The CALM Gourmet Luncheon

Celebrating 36 years of fundraising and friendraising, CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation) Auxiliary invited associates, sustainers, and honorary members to a gourmet luncheon at the ultra modern Hope Ranch home of Blanca and Leon Pressor.

Tables with umbrellas dotted the lawn. We sipped wine and enjoyed the view before helping ourselves to an al fresco lunch. There were dozens of salads and desserts to choose from, all made by the members.

President Joanne Nelson introduced the new slate of officers: “First Vice President Toni Kipp, Second Vice President Shirley Waxman, Recording Secretary Dale McCaskey, Corresponding Secretary Marty Silverman, Treasurer Martha Rogers and Parliamentarian Carolyn Gillio with me as President one more year.”

The closely guarded secret of the day was the presentation of the Clair Miles (founder of CALM) award for outstanding service. Meredith Scott was surprised not only to receive it but that her husband, daughter, and parents were there to share her joy.

Trudy Carey presented a check for $2,500 from Mid-State Bank Foundation. CALM Executive Director Anna Kokotovic was called to the microphone and received a check for $75,000 to help with ongoing expenses from the Auxiliary.

The CALM Auxiliary works hard all year to raise these funds, giving the Authors’ Luncheon, the Design House and the Antique Shows at Earl Warren Showgrounds. Show Manager April Thede told us, “ Among the many antiques and decorative arts this year, Ty Warner has donated old furniture from his various properties around the world, giving all the proceeds to CALM.” Look for the next show September 28, 29 and 30. I hear rave reviews no matter what your budget.

Hillside House: Men & Women of Purpose

“Here she comes, Miss America. Here she comes, your ideal!” Many a young girl’s dream, or at least it was for many of us growing up in a different time. A show I followed on TV ever since the “dark” ages of the ‘50s. Although I have taken pictures of many celebs over the years, I must admit to being star struck meeting Miss America from 1995, Heather Whitestone McCallum. It happened at the Hillside House “Women of Purpose” Luncheon given in one of the gardens on the 25-acre estate El Mirador in Montecito. There she was with her crown, not on but in her hand.

Heather told me, “I travel with it to all my talks so people can try it on and have a photo taken.” I couldn’t resist posing with her as she lifted the heavy rhinestone encrusted piece up to my head and tried to keep it straight. They always had trouble too on the show before the runway walk.

Hillside House is a residential treatment facility for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Heather was the first woman with a disability to be crowned Miss America. She was declared deaf from an illness at 18 months. “The doctors told my mother I would never achieve beyond a third-grade level, let alone dance ballet,” Heather relates, noting that it was ballet that became her talent in the pageant. She wanted the scholarships and after three tries she became Miss Alabama and then Miss America.

Heather explained how many years she had to practice her ballet piece because she couldn’t hear the music or vibrations and didn’t know when the music had started or ended. She and her choreographer spent a year learning two and a half minutes of music and dance. Then two more years performing locally so she could perfect it. She said she prayed, “God, I’m sure tired of this piece but some things are good about being deaf. My husband snores a lot.” She has two boys, ages six and seven, and is expecting a third child this summer. She and her family live on St. Simons Island, Georgia. “Let God Surprise You” is the title of her book.

The honoree of the day was Phil Womble. “I lived at Hillside house for twenty-eight years,” he said, revealing that he moved there when he was 26 and didn’t get his own apartment until age 54. “Hillside House has evolved over the years,” he continued, “from being merely a residential care facility to a place that encourages the development of each individual’s potential toward independence.”

Phil is in a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy but that doesn’t stop him. Through his love of sports he has become the unofficial UCSB historian of the basketball and baseball teams. He has been inducted into the UCSB Athletics Hall of Fame and a major scholarship fund and the new Hall of Champions have been named in his honor. He serves on a County Board of Directors of United Cerebral Palsy and is a Board member of the Santa Barbara Athletic Roundtable where the Ethics in Athletics award bears his name. Besides Phil receiving this day the “Man of Purpose” Award there was an extra surprise of an autographed basketball signed by every one of the Los Angeles Lakers. His response: “ We see a lot of bad things in this world and many good things, like this luncheon and the amount of love here today.”

Co-chairs were Norris Goss, Nancy Read and Jim Wolfe. Jim recognized his male compatriots, and joked, “These twenty Men of Excellence each paid a thousand dollars to have lunch with two hundred women.” Executive Director Pam Flynt Tambo explained, “We have fifty-nine residents and over seventy-five people who see to their needs.” Lee Troesch, mother of one of the residents expressed her thanks: “Nothing can substitute knowing that Katie is in good hands and living the best quality of life she could have under the circumstances.” The program promised an inspirational benefit luncheon and it really was!