Tag Archives: fundraiser

Organic Soup Kitchen Crab Boil Fundraiser Raises $30,000

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.

June Means it’s Poker Run Time

United Boys & Girls Clubs is excited to announce our summer event for our car enthusiasts, a Poker Run! Don’t worry, though. Our Rally 4 Kids will be back in April of 2022.

Rev your engine for this year’s goal to raise $120,000 during the Poker Run that will support the membership fee for an entire year for 100 youth at all seven locations. With your help, we can ensure no child is ever turned away and provide mentoring, sports clinics, and academic support to more youth throughout Santa Barbara County.  While our services cost an average of $1,200 a year, our membership fees are only $40 per child annually. Your support is crucial to ensuring our fees remain affordable for families in need. With your support, we can continue to provide these opportunities.

Poker Run will be on Saturday, June 26, 2021. You can pay through credit card by using the link or by check. Go to https://ubgc.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/2021PokerRun/Registration to register and learn more.

Mental Health Awareness Doesn’t End in May for the Mental Wellness Center

Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. If you found that the pandemic impacted your mental health, you are not alone.

In November 2020, the CDC reported that 44% of us were experiencing either depression or anxiety. And of the almost half a million individuals that took a mental health screening at mhascreening.org, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety.

This past year has challenged us all, testing our strength and resiliency. Hope is on the horizon.

During the month of May, the Mental Wellness Center and the rest of the country came together and focused on raising awareness of the importance of mental health.

THANK YOU for celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month with us. And remember – mental health awareness doesn’t stop in May, and should be recognized and prioritized every day because right now, mental health has never been more important.

As the Mental Wellness looks to the future, we have hope. Join the Mental Wellness Center this summer, along with our wonderful community partners, as we raise awareness of mental health in our community.

Save the Date for the 2nd Annual Peace of Mind Fundraiser with Alma Rosa Winery on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at Alma Rosa’s 628-acre estate, located north of Santa Barbara near Buellton. This fundraiser helped the Mental Wellness Center raise more than $70,000 last year and we are so thankful to Alma Rosa Winery for their continued support of our organization. Registration opens soon, visit mentalwellnesscenter.org/peaceofmind to learn more! 

And, in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, 10% of all proceeds from Alma Rosa’s May sales will directly benefit the Mental Wellness Center. Shop online today and support our organization! 

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is a comprehensive, online training that teaches educators, family members, and caregivers (18+ years old) how to approach, assess, and assist a young person with a mental health challenge or substance use concern.

YMHFA is offered monthly throughout Santa Barbara County and is available in both English and Spanish. The classes are provided by Family Service Agency, Mental Wellness Center, and the Youthwell Coalition. Free online trainings will be offered from 9AM-2PM on the following dates: June 3, June 15, July 8, July 20, August 10, and August 19. To learn more and register, please visit: bethedifferencesb.org.

Healthy People Healthy Trails Supports Mental Wellness in our Community

We all know that going out for a walk is good for our physical health, but it doesn’t stop there. Research shows that getting outside in nature has many mental health benefits as well. Walking has been proven effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and there is further evidence that walking in nature improves those results even further. That’s because different parts of our brain activate in nature. Our mind calms, leading to physical changes including a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure. But don’t think you have to hike a mountain to feel the results. Spending time outside at a park or any green space can have the same effect. Even if it’s only for a few minutes during a lunch break, getting out in nature can positively impact your mental health. 

Healthy People Healthy Trails (HPHT) is an innovative program designed to strengthen the connection between the use of local public parks and trails and individual healthcare. The program is supported by a dynamic group of community partners including local doctors and health care providers, trail advocates and stewards, land managers, and the National Park Service. The Mental Wellness Center is proud to support Healthy People, Healthy Trails! Healthy People Healthy Trails offers a set of maps with easy local walking routes. Browse the website and choose a trail that is right for you. We hope you find the maps useful and the trails enjoyable!

Being in nature is good for the body and mind. Join the Spring Healthy People Healthy Trails Challenge and sign-up and pledge to be active outdoors. Each time you submit your outdoor activity you are entered into a drawing for the chance to win monthly prizes. Visit www.healthypeoplehealthytrails.org and join the Spring Challenge today! 

