Melissa Says Good-Bye

As you read this, Melissa McCabe, after two years as San Ysidro Pharmacy’s pharmacist, is on her way to take up a position as inpatient pharmacist at Children’s Hospital in San Diego; her last day in Montecito was Tuesday, March 6. Her father, Cold Spring School Superintendent/Principal Bryan McCabe, and her mother, Pamela (the two met while attending college at UCSB), however, will stay behind.

Melissa grew up in Santa Barbara and attended kindergarten at Howard School when it was located on San Ysidro Road (where Laguna Blanca Lower School is now). Afterwards, she attended Foothill Elementary School in Goleta, Marymount (from 5th to 8th grade), Santa Barbara High School “for the first couple of years,” and graduated from Dunn School in Los Olivos. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacological Chemistry from UC San Diego and a Doctorate of Pharmacy in 2002 from UC San Francisco.

San Ysidro Pharmacy is a locally owned independent drug store that, according to owner Steve Hoyt, “numbers among the top one percent” of independents that compound medications on the premises, fulfilling some 60 to 70 prescriptions a day with their own hormone replacement, veterinarian, and pain management compounds. Hoyt introduced compounding to San Ysidro Pharmacy in 2001.

“Compounding is a great art in pharmacy,” Melissa says during a short interview on her last day at work, “where we take different chemicals and put them into various creams and solutions. Traditional pharmacies used to do things like this,” she continues, “but now a lot of the Walgreens, Longs, and Safeways don’t have the time – or the art is not there – to do it anymore.” She says because the San Ysidro Pharmacy team makes many of its own compounds she and her staff spend a lot of time talking to patients, trying to understand what their needs are, and talking to doctors and explaining what they do, and because of that intense interaction, they have developed close ties with many of their customers.

Melissa says that although she’ll miss those relationships, she is confident her customers will continue to be well served. “When people come in to the pharmacy here, they’re greeted by a team of people,” she says. “What is unique about this place,” she observes, “is that it isn’t just one person that has a relationship with a customer; there are several people.” She says she knows “the rest of the staff is going to do a great job taking care of [my] customers,” but that she’ll miss being here in Montecito just the same. “It’s a great community to be part of,” she says before saying good-bye.

Another Home Run For Westmont

The official count was 813, and there were at least that many that attended Westmont College’s second annual President’s Breakfast on Wednesday February 28. By 7 am, the entire parking lot at Fess Parker’s Double Tree where the event would take place was jammed and there were no parking spaces on any of the streets nearby. This was a testament not only to Westmont but also to the power of the pen: New York Times three-time Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist and author (“Lexus and the Olive Tree,” “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” “The World is Flat”) Thomas Friedman was the featured speaker.

Mr. Friedman sat at the head table that included David and Helene Winter, Kate and Brooks Firestone, Leslie Ridley-Tree, and Peter MacDougall. The first thing to take our attention away from the strange French Toast breakfast was the Westmont Choir, some forty-plus strong, who sang a rousing version of Ben Allaway’s “From This House,” a cappella (accompanied by conga drums) and in Swahili.

Penny Jenkins, Chair of the Board of Directors of Westmont Foundation, welcomed all and introduced Reverend Harold Bussell of El Montecito Presbyterian Church, who offered the invocation before remarks by Chancellor David Winter. The Pierre Claeyssens Veterans’ Museum & Library was lead sponsor of the event.

Friedman opened his remarks by noting that the world was indeed flat, evidenced by an Evangelical Christian college choosing a Presbyterian minister to deliver the invocation, featuring an African-style chant by a choir singing in Swahili, and by inviting a Jewish writer as its featured speaker.

Friedman spent the next forty minutes explaining the genesis of “The World Is Flat,” and concluded with the observation that, while the Internet has created many challenges to the dominance of the United States posed by both India and China, no one should count the U.S. out of the game. He closed with this optimistic quip he says was “just a little thing grandmother Friedman used to say:” “Tom, never cede a century to a country that censors Google.”

Benemerenti Award for Borgatellos

Laura and Ida Borgatello have been members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish their entire lives. Both sisters were born in Montecito and as small girls they would bring bouquets of flowers to the altar at Mt. Carmel, a tradition that continues to this day. Local nurseries donate Christmas and Easter plants, but it is the Borgatello sisters who are responsible for the arrangements. For many years, Ida and Laura held a “bake sale” for the benefit of the African Missions.

Because of their service and devotion, Cardinal Roger Mahony awarded the two women with a Papal Benemerenti Medal on October 1, 2006, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the parish. Parish priest Father Maurice O’Mahony presented it to the two ladies during the annual Appreciation Dinner for Volunteers on February 17.

The medal was instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832, and is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Catholic Church, their families and community. It has the word Benemerenti (to a well deserving person) on its face, and is surrounded by a crown of oak leaves; the ribbon is made of Papal colors (yellow and white).

Space For Montecito

Montecito Village Travel has been chosen by Virgin Atlantic as the Central Coast’s exclusive agent for its Virgin Galactic space trips. The program is to launch six passengers (there will be two pilots) some 75 miles above the earth in a sub-orbital two-and-a-half-hour trip. They’ll leave from a Mojave Desert launch site; the cost: $200,000 per person.

During a recent telephone conversation, Craig Buck of Village Travel explained that his participation with Virgin began through his designation as a Virtuoso Agent. “When Virgin decided it was going to get into this business,” Craig says, “they did not just want to throw it out there to the travel industry, so they decided they were going to offer it only through qualified Virtuoso Agents.

About a year ago Craig received the invitation to represent Virgin Galactic and completed a 20-page questionnaire, underwent a lengthy telephone interview, and then a conference call with Carolyn Wincer, Head of Astronaut Sales at Virgin, who announced that Montecito Travel had been selected as an accredited Space Agent, one of only 46 in North America.

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman and Inaugural Astronaut at Virgin Galactic promises the flights will be safe and to illustrate that he will be the first passenger, along with his wife, his children, and his parents (who are 91 and 86). The first trip is scheduled “if things go as predicted” – for sometime in late 2009.

“I would love to go,” says Buck, “but there are no free rides.” He did say, however, that he would volunteer if there were a last-minute cancellation. Reservations are now being accepted at Montecito Travel, 1485 East Valley Road (805-969-5096), where agent John Glowicki and owner Colin Weatherhead would be happy to book your flight.