‘A Night of Gaiety’

Our Lady of Mount Carmel School turned the Bacara Resort ballroom into a Spanish village with its gala La Noche de Ronda or “A Night of Gaiety.” Ronda is also one of my very favorite cliff-hanging villages in Spain where bullfighting began.

About 450 parents, friends and parishioners arrived, many ladies resplendent in ruffles, mantillas and fans. Champagne and wine flowed during the huge silent auction. You could bid on a variety of items, including an Italian cooking class, a getaway to Pismo Beach at the Sandcastle Inn or an overnight stay at Circle Bar B Guest Ranch.

The ballroom came alive, filled with tables covered in crayon red cloths centered with floral and fruit arrangements topped with small black Spanish fans. The stage was elevated and circled with lights like a village plaza where the Jose Elizarraraz’s Ensamble Vientos Del Sur played and Melissa Ornelas’s company danced flamenco.

Master of Ceremonies was Paula Lopez, KEYT’s news anchoress. As Mount Carmel Principal Karen Regan said, “Paula has always championed programs that enrich children lives.” Father Maurice O’Mahony told the audience, “You are the greatest!” He gave a short benediction joking, “If you want a longer blessing, go see a Jesuit!”

Everyone lined up at the buffet to try Basque-style chicken, saffron cauliflower and asparagus and other Spanish delights. After dessert it was time for auctioneer Tony Arons to kick off the live auction. Parents couldn’t wait to bid on the class projects done by their children from a quilt with photos of each child to a planter set with hand-painted tiles by the kids. There were other enticing things, like four premium tickets to a Lakers game.

Happy co-chairs of this 23rd annual auction were Pam Langhorne and Karen Graf with their committee Cristina Ricci, Trish Soriano, Armando Martinez, Lynn Springer, Lisa Rios, Maureen Gaasch, Armandina Castellanos and Rhonda Henderson. More helpers were Susan Pate, Mary Robles, Letty Uribe, Gaby Breuer, Rachelle Garcia, Laurie Cordeniz, Tina DaRos, Diane Ziliotto and Tricia Durflinger.

The proceeds went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel programs, including Fund the Need, where you can adopt a student who wouldn’t be able to attend because of financial hardship. Kudos to all the parents who worked so hard for the kids!

‘Paying Back is Paying Forward’

I didn’t know that November 15 was National Philanthropy Day until the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties invited me to its annual luncheon at Spanish Hills Country Club, in Camarillo. The venue was stunning, located on a hill overlooking the Ventura Valley.

All the members of the group are professional fundraisers. They reminded me that the first three letters of the word fundraiser are “fun” and that the members love what they do. Emcee Tim Gallagher (publisher and president of the Ventura County Star) told the audience, “America has a phenomena of forming associations. One person gets an idea and they form a group, which gives power to that idea. Many of these groups are philanthropic, which has been an American trait from the beginning and one of the things that has made America great.”

Co-chairs Peter Wright and Anne Kratz were meeting and greeting. Co-President of AFP Tamara Skov welcomed the audience as we sat down to lunch. Gallagher quipped, “My job is to introduce the presenters who will tell you how great the winners are!” And they were.

Chuck Slosser, who is president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, introduced Philanthropists of the Year (Santa Barbara county) Jean and Barry Schuyler, who have been involved in 14 organizations, as of yesterday. Of their many credits and honors, I learned that when Santa Barbara was going to lose its classical station (one of only 28 left in the United States) the Schuylers stepped in to save it. “We believe that paying back is paying forward,” Barry says, and Jean hopes everyone carries on the tradition.

Fielding Graduate University Provost Anna DiStefano introduced Volunteer of the Year (Santa Barbara county) Harriet Miller by saying, “Harriet was mayor in 1995 and 1997 and some believe if not for term limits she would still be there.” Miller responded: “It’s great to be honored for what you enjoy doing. I grew up in a small town in Idaho with parents who worked. But they gave back and taught me to. When I left the mayor’s office I remembered the three T’s – time, talent and treasure. Since I don’t have an abundance of treasure, I do other things.” She certainly does. She heads up the Granada restoration.

Others honored from Ventura county were Philanthropist of the Year Gloria Friedrich Reed, Volunteer of the Year Katie Waunch and Professional Fundraiser Edward N. Lewis.