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‘Polynesian Holiday’ Sets the Mood for Transition House Auxiliary’s Mad Hatter Luncheon

Color, humor and creativity brighten the festive event benefiting homeless families with children

Transition House Executive Director Kathleen Baushke and board president Jim Buckley at the 19th annual Mad Hatter Luncheon at the Fess Parker Resort to benefit Transition House of Santa Barbara.
Transition House Executive Director Kathleen Baushke and board president Jim Buckley at the 19th annual Mad Hatter Luncheon at the Fess Parker Resort to benefit Transition House of Santa Barbara. (Rochelle Rose)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

“Polynesian Holiday” was the festive theme of the 19th annual Mad Hatter Luncheon at the Fess Parker Resort benefiting homeless families with children at Transition House in Santa Barbara. Every guest was greeted and presented a colorful lei when they arrived while listening to the happy tunes of the Ukulele Lulus group perform in the hotel foyer.

Transition House is dedicated to solving family homelessness in the Santa Barbara community by offering shelter, housing and effective anti-poverty services to motivated families who strive for a better life.

The “Mad Hatter” theme brought out nostalgia, humor and creativity in many of the attendees’ chapeaux. The father-son duo of Bill and Ryan Giordano donned large straw hats with an assortment of colorful beanie babies.

“We had to reinforce the hat brims with boards to hold all the adornments,” Ryan Giodiano said.

Barbara Brashears took the nostalgic route with her own small gray flower, feather and netted vintage chapeau. Gail Thompson wore a cheery yellow dress with a matching arrangement of yellow orchids on her head, which matched her blonde hair.

Local celebrity Andrew Firestone served as a masterful emcee who encouraged the crowd to bid high on the live and silent auctions. Firestone told the crowd, “Thank you for bringing me back. I love to help Transition House. You are doing something right when you are able to get Mr. Santa Barbara Larry Crandell to attend. He just celebrated his 92nd birthday!”

After an active silent auction, longtime event chair Diane White welcomed everyone to enjoy a teriyaki chicken Polynesian salad lunch.

“I have chaired this event on and off for nearly 20 years,” White told Noozhawk. “I am so committed to the good work of Transition House.”

White was assisted by Auxiliary president Florence Michel, as well as a large volunteer committee. Stand-outs included decorations chairs Wendy Clapp and Pat St. Chair, silent auction head Missy Sheldon, grand prizes chair Diane White and Mary Anne Harrison, publicity by Jean Keely, and reservations by Darline Amundsen.

Board president Jim Buckley lauded the hardworking volunteers, staff and all-important sponsors, who included Curvature (which commanded three tables), the Jim & Beverly Zaleski Foundation, Bunnin Chevrolet & Cadillac, Jeff Dinkin, Montecito Bank & Trust, Missy and Chuck Sheldon, Becky and Pete Adams, Nancy Crawford, Calla Gold and many others. Gallup & Stribing Orchids was credited for the colorful flowers that adorned the cocktail drinks and centerpieces.

“The Transition House Auxiliary is with us all year long,” Buckley said. “They are doing special things for our children and are part of the 1,000 volunteers a year that help Transition House.”

Joining Buckley on stage was Executive Director Kathleen Baushke, who described in depth the work of Transition House.

“The parents just want to end the suffering of being homeless and not having a secure home for their children,” Baushke said. “But we don’t provide just the housing. We teach the parents how to achieve lasting financial security by establishing savings accounts and helping them find steady employment. Seventy-five percent of our families have succeeded to move into their own apartments after participating in our program. We are breaking the cycle of generational poverty.”

Click here for more information about Transition House, or call 805.966.9668.

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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