Storyteller’s ‘clubRED’ Attracts Record Crowd

It isn’t easy to take a huge gymnasium known for its youth basketball leagues and turn it into a swanky New York nightclub, but event planner Tamara Feller and her crew did it with style for “clubRED,” a benefit held on October 21 to raise money for Storyteller Children’s Center, a preschool for homeless children.

“The whole look was amazing,” says Yvette Giller, chair of the clubRED gala committee and a Storyteller board member. “Seeing all this come together from behind the scenes makes you appreciate how much work it is.”

With 440 guests, this year’s gala, held at the Page Youth Center, was the biggest ever for Storyteller. The preschool hoped to raise more than the $130,000 that was raised last year, in part because gala sponsorship was up approximately 25% this year. “We’re just thrilled with the response this year,” says Michele Cuttler, vice president of the board.

Storyteller Children’s Center provides tuition-free early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children in Santa Barbara county, as well as comprehensive support services for their families. Its facility, located in the former First Congregational Church parsonage house, has room for 42 children, but as many as 80 children are on the waitlist.

The success of the gala comes at an important time for Storyteller, as its board of directors is in the process of deciding whether to open a second preschool. “We see the need, and we feel a commitment to those children,” says Jon Clark, president of the Storyteller board.

In addition to providing a preschool education, Storyteller also offers parent education classes and counseling in an effort to help families take important steps towards achieving stability. Parents must attend school or find a job while their children are enrolled. “We’re really focusing on the whole family,” says Terri Allison, Storyteller’s executive director. “We’re not just graduating children, we’re graduating families as well.”

For Saturday night’s gala, red was in the details. Guests sipped Red Bull martinis, Red Stripe beer or an exotic cocktail called Red Alert. There were red lights, red candles, and for dessert, red candy. The table centerpieces were practical: red Legos, red juice boxes, red dress-up clothes, red art supplies and red musical instruments, all of which will go back to the children at Storyteller.

Dinner was served in one side of the gymnasium draped entirely in white parachute material, while radio personality Matt McAllister of KTYD performed auctioneer duties. Guests then walked underneath a huge platform VIP bar, elevated 11 feet in the air, to be surprised by a hidden all-black club side of the gym, where they danced to music played by a DJ flown in from Las Vegas.

“Fantastic party!” yelled Scott Brittingham, after peeking into the nightclub portion of the gym. “This party is A-plus,” echoed Heath Biddlecome from the dance floor.

Top sponsors of clubRED were: Kendra and Andrew Feshbach of the Big Dog Foundation; Tamara Feller of I.D.O. Events, Inc; Valerie and A.J. Rice; Elizabeth and Kenny Slaught of INVESTEC; Stephanie and Peter Sperling; and Leslie and Peter Tolan.

Other major sponsors included: Louise and Tim Casey; Classic Party Rentals; Tiffany and Frank Foster; Lisa and David Wolf; Daniel C. Gainey Foundation; Marisa and Brett Grimes; Susan and Palmer Jackson, Jr., of the Ann Jackson Family Foundation; McCoy Construction; Montecito Bank & Trust; Santa Barbara Bank & Trust; Jessica and Michael Schaeman; Wells Fargo Private Client Services; and Laura Williams.