Funds move low-income cancer patients, seniors, and chronically ill off waiting list
Organic Soup Kitchen hosted a Crab Boil on Saturday June 5, raising $30,000 to support low income cancer patients, seniors and chronically ill who have been placed on the organization’s waiting list. As demand for nutritional services skyrockets and funding declines, Organic Soup Kitchen has been forced to put people on a waiting list for their services. The Crab Boil is the first in a series of pop up fundraising events that will provide a critical stream of revenue to support home delivery of their immune strengthening SoupMeals to Santa Barbara’s most vulnerable residents. Event pictures can be found here.
“It was wonderful to see the community come together for a safe, outdoor celebration to support those who have been on our waiting list,” says Andrea Slaby, Chief Operating Officer at Organic Soup Kitchen. “The inundation of new clients has not slowed since the pandemic started, and our fundraising efforts will be critical in our ability to continue to nourish and provide food security to the thousands of residents facing medical and financial hardships.
A leader in the organic food industry, Organic Soup Kitchen has been recognized for their integrity in selecting only premium whole food ingredients including organic produce and medicinal quality herbs and spices. Working closely with leading oncologists, they work diligently to formulate SoupMeal recipes that strengthen the immune system, promote healing and increase vitality. SoupMeals are hermetically sealed in BPA-free containers providing clients with 100% safe, clinically-backed nutrition with no additives, preservatives or fillers. SoupMeals are available for purchase and every SoupMeal sold provides soup to a community member in need.
The fundraiser was made possible by the following organizations: Santa Barbara Fish Market, Andersen’s Bakery, Gethooked Seafood, SamSara Vineyards, Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Santa Barbara Winery, Arosha Inc, Wendy Foster Boutique, Mollusk Surf Shop, Presqu’ile winery, Carr Wines, Open Potions, Chef Ayda Robana, Heritage Goods and Supplies, Salty Strings Band, Taiana Designs, Minotti Los Angeles, John Rapp Artist, Covet Boutique, Imagine Boutique, Jason & Linda Baffa. Inc., Stardust Boats, Artist Josh Soskin, Yoga Soup, Tamara Honey Interior Designs, Artist Trevor Gordon, Atwill Pilates, The Merito Academy, The Giefer’s, Sol Wave Water, Merci, Bill Howard Photography, Bree’och Bakery, Alan Parsons Project, Klaus Moeller Inc. For information please visit www.organicsoupkitchen.org.
Organic Soup Kitchen’s “Buy One, Give One” Keeps the Lights On SoupMeal sales provide sustainability during funding decline
Organic Soup Kitchen SoupMeals are flying out the door to residents who want to support their friends and neighbors in need. “The soup that gives back” has become a staple in homes throughout Santa Barbara with all the sales supporting functional nutrition and food security for cancer patients, chronically ill and low-income seniors. As demand for nutritional services skyrockets and funding declines, SoupMeal sales have provided a stream of revenue that has allowed Organic Soup Kitchen to continue supporting the community.
“Our clients have nearly tripled in the past year and SoupMeal sales have helped us keep the doors open,” says Andrea Slaby, Chief Operating Officer at Organic Soup Kitchen. “Donations have slowed as a result of the pandemic, and we are extremely appreciative to residents who purchase soup and give back to our most vulnerable community members. We offer our full menu for purchase on our website and recipes change weekly.”
Since 2009, Organic Soup Kitchen has been the sole organization in Santa Barbara County to handcraft and deliver metabolic oncology SoupMeals to the homes of low-income cancer patients, seniors and chronically ill. The esteemed Cancer and Chronic Illness Recovery Program has become a trusted resource for all residents facing medical or financial hardships. Clients are referred to Organic Soup Kitchen from nearly 20 of the most prominent agencies in the County’s public health and human services sector including Cottage Hospital and all of the local cancer centers. Organic Soup Kitchen also provides SoupMeals to nearly a dozen agencies that distribute them to their low- income residents and clients who would otherwise not have access to nutrient dense food.
