GIRLS INC., 21ST SCHOLARSHIP LUNCHEON

“Seeds of Hope” was a perfect theme for the One Hundred Committee’s 21st Scholarship Luncheon benefiting Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara. It was all about girls from age 5 to 18 and their dreams for the future. Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai came to Santa Barbara from Kenya to speak and inspire. Oprah Winfrey surprised the audience by escorting her friend Maathai to their luncheon table.

The 400 guests were shuttled from Page Youth Center to Betty Stephens’s hilltop Hope Ranch estate for a garden party extraordinaire. Rather than walk the usual red carpet, we were led on the green variety to wine stations that were set around several terraces so everyone could enjoy the 360-degree views during the reception.

After adjourning to the gigantic tent, hostess Betty said, “I’d like to welcome all of you to my hangar. It’s interesting to see so many Montecito people. Do you realize you’re on the wrong side of town – halfway between Saks and Costco? You have Upper and Lower Villages. We have Five Points. You have a better chance of parking, especially when Ross for Less has Senior Day. Oprah, you have been invited to my house so now you owe me one.”

For this 21st year, co-chair Melanie Taft announced the event sold out and was totally underwritten. Her co-chair Lisa Loiacono reminded the audience, “We still need two million dollars to finish the twenty-thousand-square-foot facility we’re building in Goleta.” There’s a list of more than 80 girls waiting to attend. Chairman of the Board Sheila Zimmerman complimented fellow members by saying, “It is a roll up your sleeves working board.”

One of the day’s delights was a chorus of 30 Girls Inc., gals in orange tee shirts ages 5 to 12 singing for us. Songwriting hall-of-famer Jeff Barry conducted them. ”Jeff composed a first ever Girls Inc., song, which will be sung across the country (at other facilities), and hopefully throughout the world,” said Monica Spear, executive director.

“Someday – we’ll look back on this day when we were sisters together in the fold smiling. We’ll remember how we learned to be strong, smart and bold.

Someday – not too far away we’ll be out there going for the gold, knowing we can do it ‘cause we all will be strong, smart and bold.

Girls today, women tomorrow and someday the daughters that we hold we will teach to be strong, smart and bold.”

Ten thousand dollars was raised instantly (auction style) for the girls to sing it again. Barry said he learned it was more important to sing the words loud than to pay attention to the notes. They sang it even louder the second time.

After staying at Oprah’s digs Wangari Maathai said, “For the first time in my life I got to sleep like a princess.” When she was little one of her brothers asked their mother why Maathai didn’t go to school with them. Her Mom thought, “Why not?” Little did she realize her daughter would go to college at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas and become the first African woman and environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

After earning her degree, she returned home to central Kenya to promote the Green Belt Movement, which pays poor women to raise saplings. More than 30 millions trees have been planted in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. Being raised in what she considers a male-dominated society hasn’t been easy, says Maathai. She has been jailed for her beliefs and Amnesty International freed her. She says girls need someone to speak for them when they are small, as her mother did for her. You never know who that might be.

Everyday Girls Inc., serves more than 1,000 kids locally at two centers and six elementary schools. Nearly half are from single parent families.

For more info call 963-4757 or log on www.girlsincsb.org.

Las Aletas Spring Smash

You always know when “spring has sprung” when Las Aletas Auxiliary of Assistance League gives its annual round robin invitational tennis tournament – this the l5th and is its only fundraiser of the year. Marianne and Stephen Blick opened their Campanil Drive home for the luncheon and fashion show following a morning on the courts.

Las Aletas President Harriet Phillips, co-chairs Gayle Young and Kathie McClure and members greeted guests as they gathered around the swimming pool to chat and decide which raffle prize they wanted to vie for. Country Catering Co., loaded the buffet table with sandwiches, salads and cookies and everyone loaded their plates.

In the house, member models and kids were busy dressing for the fashion show from Talbot’s and The Tennis Shop of Montecito. While we munched lunch they paraded through all the tables on the upper and lower terraces showing us the latest styles for on and off the court.

