Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara filled the ballroom for its sixth annual luncheon “Celebrating Women and Girls” at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort. It’s a special event created to honor the women who contributed to the book “Letters from the Heart,” published in 2001 by Girls Inc. It tells personal stories of inspiration from 40 women such as Senator Dianne Feinstein, writer Sue Grafton and the late chef Julia Child. The book upholds the Girls Inc. mission to “inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.” Lorraine Wilson and her daughter Stephanie Wilson were co-editors of the book.

Executive Director Monica Spear introduced a film that is shown throughout the United States with girls telling us what they need to hear: “Tell me I’m amazing but not for how I look. Tell me getting dirty hands is fun. Tell me there’s nothing I can’t do. Tell me I’m smart. Tell me to take risks.” It ends with, “Tell her!” Pretty powerful stuff! Christina Valdiva, age 8, says, “I think that when you know a lot, you are powerful.”

Jordan Altshuler, Noelly Mendoza and Bridgette Yeakel each told the audience what Girls Inc. has given them: self-esteem, leadership abilities, friends, safety from being home alone and much more. They have a waiting list of girls who can’t attend because of lack of space, but Girls Inc. is building a new facility on Hollister Avenue and needs an additional $2 million to finish. During the event, Spear asked for building donations and received one each for $100,000, $50,000, $25,000, $10,000 with several of $1,000. Others gave any amount they could.

Featured speaker Deborah Talmage was the first woman to hold a judicial position in Santa Barbara. She is now Court Commissioner for the drug court. She says every woman that comes through her court with drug or alcohol abuse problems was molested as a child.

She continued, “I was raised as a fifties child in a good home, but with no female role models. After four years of college I was a clerk in a department store.” She went to law school at 23 because her girlfriend did. “I was a late bloomer,” she says, “not like the little girl who at thirteen said I want to be a lawyer because I like to argue a lot.”

The other speaker was editor in chief and co-founder of the Santa Barbara Independent, Marianne Partridge, who before moving to Santa Barbara 27 years ago was the first female editor of the Village Voice and the first woman senior editor of Rolling Stone magazine.

Partridge gave the audience a family anecdote about her daughter naming all the presidents of the United States. Her little brother finally interrupted and said, “You’re only naming the boy presidents. Where are the girl presidents?” She pointed out that after 250 years we finally have the first woman Speaker of the House.

Event co-chairs were Donna Barranco Fisher and Martha Salas helped by Rebecca Anderson, Michelle Berman, Patricia Durham, Alexandra Halsey, Monica Spear, Stephanie Wilson and Sheila Zimmerman.

If you would like to be involved with Girls Inc. in any way, please call 963-4757.


Friends of LifeChronicles Anne Towbes, Keith Berry, T. J. Locker and Larry Crandell invited guests for cocktails at the home of Julianna Friedman and Tom Dain. This was a party where the crowd gathered in the kitchen for drinks and snacks. Then emcee Debby Davison (newly retired TV anchor and bride) called everyone into the living room for the reason for the party.

Debby told us, “There were only fifteen groups doing personal histories before 1996 and there are six hundred now, but most charge a lot.” That’s what the non-profit LifeChronicles is all about – videotaping life histories for many reasons. Some videos are done for patients who are terminally ill or ones who are in early stages of Alzheimer’s. Others are produced for children to watch while they are isolated during hospitalization. There’s also a Tiny Talks program to tape a mother who has decided to place her child for adoption. The classic generation might share their life stories on tape for their grandkids. Another is the While I’m Away program for men and women in the armed forces who are deployed and have very young children or one born while they’re gone.

Anne Smith said, “Since 1998 LifeChronicles has done three hundred fifty videos with one hundred seventy student videographers participating.” There has been publicity on CBS News, Discovery Channel and People magazine, to name a few. Founder Kate Carter spoke of a 9-year-old child who said, just weeks after her father had passed away, “My mommy watches our video every morning before she goes to work.” Months before, they had videotaped her father. He and his wife both spoke of the peace of mind it gave them to know their children would have this video memory after he was gone.

Board member Warner McGrew and former Santa Barbara Fire Chief joked, “I had to sign the fire permit for Larry Crandell’s birthday cake.” Then Larry got up and did what he does best – getting people to donate to charity. And they did. No one is denied service due to inability to pay even though it costs LifeChronicles an average of $3,500 to produce each video.

Credit for the event goes to many, including Sharon Morrow, Kate Carter and the LifeChronicles Auxiliary. There is also a stellar board headed up by Linda Schwartz.

Call 966-3411 for information.