A leader in the organic food industry, Organic Soup Kitchen has been recognized for their integrity in selecting only premium whole food ingredients including organic produce and medicinal quality herbs and spices. Working closely with leading oncologists, they work diligently to formulate SoupMeal recipes that strengthen the immune system, promote healing and increase vitality. SoupMeals are hermetically sealed in BPA-free containers providing clients with 100% safe, clinically-backed nutrition with no additives, preservatives or fillers. SoupMeals are available for purchase and every SoupMeal sold provides soup to a community member in need. For information please visit www.organicsoupkitchen.org.
Radio’s Brian Phelps to Emcee Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s BIG Little Heroes Event
Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s (TBCF) annual Little Heroes event looks somewhat different this year. Their annual breakfast event is one of TBCF’s signature fundraisers affectionately named for the “little heroes” they support facing childhood cancer.
This year the event will be held virtually and take place in the evening. Due to the pandemic and subsequent healthcare crisis, TBCF felt compelled to honor the tri-counties’ local healthcare system, Cottage Health. Thus, the adjustment in the event name: BIG Little Heroes. The majority of the Santa Barbara families served by TBCF are diagnosed and treated by one or more of the Cottage Health programs, often beginning in the Emergency room, followed by hospital stays and treatment at the children’s clinic.
Leading the virtual program will be Brian Phelps known by most Los Angelenos from his 25 years hosting the Mark & Brian Morning Show on 95.5 KLOS. His radio show was syndicated in 21 markets in the U.S. and in 2020 he and his radio partner Mark Thompson were inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Jake Olson, USC football player and pediatric cancer survivor. Olson became the first completely blind football player in college football history when he successfully long snapped a PAT for the USC Trojans against Western Michigan on September 2nd, 2017. Jake’s story of overcoming retinoblastoma and going blind at the age of 12 has served as an inspiration to many people across the world.
Recently, a number of children TBCF serves have experienced similar outcomes with retinoblastoma, and for that reason Olson was chosen to present for this event. “I can’t wait for our kids to hear his presentation,” shared Gisselle Madrigal, TBCF’s Family Resource Manager, “His message of resiliency is so powerful. I hope they are as inspired by his message as I am.”
The 2021 event co-chairs are Heather Ayer, Matt Fish, and April Norman. Ayer and Fish were co-chairs of the breakfast in 2019 and 2020, and Norman is an ongoing volunteer at TBCF. Ayer, who is a childhood cancer survivor and whose family were recipients of TBCF services, stated, “As a childhood cancer survivor I know first-hand how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be, and how important it is to keep a family together through this unimaginable experience. This event means so much to me because it is truly focused on bringing our community together to honor and applaud the little (and big) heroes among us.”
Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is the only local nonprofit solely focused on providing financial, educational, and emotional support to families living in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties who have a child with cancer.
This event was made possible by the generous sponsorships from Karl Storz Imaging and Oniracom.
Attendance is free, and registration is required. You may register on Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s website at www.TeddyBearCancerFoundation.org and clicking ‘Events,’ or by calling (805) 308-9943. Sponsorships are available and offer robust sponsor benefits including gift cards to Olio e Limone Ristorante, a local business that has supported TBCF from the beginning, and during the pandemic when their business was closed.
Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation provides services to families that have a child diagnosed with cancer up to age 18 and continue until they reach 21 years of age. In 2020 TBCF served a total of 891 individuals through their multiple programs and provided direct financial assistance to 55 families. Last year, through a combination of Special Circumstances Funds, grocery gift cards, and meals, TBCF was able to offer a total of $37,725 in additional support to families navigating the pandemic during their child’s cancer treatment.
If you would like more information regarding the event, or to schedule an interview with a member of our staff, please contact Kirsten Stuart, TBCF’s Development & Communications Director, at (805) 308-9943 or Kirsten@teddybearcancerfoundation.org
Breast Cancer Resource Center: THRIVE is Alive
Webster’s Dictionary defines thrive as a verb meaning “to grow vigorously, flourish” or “to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances.”
No wonder the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara – the nonprofit that provides free educational resources and unique support services for women currently facing a breast cancer diagnosis and/or undergoing treatment – a few years ago chose Thrive as the new name for its Fashion Show fundraiser.
The annual event serves as a celebration of the courageous BCRC clients through “modeling” appearances by a select few of the women who proudly showcase their confidence and strength by donning designer threads to walk the runway and sharing their cancer journeys via video segments.
