Tag Archives: donations

We ALL Deserve to Experience the Bounty of the Season!

Now that Summer is in the air, the buzz to “get out there” and engage with our greater Community is palpable! But dusting off the lingering memories of the past year is not as simple as it looks… our hope is that with your ongoing and generous support of Unity’s mission — THANK YOU! — and our hard work in providing the essentials, we can ease the burden on those still finding their way back after the long pandemic “winter” we just lived through.

All of us at Unity Shoppe, including our essential workers, are grateful to be vaccinated and working on behalf of our Community’s residents. Those in need of help still turn to us for support services every day. They include: vulnerable seniors and other homebound adults who continue to need our grocery delivery service year-round; formerly employed Santa Barbarans still waiting for retailers, hotels, and restaurants to re-open in full; and parents waiting for schools and childcare to resume in person next fall.

Here’s just one example among thousands of what our services have meant in the lives of our clients. Before the pandemic, Erin and her family couldn’t fathom ever needing our support:

“Like so many of us, our family was hit very hard by Covid. Suddenly, we lost our jobs, our 4 kids needed to learn from home, and food in our fridge and pantry was scarce. Thanks to the caring people at Unity, we received fresh food for months – enough to keep our family fed and healthy – as well as access to a lifeline of support that helped us cope with the fear and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.”

It’s Never Been More Clear: As One CommUNITY We Succeed!

Funds are needed immediately to purchase food, fresh produce, and items with a longer shelf life that we depleted during the past year of the pandemic, so please act now. And, thank you to Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, who have agreed to match what we raise during the month of June up to $10,000!

Summer Food Challenge donations can be made to Unity Shoppe online at:

Dine & Donate: Los Agaves to Donate Proceeds of April 21 Event to Friendship Center

In an event sponsored by the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors (SBAOR), Los Agaves Restaurant is cooking up an authentic Mexican meal for charity.

Meal pick-up is Wednesday, April 21 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. All proceeds support Friendship Center, an Adult Day Program located in Montecito and Goleta, providing programs that honor individuality, promote socialization, and foster a compassionate community for aging adults.

Follow this link to register: https://www.sbindytickets.com/events/111248192/dine-donate 

Please note, entree selections are chosen at the end of the checkout process, with your choice of enchiladas, taco bar or chicken fajitas, with options available. Generous portions with all the fixings are large enough for two or more people and include two margaritas. 

Contact Sophia Davis: sophia@friendshipcenter.org for more information about this event. Visit Friendship Center’s website at: https://www.friendshipcentersb.org.

Latest on School Reopening

In addition to the majority of the business sector permitted to reopen indoors with modifications earlier this week, most county public schools – bolstered by happy and tired parents and caregivers – reopened in early March. Montecito public schools, Montecito Union School and Cold Spring School, have been open for in-person learning since late September, after applying for and receiving a waiver from the County’s Health Officer. Both schools have since conducted the majority of in-person learning outside, modifying both campuses to accommodate outdoor, socially distanced curriculum. Both school superintendents report that there has been no COVID-19 transmission at either school, and all staff and teachers have tested negative. The majority of teachers at the two schools have had the first round of the COVID-19 vaccination. 

One805 helped local schools prepare for the reopening: Harding Elementary School principal Veronica Binkley and One805 CFO John Thyne during a mask distribution in February

Crane Country Day School has also been open since October, and Kristen Peralta, Assistant Director of Admission tells us vaccines arrived last week for Crane employees. “There was an immense sense of peace that they were one step closer to safety and would soon be relieved of the burden that had been upon them since beginning On-Campus learning last October.”

By the end of the week over 90% of Crane’s employees had received at least their first dose of the vaccine. “For a school that has been providing full-day, on-campus learning five days a week since October, as well as an online learning option, this is a significant step in the right direction,” Peralta said, crediting Crane’s Health Administrator, Nurse Savannah Aijian,for helping coordinate the effort. “Sharing vaccine information and availability became a group effort as chains of emails were sent among Crane employees, including 5 am messages to let others know that appointments were available,” Peralta said. “Teachers rallied to cover their colleagues’ duty stations so that they could get to their vaccine appointments. The glimpse of hope and sense of gratitude sparked camaraderie, and the vaccinations marked a milestone in the academic year and in the school’s history.”

