The Women of Purpose Luncheon, May 17

Santa Barbara-based treatment facility Hillside House will be presenting Women Of Purpose, its fourth annual benefit luncheon, on Thursday, May 17. The event will honor Phil Womble, a Hillside House “alumnus,” and will feature Heather Whitestone McCallum as keynote speaker. McCallum, who was declared deaf at the age of 18 months old and made an improbable and heroic rise to become Miss America in 1995, will speak on the topic, “With God’s Help, Anything Is Possible.”

“She has such a remarkable story to tell about beating the odds,” says Nancy Read, the event’s co-chair, of McCallum. “That is something that will affect everyone and touch them in some way.”

Early on in her life, McCallum had been told she would never achieve beyond a third grade level of education, let alone dance ballet. She would eventually become the first woman with a disability to be crowned Miss America, using ballet as her talent. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two sons.

Hosted by co-chairs Norris Goss, Jim Wolfe and Read, the luncheon will again take place at the Montecito estate, El Mirador. With a goal of raising about $75,000 this year, the organization is again relying on this flagship event to meet fiscal expectations.

The luncheon will feature its “Men of Excellence” table, in which each man contributes $1,000 for his seat. Local sponsors such as Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Bryant & Sons, Pepper Tree Inn, Venoco, MarBorg Industries, Ty Inc and Brighton Accessories have also made donations.

During the outdoor proceedings beneath a canopy of shady palms, Hillside House will honor Phil Womble, a former Hillside resident who overcame the handicaps of cerebral palsy to live on his own for the last 17 years.

Womble now serves as the unofficial UCSB historian of both the basketball and baseball teams, and he has even been inducted into the UCSB Athletics Hall of Fame. He also serves on the Santa Barbara County Board of Directors of United Cerebral Palsy and is a board member for the Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable, whose Ethics in Athletics award bears his name.

A live auction will also take place at the event, giving guests the opportunity to bid on pieces as a way of donating to Hillside House. One of the items featured will be an original watercolor of El Mirador done by Karen McGaw.

Hillside House is a residential treatment facility in Santa Barbara for people with cerebral palsy and other significant disabilities with the mission “to provide a home that supports our residents’ efforts to maximize their physical, cognitive, social and emotional disabilities so that they can achieve the highest level of independence in an environment where people are treated with dignity and respect.”

In addition to caring for patients, Hillside House caretakers devote themselves to helping support those residents. Through grants, donations and local events, it is able to support 59 residents. While most of the organization’s budget is financed by state taxpayers, about a sixth of the money is raised through private donations, including the annual luncheon.

The luncheon will take place from 11:15 am to 2 pm at El Mirador, 800 Cold Spring Road. For more information contact Curt Lauber at 805-687-0788, ext. 15.