“We wanted to recognize and celebrate the journey that these women are taking,” explained BCRC Executive Director Silvana Kelly. “Whether they’re in treatment now, or are post-treatment and surviving, or just living with the disease, the thought is, let’s celebrate our life, celebrate who we are, what we’ve been through and where we’re going.”
Where one of the cancer survivors/thrivers went is somewhere she never would have imagined prior to her diagnosis, said Armando Martinez, BCRC’s Director of Donor Engagement. “She was a physician but through the process of being diagnosed and her cancer journey she let her practice go and is now dedicated to helping other women that are also managing breast cancer. Her thrive story is that although her life took a turn when cancer hit, it also deepened her purpose when she was able to reapply her medical background toward helping other women in a more focused way. That’s why we realized it was a great idea to have the women tell their own stories.”
Being seen walking the runway at the THRIVE Fashion Show also allows the women to see each other in a different light, Kelly said.
“It’s a way to share that they’re back to being a mom, being a spouse, a caregiver, or whatever multiple roles that they’ve played. It’s a way to say, ‘I’m back.’”
Surprisingly, after taking 2020 off due to the strict guidelines on gatherings during the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the THRIVE Fashion Show is also back, albeit virtually. This year’s event will be filmed at the Belmond El Encanto’s Lily Pond in the Santa Barbara foothills and broadcasted on Sunday, May 2, via Zoom to paid viewers and sponsors with an intention to also have it aired on KEYT-TV over Mother’s Day weekend.
The women will be invited one at a time to have their hair done and makeup applied, and then shoot their video in their own words, Martinez said. The videoclips will then be compiled with footage of the fashion show itself that will take place at the Lily Pond.
“It creates a sense of joy and accomplishment to say and show, ‘This is what I’ve been through and this is my journey,’” he said. “Even if it’s in a really small format, it’s still important for the families of these women to see them complete a cycle of sorts, even if they’re in continued treatment. It’s a point in time where they can celebrate and be seen as vibrant.”
That vitality, of course, is the main purpose of the Breast Cancer Resource Center, whose unique support services include everything from a lending library to peer groups to hands-on practical programs such as reflexology and reiki treatments, all in service of empowering a sisterhood and create healing by fostering hope to counteract the terror of facing a cancer diagnosis.
“Our services are unique in that we approach the healing process and the journey by looking at mind, body, and spirit,” said Kelly, who, like most of the staff at BCRC, is also a breast cancer survivor. “When we started 23 years ago, that wasn’t a generally accepted concept. We were really blazing a trail to provide patient services.”
Nowadays, thankfully, such forward-thinking medical providers as the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center offer a number of patient support services, but only BCRC exclusively deals with women diagnosed with breast cancer, an important factor that makes the nonprofit services still vitally important, she said.
“Women tend to want to be with other women, and going to a support group, you want to be with people who are going through the same thing you are.”
With the pandemic still preventing most in-person gatherings, particularly for people who are immunosuppressed such as cancer patients, most of BCRC’s services have moved online, Kelly said.
“We’ve now migrated almost everything to a virtual platform, including support groups that meet twice a month and one-on-one sessions between clients and support personnel over the phone or Zoom. There’s even remote Reiki healing and an online sound healing session with crystal bowls and chimes.”
Even so, Kelly said, people are still coming to the center, although the traffic has diminished.
“So we’re still open in the office,” she said. “I’m glad that we are because that personal human touch really matters when you are in such sensitive circumstances. It’s important for the women to sit across from us and go, OK, these ladies are healthy, they’re thriving. It inspires them and encourages them to get through.”
Which circles back to the THRIVE Fashion Show, which was previously one of the biggest sources of revenue for BCRC, which receives no government funds, instead relying on donations from individuals, businesses, and private foundations.
“It’s been quite the challenge for us to get the message out that we are still open and are still available to provide support to the women who need us,” Kelly said, adding that even though most oncologists already refer their breast cancer patients to the center, others need a little push. “Sometimes we feel like medical sales rep, making the rounds to sit in front of the doctors to keep them aware of what it is we’re doing.”