Some of the hard workers were Gretchen Olenberger, Kelly Schulz, Diana Chaves, Lisa Gorrell, Priscilla Bedolla, Linda Edgar, Joan Winter, Rebecca McNeil, Jan McGuire, Carol Weston, Lisa Abreu, Carolyn Callahan and Pamela Vander Heide.

All proceeds go to projects like Operation School Bell where last year 500 Goleta children ages 4-12 were given new clothing, shoes and hygiene products. Operation Bookshelf offers homebound patrons books from the Goleta Library with drop-off and pick-up service. Kids on the Block educates elementary age children using life-size puppets and scripts about safety, bullying and getting along with others. High schoolers can earn service hours toward graduation. Some of them helped with the tennis luncheon. The Assistance League Thrift Shop helps support as well.

Check out the shop at 1259 Veronica Springs Road. It’s a great place to buy or to donate your extra clutter. Call 687-9717 for hours and information.

‘Vino e Verdi’

Santa Barbara’s Mural Room in the County Courthouse was the idyllic setting for “Vino e Verdi” to celebrate the final phase of the Granada restoration campaign. The corridor looking over the Sunken Gardens was where guests feasted on antipasti and great Italian wines before going into the Mural Room for opera.

Maestro Valery Ryvkin, artistic director of Opera Santa Barbara, accompanied Paula Goodman Wilder, Antonio Nagore and Kenneth Smithfield (all from the San Francisco and Los Angeles Operas) in a mini program ending with Libiamo from La Traviata. That’s the familiar “let’s drink and enjoy” song – a toast to the evening.

Granada Board President Harriet Miller gave a special tribute to Chief Financial Officer Sara Miller McCune, who just gave an additional $1 million to the $4 million she gave previously. Others who have given $5 million are the Wendy McCaw Foundation, Michael Towbes and Irma and Morrie Jurkowitz. The campaign has a ways to go, now that the renovation costs have risen to $50 million.

Executive director Peter Frisch surprised volunteer Wayne Benner by giving him a picture of the Granada for his service. Frisch also announced, “After two years we finally have the building permit so we can start construction May 15.”

Among the guests was architect Roger Phillips, interior designer for the Granada project with the PMSM firm. His beautiful renderings adorn the publicity brochures and newsletter of the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts.

Some fun facts about the Granada: Charles Urton, who constructed the theatre, sent away for “how to” books to help him. The building withstood the 1925 earthquake. The word “Granada” means “pomegranate.” Grand opening theatergoers paid $4 a ticket in 1924 to see the Theo Kosloff ballet and a world premiere of “Mademoiselle Midnight” starring Mae Murray (the girl with the bee-stung lips – before Botox). Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire performed in person in 1949 and Henry Fonda gave a live performance of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial in 1953. After the restoration the grand old theatre will reportedly be good for another 100 years.

Cabana Home

A class act in the Funk Zone. Caroline and Steve Thompson’s new furnishings store, Cabana Home, 111 Santa Barbara Street, debuted with a festive cocktail party benefiting the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. There was valet parking, a jazz quartet, wine and cocktail bars in the courtyard, and inside waiters passed mini sandwiches from Tupelo Junction’s Chef Katie Scott. Toward the end of the evening there were even mini milkshakes and cookies. More than 300 guests, including design cognoscenti and art supporters, were mingling and checking out the store.

Caroline and Steve, who came from Dallas where they worked at Neiman Marcus, have built or redesigned 28 homes in Dallas, Santa Fe and Santa Barbara. When they moved here, they said they scoured the region for furnishings and design accessories, but their search came up empty. And so emerged Cabana Home. With a combination of antiques and custom-made pieces the result is traditional with an edge, capturing the essence of Santa Barbara style.

When the valet brought our car, we found on the seat a candle in a burlap Cabana Home drawstring bag saying, “You’ve brightened our evening – Caroline & Steve.”

The feeling was mutual.