers, including heart wrangler Sharon Morrow and her heart posse, who garnered Heart Art for the silent auction.

The festival was supported by board members Forgey, vice president Roger Aceves, secretary Dana VanderMey, CFO Jacqueline Duran, Pamela Vander Heide, Marti Correa de Garcia, Lynda Fairly, Julie McGeever, Dana, Monica Vidger-Trent, Joe Holland, Andy Siegel, Matt Lum, Karolyn Hanna and Joe Wheatley.

Sponsors included:

Gold Heart

» Casa Dorinda

» HUB International Insurance Services Inc.

» MarBorg Industries

» Union Bank

Silver Heart

» David and Louise Borgatello

» Cal-Western & Pacific Tree

» CenCal Health

» Rosewood Miramar Beach Resort

Big Heart

» Castle Wealth Planning LLC
» Lynda Fairly
» John and Susan Hanna
» Penny Mathison and Don Nulty
» Santa Barbara Foundation
» Dr. and Mrs. Randall VanderMey

Good Heart

» Boone Graphics

» Tom and Nancy Crawford

» Fess Parker Winery

» First American Title Co.

» Media 27

» Senior Planning Services

Kind Heart

» Patricia Forgey

» Garcia Architects Inc.

» Karolyn Hanna

» Ken and Francie Jewesson

» Kathy Marden and Pamela Vander Heide

» Mariposa at Ellwood Shores

» Mary Walsh

» Harvey and Janet Wolf

Friendship Center was founded by the Community Action Commission as a day care pilot project for elder and dependent adults in a small church in Santa Barbara, Friendship Baptist — hence, the name.

The program grew, and All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church offered a larger space on its property in Montecito in 1979. It is licensed by Community Care Licensing as a social model adult day care center.

The center’s goal is to provide social contact, companionship, engaging activities, nourishing meals and supervision for the dependent adults. For family caregivers, the center offers respite from the demands of caregiving.

In 2011, the Friendship Center Goleta opened on the grounds of Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation on Fairview Avenue. A new program contracts with Veterans Affairs to allow eligible veterans to attend their day program up to five days per week, free of charge.

Click here for more information about Friendship Center, or contact Sutton at 805.969.0859 or [email protected].

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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