What’s even tougher, though, given the continuing coronavirus crisis, is making sure the funds will be there to keep their services bustling.
“It’s really tough for the fundraiser because people really like to get to go to events when they make donations, which is understandable.” Kelly said. “They want to have some fun. The question for us is how we keep those people involved. How do we keep them connected to what it is we’re doing?”
Hopefully, the fashion show, by attracting sponsorships and ticket sale donations, will fulfill BCRC’s fundraising needs. After all, it’s a celebration of life. And who doesn’t want to thrive?
Breast Cancer Resource Center is located at 55 Hitchcock Way, Suite 101, in Santa Barbara. For more information about the services offered, visit bcrcsb.org or call (805) 569-9693.
At Organic Soup Kitchen, the Proof is in the Soup
Historians say that soup has been a staple of the human diet as long as man has cooked his food. Archaeologists believe that humans have been making soup for at least 20,000 years, beginning with the advent of waterproof containers such as clay pots, where folks could pile in ingredients and boil them over a fire. For sure, soup has captured our attention in popular culture through a series of unforgettable advertising slogans and other references.
Campbell’s “M’m! M’m! Good!” phrase pervaded for many decades dating back to the 1930s, while the company’s “Soup is Good Food” tagline also curried a lot of favor. In the 1970s, Lipton found its catchphrase “Is it soup yet?” entering the lexicon.
And who could forget the famous 1995 “Soup Nazi” episode of Seinfeld where the purveyor of a new soup stand makes concoctions so outstandingly delicious that customers line up out the door and kowtow to the owner’s insistence on a strict code of conduct while ordering lest they get banned from the place. Jerry even disavowed his smooching girlfriend to avoid the dreaded “No soup for you!” rebuff.
I’m sure the m-m-m-m-mulligatawny was marvelous. But the thing is, at Santa Barbara’s Organic Soup Kitchen (OSK), not only is the soup really good, it’s also really good for you.
Each one of OSK’s SoupMeal™ recipes – it’s such a unique concept that they’ve trademarked the name – is designed to strengthen the immune system, increase energy, and promote healing. OSK’s soup designers collaborate with leading cancer specialists to formulate metabolic oncology recipes aimed at lowering inflammation, balancing blood sugar, and improving circulation. The hand-crafted, small-batch soups are sourced from largely local organic produce, healthy fats and oils, and non-irradiated spices, resulting in a medicinal quality, complete balanced meal that contains at least 10 different vegetables, whole grains and a full spectrum of plant-based nutrients.
Once it’s cooked and ready to eat, each SoupMeal is then packaged in a 24-ounce BPA-free container that is hermetically sealed to eliminate contamination by airborne pathogens, bacteria, and viruses. OSK employees and volunteers then deliver the soups to clients once a week.
“We have a really good product,” OSK founder and Executive Director Anthony Carroccio said simply. “In fact, I would put it up against any soup out there in the market. That’s why I trademarked SoupMeal because our soups have everything that a complete meal would have, everything you need for nutrition.”
Which is why its Cancer Recovery Program has proved so popular in town. Ever since its founding, OSK has served the community through weekly delivery of its SoupMeals, servicing the area’s more than 15,000 recorded cancer patients upwards of 1,000,000 bowls of soup collectively.
“We don’t cure cancer. We’re not the doctors, so that’s not what we do,” Carroccio said. “But I will go to the mat and say, yes, we do help people build a strong immune system, and a good immune system helps you heal. You need a real good, nutritious, and balanced diet to have a good immune system, and that’s what we provide.”
A little more than a decade in, the Cancer Recovery and Chronic Illness Initiatives are still going strong. But 2020 provided a new series of challenges when the pandemic hit and demand for OSK’s products and service skyrocketed. In response, OSK expanded its delivery of its signature plant-based immune-building soups throughout Santa Barbara County to cover door-to-door services from Carpinteria to the Santa Ynez Valley to an even wider client base.
“We literally doubled in service when COVID started because we were aware that low-income seniors don’t want to leave the house to go shopping,” Carroccio said. “We doubled our clientele and production right down the line.”
