After hosting a virtual campaign in place of the Red Feather Ball in 2020, United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) returned to an in-person event for the 24th annual Red Feather event, held Oct. 8. The organization raised $220,000.
Due to lingering restrictions and safety concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way reformatted the event format from the traditional indoor ball to an outdoor reception held in two parts.
The first portion of the evening, Act I, was held at the private estate of Xorin Balbes and Truman Davies. Guests celebrated at the newly renovated property alongside the event’s six co-chairs: Shari Liu Fellows, Amber Ortiz, Nati Smith, Belle Hahn, Lily Hahn and Fran Kirchmair, and honorary committee members.
Over the course of the evening, attendees heard from Fellows, event co-chair and member of the United Way board of directors, followed by commentary from Steve Ortiz, president/CEO of the organization.
The brief presentation focused on the importance of United Way’s educational programming, which has become even more essential with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and well-being of students of Santa Barbara County.
“The primary purpose of this event is to raise funds for United Way’s core educational partnerships that serve thousands of students, countywide, each year. Our largest program, Fun in the Sun, is Santa Barbara County’s oldest and largest public/private partnership dedicated to long-term educational improvement in the lives of low-income children and families.
“This year, we also incorporated a robust mindfulness program, providing students with access to yoga, meditation, and nature programs to encourage a connection with self and mental/ emotional wellness. This curriculum has played an essential role in bringing these children into a safe environment to find their own emotional balance, connect with caring educators, and help them cope with the turbulent outside world.”
After the formal reception at Act I came to a close, guests were escorted two doors down to the home of Michael and Nati Smith for music, cocktails and dancing.
Traditionally, the Red Feather event is a primary source of funds for United Way’s educational programs, including the award-winning Fun in the Sun summer program and the local United Learning Centers.
In 2019, the Red Feather Ball broke records as the highest grossing fundraiser in the organization’s history. For the 2021 campaign, United Way was able to meet all expected fundraising goals while also expanding their donor base and building new connections. United Way credits their supportive network with this success and looks forward to a return to their traditional ball next year.
UWSBC) has the positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own initiatives that involve dozens of local nonprofit and public sector agencies.
UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership priorities help children, families and seniors with a focus on education, income and health. To learn more, visit unitedwaysb.org.