In the five months that the majority of the Crane community has been on campus, students, parents, teachers, and staff have become accustomed to the safety measures implemented this year, including handwashing stations, a daily health questionnaire, a full-time school nurse, plexiglass at every desk, coyote badges around campus marking a six-foot distance, and 23 unique outdoor learning spaces. Experiential learning areas in the various quads and plazas around campus have allowed teachers and students to spread out, enjoy fresh air, and look at their education outside of the four walls of the classroom. “Teachers have been grateful to be offering their students an exceptional education whether they are on campus or at home. The school is grateful that its decisions and the precautions of Crane families have together successfully allowed for a 0% transmission rate of COVID-19 on campus. Finally, the entire community can now be grateful that the widespread vaccination adds another thick layer of protection to our schools,” Peralta said. 

Crane will continue to offer a slightly modified two-prong approach with the vast majority of families choosing on-campus learning, while a smaller set of families in third through eighth grades continue to rely upon Crane’s online learning option. “I am hopeful that if we continue to wear masks, and we continue to socially distance, we will be able to slowly return to a more normal school environment,” said Head of School Joel Weiss.

The nonprofit also donated disaster kits in Lompoc: pictured here are Mason Schmidt, Lompoc Police Chief Joseph Mariani, Angela Schmidt, and Captain Kevin Martin

Last month, in order to help prepare local school campuses in Santa Barbara for the reopening, One805, a local nonprofit, donated 1,000 masks and 50 disaster kits to Harding Elementary School. “The new double masking recommendations from the CDC combined with the community beginning to open up has increased a need for masks,” said Angela Schmidt, One805 Executive Director. “Never has it been more important to work together as one county to abide by all safety recommendations.” 

One805 was formed to create a way for all members of our community to support First Responders and contribute to the public safety needs of Santa Barbara County; the organization was formed following the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow in January 2018. “We are the only organization that supports multiple First Responder agencies. The One805 Advisory Council, which helps direct donations to where they are most needed, is comprised of the department heads of 11 separate First Responder agencies from Carpinteria to Santa Maria and throughout the county,” explains John Thyne, a founding board member. The group also recently delivered 300 disaster kits to the Lompoc Police Department; each hand-packed kit contained two masks, soap, sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, and a note of encouragement.

“It’s remarkable to witness the impact One805 has had on the overall safety of our community” says Schmidt. “We established an emergency Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/One805sb to consolidate messages from multiple agencies during emergencies and we work on public safety initiatives county-wide.” 

One805’s slogan is Prepare, Equip, Support, and they do all three. To learn more visit www.one805.org.

Taking Care of Those Who Take Care of Us

By the time the Thomas Fire turned toward Montecito in December 2017, Santa Barbara County’s first responders had already spent weeks preparing for the worst. 

Eric Phillips, whose home sits at 1,060 feet above the sea, knew his family was particularly exposed. When the fire struck, he didn’t need news reports because he watched from his security cameras. Firefighters scurried about as smoke poured over them. 

“It looked like midnight, but it was three in the afternoon,” he says. Then the cameras went out. “I figured ‘that’s it, the house is gone.’”

But it wasn’t. Like for so many others throughout the region, incredible effort by firefighters, police, and sheriff’s deputies paid off – saving homes and lives. “I was pretty blown away,” Phillips says. “I thought, ‘we have got to do something for these heroes.’” He and others considered a thank you barbeque.

Then, on January 9, 2018, a historic rain storm hit the scorched mountainsides causing the devastating debris flow that killed 23 of our neighbors. The weary first responders jumped into action again. 