And please remember, you are not alone; the Mental Wellness Center is always here for you. If you or someone you know is in need of mental health resources and support, please connect with us today at: www.mentalwellnesscenter.org or by giving us a call at 805-884-8440.

Wish Upon a Montecito Star: MUS Fundraiser Gets Help from a Legend

Saturday, May 22 will be a very exciting evening for Montecito Union kids, parents, and the greater community, as Montecito Union School hosts a virtual gala featuring professionally produced musical performances from MUS students. Dubbed “Montecito Star,” the event is in lieu of the Montecito Union School Foundation’s annual gala, which raises money for various causes on campus. This year’s proceeds are earmarked for the school’s Nature Lab, located on the 2.3-acre parcel of land located adjacent to the campus on San Ysidro Road. 

Foundation president Tara Fergusson tells us that earlier this year, the Foundation board was brainstorming ideas for a virtual, COVID-friendly event in lieu of an in-person gala. (Luckily, last year’s event was held just days before the pandemic shut down the majority of the country, at Montecito Club, and brought in much-needed funding that was utilized later in the year when kids returned to campus following months of virtual instruction.)

“We thought a virtual concert would be a good option and sent out an email to all the parents asking if anyone had connections to the music industry,” she said. “Within minutes, Simon Fuller reached out to us, offering to help produce a musical showcase of sorts,” Fergusson said. 

Fuller, an MUS parent, is the creator of the “Idol” franchise of television shows, which includes the wildly popular American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. He is also a well-known, international artist manager and television producer, and was recently recognized by Billboard magazine as the most successful British music manager of all time. Fuller and his family moved to Montecito last year, and he says he is pleased to help MUS as much as he can.

“It’s a wonderful school, and whatever we can do to help, we will,” he said, adding that his oldest daughter, an MUS student, is participating in the singing showcase; his younger twin girls will be in kindergarten next year. 

Earlier this month, a call for submissions was put out to the MUS student body, and it was expected that two dozen or so kids might participate. “We asked them to send in videos of themselves singing, and were thrilled that we received over 90 submissions,” said superintendent Dr. Anthony Ranii. Ten singers were chosen for solo performances, as well as six featured instrumentalists; an additional 80 kids are participating in the chorus.

This week, Fuller’s professional production team is on campus to record footage, coach the soloists with their chosen song, record the songs in a mobile recording studio, and film music videos for each of the performers, who will also be styled by Fuller’s team.

“Each of the performances will be shot in a different area of the campus, in a celebration of the amazing, gracious school we have here,” said Fuller, who says he’s a massive advocate for the arts in school. “That’s really where my heart is coming from in doing this.”

The Nature Lab has been utilized as the site of outdoor learning during the pandemic; the MUS Foundation has big plans to make the property a major focal point of the school and its STEAM curriculum

Fergusson is co-chairing the event with the Foundation’s fundraising and events chair Cathy Bunnin, and with the technological help of Ben Hyatt. The event will be pre-recorded but streamed online on May 22; tickets are $50 per person, with the option of purchasing a delivered meal for four from DUO Catering for $150 additional. The event will feature opportunities for naming rights at several locations at the Nature Lab, including the MUS prep kitchen, the A-frame low lying tree house, the tool shed, art shed, and others. Participants can also donate for the opportunity to win a campout or picnic at the Nature Lab.

“It’s all for a really fantastic cause. The Nature Lab is going to be transformative for our school,” Dr. Ranii said. 

When fully realized, the Nature Lab will invite learners to imagine, build, and get messy in nature as they care for the planet and one another. The experiential outdoor ecosystem that is currently in progress includes a model of self-sustaining agriculture including gardens, produce, composting, and livestock and other animals; nature-inspired making and tinkering, such as pottery, collage, wood and metalworking, weaving and textiles, painting, dye, and mixed media projects using the natural materials found onsite; a riparian zone created by a water feature; a natural playground made from the logs of massive eucalyptus; and much more. 

The Nature Lab is already being used in its current form, allowing for large-scale engineering, small-scale agriculture, and plenty of opportunities for student activism.

