Herb Geary,  Robyn Parker, Lynda Tanner, Joanne Gordon and Rick Keith ((Rhianna Mercier / Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care photo))

For the past decade, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club has held the annual Charity Regatta to benefit Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care (VNHC).  

This year marks the 11th Annual “Yachts of Love” Charity Regatta, and on July 21 the Yacht Club hosted a cocktail reception for more than 170 guests to honor past and current Charity Regatta leaders, particularly Dennis Friederich, Ed Brady, and Charles Browning, and to appreciate the 2015 Charity Regatta supporters and sponsors.

Charity Regatta Co-Chair Robyn Parker’s opening statements shared the clear impact of the annual Charity Regatta.

“It’s amazing to stand here and recognize that last year we raised a cumulative $1 million for Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, and because of your support, the legacy continues this year.”  

Parker spoke of her grandfathers Duke Yabsley and RP Richards; her great uncle Pete Churchill, past Commodore of the Yacht Club; and Barry Berkus, Charity Regatta Co-Chair Sarah Berkus-Gower’s grandfather. She continued by acknowledging that both she and Berkus-Gower are continuing the tradition of support in their families.

“It’s the circle of life here at the Yacht Club, which is why it’s a natural fit for us to partner with Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care,” stated Parker. “I look around the room and see so many faces of families who were cared for by VNHC — whether it’s at Serenity House, through the Loan Closet or their home health care services.”

VNHC President & CEO Lynda Tanner thanked Parker and Berkus-Gower for their leadership, and the guests for their contributions.

“We are making a profound difference in our community. Each year, thousands of families are able to live independently, recover from illness or transition at end of life with dignity and comfort through the compassionate and trusted care we provide,” stated Tanner.  

Dennis Friederich, past Commodore of the Yacht Club and Charity Regatta Chair for the first four years, shared stories about the creation of the Charity Regatta by starting at the very beginning.

“Once upon a time (1872 to be exact) a group of sailing enthusiasts banded together to form what was to become Santa Barbara Yacht Club,” said Friederich.

He continued by acknowledging Yacht Club members who were instrumental in the success of launching the Charity Regatta: Tony Papa, Roger Chrisman, Judy Rawles and Bud Toye. He also thanked Tom Parker who served as Charity Regatta Chair for two years, who has now passed the baton to his daughter-in-law Robyn Parker.  

In the end, Friederich reminded the guests: “We were out on that ocean racing for a cause bigger than a trophy and bigger than the club. We were out there to, in some small way hopefully make things a bit easier on those who are at a terribly difficult period in their lives.”

Ed Brady, long time member of the Yacht Club and board emeritus at VNHC, shared his reflections, as he was the board chair of VNHC during the first years of the Charity Regatta. Brady’s statements opened with sharing how the dollars raised by the Charity Regatta helped so many in the community.  

Here is the difference that VNHC made in the community last year:

» Helped nearly 13,500 patients and families maintain their health, live independently, recover from illness or transition at end of life with dignity and comfort.

» Provided over $2 million in charitable community benefit for residents.

» Comforted and cared for 1,070 patients who were terminally ill.

» Provided bereavement support to 1,477 family and community members.

» Visited 2,628 people in their homes to provide nursing and rehabilitative care so they could manage a chronic illness or recover from illness or surgery.

» Provided 111,065 hours of personal care services (meals, transportation and hygiene care) to help older adults live independently.

Brady also honored Charles Browning, the man who fired him up to support VNHC. Browning was an active 10-year member of the Yacht Club, he served as the Yacht Club treasurer in 2007, and he was chosen as the 2009 Skipper of the Year. Browning also served as VNHC Board Chairman from 2002 to 2005, and during his total volunteer tenure of 10 years with the medical nonprofit, he helped facilitate the acquisition of the current VNHC Serenity House site on Miramonte Drive.

In closing, Parker stated, “The reflections that Dennis and Ed shared with us today are the reasons we hold this Regatta each year. This organization [VNHC] affects so many of our very own Yacht Club families and friends in this community.”

Parker concluded by thanking those who had participated and donated.

“We are honored to help them do their good work in this community. So, thank you to all of you who have already given this year,” she said. “Every bit of money that comes in makes a huge difference and every one of you is responsible for helping continue the legacy of the SBYC Charity Regatta!”

At the time of the reception, the sponsors to this year’s Charity Regatta are:  Commodore Sponsor, The Bank of Santa Barbara; Vice Commodore Sponsors, Hutton Parker Foundation, Impulse Advanced Communications and Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care Board of Directors; Rear Commodore Sponsors, Ice Energy, Schlinger Chrisman Foundation, The Whimsie Fund, Young Construction and Karen Young; Staff Commodore Sponsors, Brown & Brown Insurance, Byram Healthcare, The Dreier Group, Hollister & Brace, Jack ‘N Tool Box, Jeffrey Berkus Architects, Mozilo Family Foundation, Schipper Construction Co., Seed Mackall LLP and Susan and Riley Bechtel; Hospitality Sponsors, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Sunstone Winery and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Sponsorship opportunities for this year’s event are available at $2,500, $5,000, $15,000 and $10,000 levels. Sponsorship includes admission to the Regatta, cocktail party, barbecue and recognition opportunities. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.vnhcsb.org/sponsor or contact Daniel Herrera at 805.690.6260 or daniel.herrera@vnhcsb.org.

The Charity Regatta is part of a national movement and has become a signature event in Santa Barbara. The “Yachts of Love” Charity Regatta will be held on Saturday, Sep. 12 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club.  

It will be a thrilling day of boat racing, entertainment and good will. The Regatta is open to the public.

Beginning Aug. 1, tickets can be purchased at www.vnhcsb.org/regatta. Tickets are $100 per person and $30 per child under 12 years of age. Guests are invited to check in at noon and sign up to ride on one of the spectator boats. Space on the spectator boats is limited and available on a first-come first-served basis.

For more event information, call 805.690.6260 or visit www.vnhcsb.org/regatta.

The Charity Regatta Committee includes Co-Chairs Robyn Parker and Sarah Berkus-Gower with Committee Members Kaleen Baker, Ed Brady, Erika Buse, Jack Byers, Roger Chrisman, Sarah Chrisman, Trish Davis, Marisa Demourkas, Joanne Gordon, Shari Guilfoyle, Daniel Herrera, Mary Lee Hopkins, Larry Leveille, Francie Lufkin, Sabrina Papa, Tony Papa, Tom Parker, Judy Rawles, David Sadecki, Jo Sadecki, Jen Smithwick, Sigrid Toye, Shannon Vernon, Craig Wilberg and Kathleen Yabsley.

About Santa Barbara Yacht Club

Founded in 1872, Santa Barbara Yacht Club is the second-oldest yacht club on the west coast of North America. It is a family-oriented club, rich with history and tradition. The Yacht Club is devoted to promoting and managing yachting activities, advancing the art of seamanship, preserving maritime tradition and providing for the social and recreational needs of our members while being mindful of our important role in the community. They are a non-profit private club and membership is by invitation only.  For more information on the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, visit www.sbyc.org or call 805.965.8112.

About Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care

Since 1908, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care has been Santa Barbara’s trusted home care expert. Serving the greater Santa Barbara area and Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys, VNHC provides high quality, comprehensive home health, hospice and related services necessary to promote the health and well-being of all community residents. For more information on Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, visit www.vnhcsb.org or call 805.965.5555.

—Hannah Rael is a publicist representing Santa Barbara Yacht Club.