Big Gifts in Multiples of Two

How would you like to belong to a charity where you don’t come to meetings or events? You don’t have to write invitations or do much else. That describes membership for the Women’s Fund, whose members get together for a luncheon once a year to present their donations to the lucky winners. This is their third year with the luncheon being held at El Paseo restaurant and completely underwritten by owner and Women’s Fund member Meredith Scott and husband, John.

There are a couple of committees but members do not have to volunteer. Elna Scheinfeld and Scott are co-chairs for the oversight committee, a group that has numerous tasks, including being watchdogs for the group, tracking contributions, membership letters, planning the annual presentation event and coordinating group memberships.

Melissa Brooks and Jo Gifford headed up the research committee for 2006. They accepted suggestions from members and the community in considering potential projects to fund. Santa Barbara Foundation underwrites the expenses for Women’s Fund operations and the committee uses research done by the foundation. “We connect people who care with causes that matter,” Chuck Schlosser, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, told the group.

There was an electricity in the restaurant because the winners are a surprise to the general membership and even the executive directors didn’t know about the biggest surprise. Lois Mitchell, president of the Orfalea Fund, was there to let them know Paul Orfalea would be matching the gifts.

Court Appointed Special Advocates, better known as CASA, was awarded $180,000 (instead of $90,000) to renovate and equip its new permanent home across the street from the County Courthouse. CASA’s volunteers help abused and neglected foster children in court and ensure their placement in a safe, permanent nurturing home. Maria Long is executive director and Randy Glick is board president.

Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, which provides 24-hour crisis intervention, counseling and referrals, was given $100,000 to help remodel and furnish its new home. Executive Director Elsa Granados was there with Board President Sylvia Hendlin and Hilary Kleger, the development director.

Child Abuse Listening & Mediation, or CALM, a program designed to keep children from abuse, neglect or placement in foster care, received $100,000 to help fund its Great Beginnings program, which targets at-risk pregnant and parenting teens and their family members. Two hundred and twenty people from 83 families received services in 2005-06, according to CALM statistics. Executive Director Anna Kokotovic and Board President Fred Clough received the check.

Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse got $105,000 to help reduce substance abuse in secondary school students. These funds will allow them to hire therapeutic youth service specialists, licensed marriage and family therapists or interns. The service specialist is hired to identify high-risk students who may be suicidal, abused or depressed and might self-medicate with alcohol or drug abuse. Director Penny Jenkins and Chairman of the Board Don Lafler were on hand to accept the donation.

There was one last surprise. The Orfalea Foundation announced it would match dollar-for-dollar all funds raised in 2007. As Jean Schuyler told me, “Be sure and say we’re looking for members.”

Call Meredith Scott at 967-1954 for info.

Standing Room Only

Actually there wasn’t any standing room in Montecito Hall either. People were clear out the doors on both sides trying to see and hear the new owner of the Miramar Hotel, Rick Caruso. Charming, Hollywood handsome and erudite, Caruso told the audience of his hopes and plans for the site while asking them their wishes. Many attending were immediate neighbors of the property and most had lived in Montecito for a long time – people like Sharol Seimens, Maxi Decker, Fannie Flagg, David Myrick, Phyllis de Piciotto and MJ publisher emeritus James Buckley.

The audience didn’t seem to care about keeping the Miramar’s fabled blue roofs since they weren’t original anyway, but done in the ‘40s era to draw attention. Yea! Some expressed how important the convention center was to the community, something Caruso hadn’t realized at first. “Will the raft be put back in the ocean for the kids to swim out to?” Someone queried.

“Absolutely,” Caruso responded. “However the old raft is on the property. If anyone wants it, I’ll deliver it!”

When asked about the train tracks bisecting the property, Caruso joked, “We’re going to celebrate it!” What else can you do?

Caruso discovered some yellowing sheet music in an old scrapbook with a song written about the resort. One of the lines is “Come by the Miramar and have a drink or three by the sea.” Caruso had one of his songwriter friends piece it together and play it for us along with nostalgic photos from early days when girls only wore one-piece swimsuits.

We’ll all be there for a drink or three around the beginning of 2010!