“If we realize the full potential of Nature Lab, we will have created a lasting resource and a living experiential outdoor facility that will help to nurture, excite, and inspire generations of Mustangs,” Fergusson said. 

An old house on the property has already been demolished, a footbridge was constructed linking “MUS proper” to the Nature Lab, a low treehouse has been fully constructed and is already been well-utilized by students, and the Nature Lab is already home to a few animals, including three chickens and one sulcata tortoise. Students are helping to design animal enclosures that better meet the needs of these animals, are more permanent, and better designed.

 In addition, a large-scale solar structure has been designed which will generate 100% of the electricity needs for the entire campus as well as provide shade for students using the northern section of the property. This structure will begin construction next month and should be completed by August. In addition, a full infrastructure plan has been designed (water, electricity, sewer, and gas) and this should also be completed by August.

By September, with the help of student designers and parent volunteers, the school hopes to create gardens, a farm stand, an outdoor kitchen, and more. The hope is that the virtual gala will bring in much-needed funds to accomplish this mission. 

“I’m incredibly grateful for the MUS Foundation for putting this on,” Dr. Ranii said. “And grateful to Simon and his team for stepping forward to support the school and bring the community together. The skill and talent of our kids has been remarkable, and it’s going to be a great show.” 

The event is May 22 at 6:30 pm. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit www.musfoundation.com/gala

Santa Barbara Education Foundation Turns Hope into Reality by Raising $71,000

On Thursday, April 29, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation hosted the Hope Awards to celebrate individuals and programs making strides for students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. 

The online gathering raised over $71,000 in critical funding for the Santa Barbara Education Foundation to continue making a positive impact on SB Unified student outcomes.

SBEF tried to make its virtual event feel like its in-person Hope Awards gatherings of years past to properly celebrate the work of Craig Price and Nick Rail for their long-time support of public education. Like in years past, the event featured a student performance. This year the Dos Pueblos High School Jazz Band helped kick off the festivities.

Craig Price is best known for his work in providing counsel in education law locally. What many may not know is that he is a leading advocate of public education. For nine years, Price served on SBEF’s Board of Directors and notably served as its president for two of those years. 

And as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Price’s daughter, Mallory, a teacher at Adams Elementary School, had the privilege of presenting the Hope Award to her father for his support of public education.

Nick Rail during the Hope Awards

Even though Nick Rail is more commonly known in the community as the founder of Nick Rail Music, he has worked for decades to make music accessible to Santa Barbara students by providing new instruments valued more than $100,000 to public school music programs. Rail also created low-cost and high-quality music instruction through the Nick Rail Summer Band Camp, which is now in its 32nd year of operation.

During Rail’s acceptance speech, he summed up his philanthropic motivation by saying, “Our future is only as good as the education we give our students, both in the classroom and in the arts.” He went on to say, “the opportunities I’ve been given to open doors to others has been my blessing in life. Thank you!”

SBEF also wishes to recognize and thank Hope Award sponsors, including Visionary Sponsors: Griffith and Thornburgh and Mechanics Bank; Ambassador Sponsors: Atkinson, Anelson,  Loya, Ruud & Romo, KBZ Architects, RHS Construction, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Toyota of Santa Barbara and Union Bank; Champion Sponsors:  Arroyo Seco, Bryant & Sons, Cottage Health Systems, DA Davidson, Frontier Technology, Future Leaders of America, LogMeIn, M.F. Strange & Associates, Montecito Bank & Trust, Montecito Journal, Pueblo Radiology Medical Group and Sage Publishing; and Underwriters: Dennis Forster, Jessica Foster Confections, and Noozhawk.

Santa Barbara Education Foundation promotes private support of Santa Barbara’s public education system, serving over 13,000 students in 19 schools. For more information, visit www.santabarbaraeducation.org.

STESA Hosts 12th Annual Chocolate de Vine Fundraiser Virtually Featuring Founder of ‘me too’, Tarana Burke

Each year, Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) hosts a fundraiser celebrating two luxurious consumables: chocolate and wine. This year’s Chocolate de Vine fundraiser will take place over live-stream on May 14, 2021 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Donations and sponsorships from this event contribute to STESA’s work to provide services to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones, and prevent sexual assault from occurring in the community. This year’s celebration of wine and chocolate features an exciting opportunity drawing, tiered ticketing and sponsorship options, and a Fireside Chat and Q&A with activist and founder of the ‘me too’ movement, Tarana Burke. 