Which was no easy task, as OSK’s menu of handcrafted small batch soups now runs to a baker’s dozen options, including such delectable varieties as Butternut Squash, Coconut Curry Lentil, Cowgirl Chili, Roasted Tomato and Wild Rice, Italian Fagioli, and Tuscan White Bean & Kale. Six of the soups now also come with a bone broth base for additional nutrition for those who aren’t vegan, plus traditional turkey soup boasting meat from an organic bird. Carroccio said he’s in contact with alternative and traditional doctors as well as such health gurus as John Robbins (of “Diet for a New America” fame) and Andrew Weil to stay on top of the latest information in nutrition and immune-building foods.
That’s a lot of work, even though the soup-making is largely a labor of love.
Carroccio himself shows up at two in the morning each Tuesday to start making that week’s soups, filling the two 60-gallon kettles that are the centerpiece of OSK’s newish 2,000-square-foot industrial kitchen before another crew comes in that afternoon to ladle out the servings into the special containers and chill them. On Wednesday morning, the team of 20 drivers arrives to pick up the soups and head out on their delivery routes.
And even though there are more people to serve than ever before, OSK hasn’t cut back on service to their existing client base.
“We give them as much as they want because when someone has cancer, they don’t feel like cooking, and it’s dangerous for them to go shopping anyway,” Carroccio said. “So we give them what they want, which often ends up being four or five, sometimes six containers a week.”
So obviously costs have also increased sharply as demand shot up during the ongoing pandemic.
Good thing the soups are also available for anyone to buy. That’s right: you don’t have to be sick or elderly to enjoy Carroccio’s tasty and nutritious creations.
Soup for Good
“We’re selling an awful lot of soup these days and that’s really keeping us alive to keep doing what we do,” he said. “But that’s great, because funding is still tight as hell.”
The soup sales – each variety sells for $15 for a 24 ounce container – directly fund the programs for the cancer and chronically ill patients or those who can’t afford them as the pandemic has curtailed a lot of people’s income. “Every soup you purchase allows us to donate a soup to a low-income person,” Carroccio explained.
OSK’s donation program is also a big boost, he said. Members of the so-called SouperHeroes make automatic gifts of as little as $10 a month, although most contribute $50 or more.
“Folks are doing it because they know that our soup that’s going out there is a good product for the folks who need it,” Carroccio said.
But OSK’s financial needs are still growing.
“We just put in a $50,000 freezer, and, you know, we outgrew it immediately,” Carroccio said. “So now I’m on the market looking for another walk-in freezer to install and I’m trying to raise money to buy it. It’s an immediate need. We are begging, I hate to use that word, but in truth, that’s what it’s like these days.”
In 1997, a group of breast cancer survivors and others came together to talk about having a place where women and men could come to receive practical advice and emotional support addressing the realities of a breast cancer diagnosis. Today, with 23 years of service to the Santa Barbara community, the Breast Cancer Resource Center continues to stand at the ready with an unwavering message of hope and perseverance.
When Georganne Lubin, a mother of four, was diagnosed with breast cancer, the road ahead – chemo, surgery, the unknown – was daunting, but the center’s home-like atmosphere, Reiki, Reflexology, and staff, many cancer survivors themselves, proved a salve. “What I found at the BCRC was a place of encouragement and hopeduring a time when my world was turned on its head by a cancer diagnosis with multiple treatments and surgeries,” Lubin says.
Silvana Kelly, Executive Director of the BCRC, is a survivor. Nearly two decades ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She watched her hair fall out, fought through months of treatment, recovery, and marveled at how after treatment, health improved daily and her physical strength returned.
So when a young woman with a recent diagnosis walks into the center, Kelly can, from a place of knowing, tell her that yes, you can get through this, your hair will grow back; and you will have the strength to play with your children again, and learn how to ask for help. Like Kelly, the center’s director of programs, outreach coordinator, and mammogram coordinator are all survivors.
“We are not the doctors to provide a cure, but we are the support system and family that will encourageand uplift clients, so they have the stamina to move forward while maintaining a semblance of mindful wellness,” Kelly says.
While the organization’s programs primarily focus on women because 99% of breast cancer cases affect them, Director of Donor Engagement Armando Martinez recently launched Men in Pink, a distinguished group of compassionate and philanthropic leaders dedicated to raising awareness and money to help the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbarawith their mission to support individuals facing breast cancer.
