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Karen Telleen-Lawton: Meet Up Midday with Santa Barbara ‘Lunch & Learns’

Looking for an interesting way to spend a weekday lunchtime? “Lunch & Learns” have popped up as a great alternative to the usual sandwich-at-the-desk routine. On a random weekday, you can enjoy a light lunch and meet dedicated workers and volunteers in a number of fields. Plus, you can glean some knowledge about anything from technology user experience to women in recovery; from senior day care to hospice services.

SBUX organizes occasional Lunch & Learns through Santa Barbara Meetups. This group is for anyone interested in creating good user experiences on technology devices like smartphones and computers, including designers, researchers, editors, developers and users themselves. SBUX’s goal is “to foster specific, focused discussion in a small and casual group environment.” Its April Lunch & Learn, at Silvergreens Restaurant, focused on communicating design ideas within a team and organization.

Casa Serena considers its Lunch & Learns among its best-kept secrets. The nonprofit has provided a safe place for women to recover from alcohol and drug addiction for more than 50 years. Staffer Christina Kelley provides a short tour of most of the house and arranges a brief talk by one of the executive staff. Then one of the many successful former residents shares her experience with the group.

Casa Serena has an upcoming L&L on Oct. 18. Contact Kelley at 805.966.1260 or [email protected] for more details.

The Friendship Center’s Friday Lunch & Learns are a relaxed and typically sunny affair. Friendship Center, on the premises of All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, offers seniors affordable quality adult care. They have been “sharing the care” by providing respite care for caregivers since 1976.

When I lunched there in September, I sat at one of six or seven tables in a sunny central courtyard at the hacienda-style facility. We shared umbrella-shaded tables with contentedly-looking seniors on the patio graced with geraniums, palms, oak trees and a cupid statue. The kitchen manager, Carmen, prepared a tasty meal that was served by a volunteer named Judy. Robo the clown — another frequent volunteer — entertained.

Executive Director Heidi Holly ate with us and talked about the activities available to the members, ranging from music and crafts to field trips and discussions.

“We plan these lunches so people can see the lovely atmosphere and get a feel for what we do," she said. "If anyone is interested in the Lunch & Learn programs, please don’t hesitate to call me.”

Hospice of Santa Barbara holds frequent Learn & Lunch programs for staff, volunteers, board, friends and anyone else who is curious. Their purpose is to “deepen our knowledge of issues related to our work and to give us practical ideas we can apply.” Each program has a theme, such as “Living and Dying Well” and “Spiritual Care at Cottage Hospital.” Lunch & Learns are usually the second and fourth Mondays of the month.

Organizational Lunch & Learns help businesses and nonprofits share with the community about their services. A major side benefit is to strengthen the communication within and outside their community. Most are free and all are guaranteed to provide you with a window into another rich area of Santa Barbara life.

— Karen Telleen-Lawton’s column is a mélange of observations spanning sustainability from the environment to finance, economics and justice issues. She is a fee-only financial advisor (www.DecisivePath.com) and a freelance writer (www.CanyonVoices.com). Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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