With friends like Kirsten Cavendish & Richard Weston-Smith, John Thyne III, Ursula & Pat Nesbitt, Pat Smith and Sheila Herman, Phillips’ idea of a “little barbecue” to thank the first responders snowballed. In February 2018, these friends along with an army of volunteers, and a growing list of stars including Katy Perry, Alan Parsons, David Crosby, the group Wilson Phillips, David Foster and Kenny Loggins hosted “The Kick Ash Bash” on the grounds of Nesbitts’ Bella Vista Ranch. 

Battle-fatigued first responders, their families, and the community’s many thankful residents enjoyed a benefit concert with local celebrities, raising $2 million for charity. Supported by the likes of Yardi Systems, Inc., One805 immediately poured $1.4 million into three custom mobile command centers for the county’s fire, police, and sheriff’s departments to protect the community from future disasters. The safety of Santa Barbara county is central to the mission of One805.

“We quickly learned that [first responder] budgets move at a glacial pace,” Weston-Smith quips. “Real life doesn’t work like that. In a disaster, things are destroyed and they need up-to-date equipment and safety gear right away.”

Following the success of “The Kick Ash Bash”, Weston-Smith, Phillips, and Thyne launched One805, a nonprofit serving public safety agencies equitably across Santa Barbara county. The organization’s only staff member is Executive Director Angela Binetti Schmidt, the wife of a first responder herself. 

This low overhead and active board allows One805 to convert donations into fast action, quickly buying 45 decontamination foggers to protect the community from COVID-19, personal protective gear and other emergency equipment. The group collaborates with an advisory council made up of Department Heads from over a dozen Santa Barbara first responder agencies who decide where donations are needed most. 

One805 is also intent on supporting the mental health needs of our essential workforce, whose ranks regularly are witness to terrible tragedy.

Today, One805 is a permanent 501(c)(3) public charity, raising funds for Santa Barbara county public safety initiatives and assisting all three Fire, Police, and Sheriff Departments– purchasing equipment, counseling, and taking care of those who take care of us.

A Century of Dignity and Respect

For more than 100 years, Unity Shoppe, a multifaceted nonprofit serving Santa Barbara’s residents, has maintained an unwavering focus on dignity and respect in their service to others.

Today, the organization has grown to use every inch of its 31,000 square feet of building space to steadily serve 20,000 individuals referred by over 300 partner agencies across Santa Barbara County every year. In some 80,000 annual visits, clients come to Unity Shoppe’s Essential Services Center where they select from a wide array of nutritious groceries presented as if at a high-end food market; or families can shop for new clothes and school supplies entirely free-of-charge.

This question of choice is as old as Unity Shoppe itself. During the 1930s the organization heralded volunteers who amassed gifts to give to the working poor during the holiday season. Unity Shoppe, then called The Council of Christmas Cheer, had a clear policy regarding the paramount importance of client choice.

For Barbara Tellefson, who has run Unity Shoppe for nearly 50 years, this concept is what first attracted her as a volunteer, and what keeps her passionate about the organization well into her 80s.

“Dignity is essential to the human spirit,” Tellefson says. “It signals that you are valued for who you are, and how you live your life. We’ve never assumed we know better than the people we serve.They have their own ideas about what is important to them and their families. When we give them the opportunity to choose and then show respect for their decisions, we are saying ‘You are worthy; You CAN do it.’”

And Unity Shoppe is there every step on the journeys of its tens of thousands of clients. For those low-income men, women and youth who are actively seeking employment, the organization’s Job Smart program provides resumé assistance, job interview coaching, and appropriate work attire so they can put their best foot forward and land the job. When they are hired, they can choose more outfits to help them feel confident in their new workplace.

Every year, Unity Shoppe’s 1,700 volunteers ensure that all programs are imbued with respect and TLC towards clients. Many among the bevy of volunteers are seniors who do everything from hand-making and wrapping holiday gifts to assembling customized care packages for other seniors. Able-bodied and disabled youth volunteers are trained in practical job skills and gain valuable work experience, while others accrue necessary community service hours to complete high school.

For Tellefson this is the beauty of Unity Shoppe, “People from all walks of life, races, and religions join together to be of service to people that need help. We hear again and again from both clients and volunteers how Unity has changed their lives.”