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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 4:31 pm | Fair 55º


United Way of Santa Barbara County Goes Red, Hot and Swing for Red Feather Ball

Jean Schuyler, Santa Barbara County honored with Abercrombie Community Excellence Awards for longtime commitments

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Guests adorned in red gowns and black tie turned out for the 18th Annual Red Feather Ball benefiting United Way of Santa Barbara County and honoring this year’s recipients of the Abercrombie Community Excellence Awards, Jean Schuyler and the County of Santa Barbara.

A theme of “Red, Hot and Swing” created a Rat Pack vibe, bringing together community leaders and philanthropists for a fun night of big-band era and Golden Age jazz-inspired music at the scenic Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore.

Proceeds from the Red Feather Ball supported United Way’s national award-winning Fun in the Sun and United for Literacy programs to provide multiservice educational school programs to students from infancy to adulthood.

“This is the big fundraiser for those programs,” said Paul Didier, United Way president and CEO. “So all the folks here, there’s a number of teachers and principals, they will all benefit from the money that we raise tonight.”

Event planner extraordinaire Merryl Brown created a stunning setting that showcased the company’s recent awards for the 2014 Special Events Association for Women in Communications Clarion Award and Best Wedding under $75,000 ISES Esprit Award finalist.

Jean Schuyler and the County of Santa Barbara were recognized as the evening’s honorees and representing the County were Salud Carbajal, Ben Romo Tom Parker, Joe Holland, Glen Russel, Mona Miyasato and Katie Torres. 

Schulyer has been a founder and supporter to local organizations for more than 40 years, working to improve the education, health and safety for Santa Barbara’s most vulnerable women, children and families.

With her late husband, Barry, the Schuylers contributed to Ellwood Mesa, Douglas Family Preserve and the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, and supported excellence in secondary and higher education at Midland and Laguna Blanca schools, Santa Barbara City College and UC Santa Barbara.

She also has been honored for her work with Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County and Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura & San Luis Obispo Counties, and she has served on various boards, including United Way.

Over 30 years, Santa Barbara County employees have raised $3.7 million for local nonprofit organizations, including United Way of Santa Barbara County.

The county’s programs and expertise include the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services (ADMHS) supporting services to more than 7,500 clients with mental illness and 4,500 clients with substance abuse disorders. The Department of Social Services provides programs to keep families and individuals safe and sufficient in our community. First 5 supports the health and well-being and early learning of children through age 5 and their families.

The county’s generous employee giving includes volunteer hours and a fundraising campaign assisting with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Fun in the Sun educational programs.

The year-round educational programs include learning materials, parent-child teaching methods and online services designed to improve student literacy and increase the number of local high school graduates.

“In the past year we’ve expanded our united for literacy program,” Didier told Noozhawk. “We now have 23 schools participating. We’ve got over 5,000 students per week improving their reading, writing and arithmetic skills.”

United for Literacy’s four primary educational programs include Bornlearning, a parent-based program that encourages daily engagement between parent and child from birth to 5 years of age. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library also provides new and free age-appropriate books to low-income children from birth to kindergarten.

“We actually have programs with three kindergarteners all the way to grade 16, so college seniors, and we even have some senior citizens participating,” Didier said.

The Fun in the Sun program serves low-income students each summer with an array of educational programs, including Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (STEAM); financial literacy; health services; and lunch bunch mentors.

Didier emphasized the impact of the evening for the important United Way of Santa Barbara County programs.

“This is the largest single event we do to raise money for Fun in the Sun, which is our national award-winning summer learning program and our United for Literacy projects,” he said.

Noozhawk contributing writer Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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