“Breast Cancer affects everyone,” Martinez says. “It also affects the lives of those standing strong, supporting a loved one through their journey”
Whether men supporting women as sons, friends, or partners, or women survivors helping those in the throes of breast cancer, the Breast Cancer Resource Center is at the heart of providing better lives for everyone touched by this terrible disease.
“We know how to support and love and be there for you,” Martinez says. “That’s what we do, and that’s all we do.”
Life Saving Soup
Anthony Carroccio, Executive Director and founder of Organic Soup Kitchen, has a profound vision for his 120-gallon steam kettles.
“We see ways to use the medicinal value of whole organic food to make a difference in Cancer recovery.”
Since 2009, Anthony and his team have been working alongside leading Cancer specialists to formulate metabolically charged soup recipes high in phytonutrients.
“The correlation between organic food and disease is a powerful one,” Carroccio says. “If you had Cancer, or your mom had Cancer, and you only had two to three tablespoons of anything to give her a day, our soup is what you would give her.”
Carroccio and his team stick to a rigorous schedule to ensure that more than 600 Cancer patients and immune-compromised residents in Santa Barbara County are delivered the nutrient packed soups every week. Ninety-five percent of their clients are over 65 and facing financial hardship.
All SoupMeals are handcrafted weekly at the Organic Soup Kitchen’s downtown Santa Barbara, environmentally conscious, industrial sized kitchen. It all starts with a Sous-Chef and a team of trained kitchen workers slicing and dicing 500-600 pounds of organic produce – 90 percent sourced locally. After the soups are slowly cooked and hermetically sealed for safety in 24-ounce containers, they are hand delivered by a team of delivery drivers.
The recent addition of bone broth to the plant-based menu gives clients additional quality options and provides the extraordinary healing properties of the vitamins and minerals extracted from organic, free range chicken bones.
“We’re meeting a critical need locally, but the reality is that the crisis of food scarcity and a poor diet exists across our country,” Carroccio says. “We’d love nothing more than to expand our reach and help even more people in need of clinical nutrition.”
For a 10-year-old boy named Atlas battling T-Cell Leukemia, the Organic Soup Kitchen has been a saving grace: “Staying nourished has been a priority and a struggle throughout. Your beautiful soups are helping me to continue this quest for wellness. Thank you so very much!”
Never Giving Up in the Fight Against Pediatric Cancer
At age 12, Axel Penaloza was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“I was so scared,” Penaloza says. “I was thinking, why is this happening to me? I just want to go to school and be free from cancer.”
He was not alone in his fears. His older brother suffered as he saw his little brother go through treatment, and his parents – both first generation Americans from Mexico– struggled to manage the unknown that is a cancer diagnosis.
Thankfully, there was a nonprofit to help them: Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (TBCF). TBCF provides three core programs aimed at supporting children and their families through pediatric cancer: financial, emotional, and educational support.
Low and moderate-income families residing in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo can receive up to $5,000 for expenses at the time of an initial cancer diagnosis. “A cancer diagnosis is an incredible economic hit,” says TBCF board member Sheela Hunt. Additionally, up to $2,500 is available to families whose child relapses after their cancer treatment. In the most tragic moments imaginable, TBCF will cover funeral costs of up to $2,500.
Through its emotional support program, Teddy Bear provides family counseling groups, events aimed at family connection, and “care for the caregivers” like a Mother’s Spa Day. Anything to bring some normalcy in such a horrific time for a family.
Finally, the organization helps children regain their feet in school. Not only do children miss days for treatment, but treatment can also cause cognitive delays. TBCF provides up to $1,000 for tutoring and covers the cost of neuropsychological testing, so that children who experience cognitive issues can get the help they need in school.
For the Penaloza family, this enveloping support helped get their boy through. Now, 14, Axel wants to be an inspiration for all the children fighting cancer today.
“I know it takes a long time, but I struggled and struggled with all my heart, and I tried everything and did not give up,” he says. “Now I am free from cancer.
“Say to yourself, ‘I will never give up.’ Say it so loud that everyone can hear you. You can do this. Never, never, never give up.”