Honoree Betty Brown with her granddaughter Laura Sanchez at Girls Inc. of Carpinteria’s “An Evening in Bloom” gala held Sept. 24 at Westerlay Orchids. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

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iSociety: Rochelle Rose

Carpinteria hosted one of its largest annual fundraisers at “An Evening in Bloom” on Sept. 24 on behalf of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. The unique venue was Westerlay Orchids, where the working greenhouse was transformed into a glamorous dining and auction showcase.

The gala featured brightly decorated tables set among rows of vibrantly colored orchids. The elegant black-tie-optional affair featured a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres hour, red carpet photo opportunity, a dinner buffet by Jack’s Bistro, and live and silent auctions.

This year’s fete honored longtime Carpinterian Betty Brown, a dedicated Girls Inc. advocate, for her commitment to advancing the success of girls and young women.

“Betty is a true believer in Girls Inc.’s mission to cultivate confident, independent girls,” said Stefanie Herrington, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria board president. “She was a critical force in raising funds for the new campus, which greatly expanded Girls Inc.’s reach in the community. We are proud to pay tribute to her exemplary service tonight.”

Brown joined the Girls Inc. board in the late 1980s and immediately recognized that the small residential home it operated out of on Maple Street was too small to serve the girls in the community. Brown and her late husband, Ralph, spearheaded an aggressive capital campaign with a team of volunteers, raising $2.46 million in two years for the design and construction of the 16,000-square-foot farmstyle campus on Foothill Road, which tripled Girls Inc.’s programming capacity.

“Betty was the board’s rock and inspiration during the new facility’s planning process and capital campaign,” said Tim Cohen, who served on the board with Brown and was chairman of the new campus committee. “At board meetings she would always — while pounding her fist on the table softly but firmly — encourage and remind us that ‘we can do this.’”

Following the success of the capital campaign, Brown served as a national member of the board of trustees for Girls Inc. She was a mother adviser to the Rainbow Girls and has been active in the Rotary, Carpinteria Women for Agriculture, Carpinteria Republican Women and the American Heart Association. In 1998, she was honored as Carpinterian of the Year in recognition of her extraordinary service to the community.

Serving as “An Evening in Bloom” co-chairs were board president Stefanie Herrington and volunteer Donna Baird. This year’s honorary chairs were Diamond Sponsors Victor and Susan Schaff from S&S Seeds, All Around Landscape Supply and Santa Ynez Stone & Topsoil.

Event co-chair and board president Stefanie Herrington, right, with co-chair Donna Baird.

Event co-chair and board president Stefanie Herrington, right, with co-chair Donna Baird. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

The Ruby Sponsor was the Bliss family. Emerald Sponsors were Mac Brown Inc., Montecito Bank & Trust, NuSil, and Lucy and Joe Overgaag. Sapphire Sponsors included Kevin and Donna Baird, Bright & Powell, Tim and Janey Cohen, Diane and Clyde Freeman, Griffith & Thornburgh LLP, Gail and Jan Persoon, Rabobank, Mary Louise and Richard Sanchez, Maryan Schall, Nini and Peter Seaman, Union Bank, Elizabeth and Robert Van Eyck, Ed and Nadia Van Wingerden, and Winfred Van Wingerden.

The featured speaker was Sylvia Martinez, a Girls Inc. alumna and National Scholar who shared her personal story of how the organization shaped her life and career. Proud father Trinidad Martinez was in the audience to hear his daughter’s remarks. Martinez works as the program director for Girls Inc. of Greater Los Angeles, where she says she applies her passion for inspiring and empowering girls to help propel them forward, the way Girls Inc. did for her.

“In the seventh grade, I was literally failing all my classes,” Martinez said. “Girls Inc. of Carpinteria helped to turn me around. It had a big impact. I got involved in varsity tennis, soccer, and track and field, where I was a thrower. I was elected junior class president and graduated at the top of my class at Carpinteria High School.”

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria programs inspire girls ages 6 to 18 to be strong, smart and bold and serves more than 700 girls each year, helping them navigate gender, economic and social barriers and grow into healthy, educated and independent adults. In addition, Girls Inc. provides programs that focus on science, math and technology; health and sexuality; economic and financial literacy; sports skills; leadership and advocacy; and media literacy.

For more information about Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, to become a volunteer or to offer support, click here or call 805.684.6364.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at rrose@noozhawk.com. This article includes reportinf Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Trinidad Martinez, left, with his daughter and event speaker Sylvia Martinez and sponsor Clyde Freeman of Montecito Bank & Trust.

Trinidad Martinez, left, with his daughter and event speaker Sylvia Martinez and sponsor Clyde Freeman of Montecito Bank & Trust. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)