Tarana Burke has created, led and participated in various campaigns focused on interrupting sexual violence and other systemic inequalities disproportionately impacting marginalized people, particularly Black women and girls, as well as increasing access to resources and support for impacted communities. Guests have an opportunity to submit questions for Tarana on the ticket purchase form.

This year’s opportunity drawing prize is a portrait couture makeover experience with local, award-winning photographer, Lucia Kiel. The winner of the drawing and a guest of their choosing will enjoy professional hair & makeup artistry, style & concept consultation, and a fully guided magazine style photoshoot, plus a $1,000 image credit, bringing the total prize value to $1,800.

Tickets for Chocolate de Vine can be purchased on the event website, linked here. The “M&Ms” level, which includes an access link to the event, is $25. The “White Chocolate” level, which includes an access link to the event and premium chocolate, is $100. Additional sponsorship levels, which include different amounts of premium chocolate, wine, and commemorative glasses, range from $250-$5000.

Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA) provides a 24-hour bilingual hotline (805-564-3696), confidential counseling and support services to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones. Through education and awareness, STESA is committed to change the cultural norms that enable sexual assault to exist. Our service area extends from Carpinteria to the Santa Ynez Valley.

Storyteller Children’s Center (Literally) Delivers On Their 7th Annual Lunch With Love Event

Raising funds on behalf of the therapeutic school for homeless toddlers and preschoolers, Storyteller staff, board and volunteers delivered 140 lunches (serving 560 people) to the doorsteps of would-be event guests.

Storyteller Children’s Center held its 7th annual Lunchbox Luncheon this week. As a result of pandemic circumstances, this is the second time the non-profit pivoted from an in-person event to deliver lunch to patrons and donors over a four day period. 

Participants received a delicious lunch by Duo and Mission Rose Pasta, which included a choice between homemade vegan soup, chicken noodle soups or fresh pasta. All lunches served a family of four and included freshly baked bread and a bottle of Grenache from Babcock winery.

“Storyteller’s Lunch with Love has been a great success due to incredible community involvement,” noted Storyteller Development Director, Adrienne DeGuevara.”With the support of volunteers, board members and sponsors, we’ve been able to engage long-standing donors and engage new ones. “

As a special bonus, each lunch purchase included an automatic raffle entry to win an original piece of artwork from Pedro De La Cruz, who created the celebrated Montecito Strong bear and whose artwork famously drew a $100,000 auction bid at the Storyteller Children’s Center Gala in 2018.

“While we’re eager to gather again, we are happy to partake in this effort for a second year,” noted Storyteller board member Erinn Lynch. “It offers a much-needed touchpoint with the people who support our Storyteller children and families. These ‘soul food’ lunches are delivered with gratitude and an acknowledged bond as we work together to take care of our community, despite pandemic circumstances.” 

About Storyteller: Founded in 1988, Storyteller is a full-time, therapeutic school program that supports children ages 18 months to 5 years in achieving kindergarten readiness. In addition to the approximate 80 students served per year, Storyteller also provides assistance to the entire family unit, with an emphasis on breaking the cycle of poverty for the working poor while preparing children to successfully enter kindergarten.

Sanctuary | Lotusland Online Art Sale & Gallery Exhibition

Online Art Sale & Gallery Exhibition launches on Earth Day April 22 through May 3, 2021.

Launching April 22, visit the online show or in person at GraySpace in the Funk Zone GraySpace Gallery, 219 Gray Ave., Santa Barbara, California.

Please visit: www.Lotusland.org/sanctuary/ for more information.

The invitation was sent to 36 local artists to participate. Artists were asked to create new work inspired by Lotusland. Artists were given 3 days to visit the Garden and only 8 weeks to create, capture and complete their muse at Lotusland. Whether it be a specific garden, found materials, or to create in the Garden their piece of work for the show. It was a creative concept and challenge that the artists were craving, especially this year.

Funds raised support sustainable Lotusland’s sustainability programs which promote and teach individuals, groups, gardeners, and institutions about the best methods and practices in horticulture, environmental responsibility, and stewardship.

Lotusland Executive Director, Rebecca Anderson says, “In response to the pandemic, and the shortfalls we experienced as a result, we needed to rethink fundraisers. With a desire to connect the community to our mission, we dreamed up this concept for a new benefit event with participating artists from our region. We view this online sale and show as a way to foster connection with Lotusland’s supporters, engage and encourage local artists, and sustain the Garden’s important sustainability programs.”

The artists and show are curated by volunteers Ashley Woods Hollister and Casey Turpin, and the Gallery space is sponsored by Ruth Ellen Hoag and GraySpace Gallery. “We knew this could be a special way for people to bring a piece of the Lotusland sanctuary to their own home,” explain Ashley and Casey, co-curators of the exhibition.

Participating artists include:

Paulo Lima,

R. Nelson Parrish Michael Adcock Taiana Giefer

Skip Smith Meredith Brooks Abbott

Phoebe Brunner Robert Abbott Rick Garcia Baret Boisson

Leslie Lewis Sigler Ruth Ellen Hoag

Joan Rosenberg-Dent

Kerrie Smith Michael Haber Lindsey Ross Manjari Sharma Jessica June Avrutin Bobbi Bennett Connie Connally Inga Guzyte

Maria Rendon Cara Bonewitz Lynda Weinman Blakeney Sanford Erika Carter

Cathy Moholm Luis Alberto Velazquez

Sophie Gibbings George Leo Sanders Ro Snell

Olivia Joffrey Lily Hahn Whitney Hansen

Whitney Brooks Abbott Ryan Shand

“The garden is magic, and it has touched my work in a way that will give me endless ideas and new directions for much more time to come!” – Lynda Weinman, Former Lotusland Trustee, and participating artist

“Walking alone through Lotusland on those quiet Monday mornings felt like falling down the rabbit hole into a secret world. It was truly sensory overload at every turn – layers upon layers of colors and textures and smells.” – Jessica June Avrutin, participating artist

Ashley Woods Hollister has long supported local artists through her work with Art from Scrap and as the former director of the Morris Squire Foundation. Casey Turpin is an avid volunteer in the Insectary Garden at Lotusland, and both are passionate about showcasing Lotusland’s beauty and science through the eyes of a local artist community.

Lotusland is a precious outdoor space for the Santa Barbara community. Proceeds from this event keep the Garden growing, and remains a source of beauty and respite for visitors.

The artists’ contributions advance Lotusland’s mission to inspire and inform the public about protecting, conserving, and renewing nature and its precious resources.

“Through the Sanctuary Art Sale and Exhibition, our goal is to contribute to the success of Lotusland’s horticultural care, as well as providing education to others about best practices and philosophies to support sustainability. We feel very lucky and excited to be a part of this wonderfully creative process.” – Ashley Woods Hollister & Casey Turpin, Art Curators for Sanctuary

For more information, please Contact: Kerstin Olson Horneman, Event Manager, Ganna Walska Lotusland

khorneman@lotusland.org 805.969.3767 (130)

All Together for Animals Concert

As you already know, COVID-19 has had a dire impact on the Santa Barbara Zoo and all of our nation’s AZA-accredited institutions. Due to the pandemic, the Santa Barbara Zoo has lost nearly a year of revenue. But it still needs to feed, care for, and provide medical attention for its animals – every single day. Until the Zoo can re-open to 100% capacity, it will continue to struggle financially. 

To help raise immediate funds, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums have teamed up with a lineup of today’s top country artists to produce an incredible virtual concert fundraising event – “All Together for Animals” concert on March 31, 2021, featuring performances by Brad Paisley, Old Dominion, Ashley McBryde, Wynonna Judd, Riley Green, Jessie James Decker, Shy Carter, and others!

Tickets are $30 ($15 of which directly benefits the Santa Barbara Zoo) and viewers will receive exclusive access to our “All Together for Animals” concert on March 31. 

Purchase tickets and help the Santa Barbara Zoo animals and animals all across the country. Make sure you use this exclusive link below so that the Santa Barbara Zoo receives these much-needed funds!

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!

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. 

BCRC provides emotional support and offers free services to empower women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer

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.