Cheers for Wildlife Conservation

This story as it appeared in 805 Living, July/August 2019. Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo.

This story as it appeared in 805 Living, July/August 2019. Photo courtesy Santa Barbara Zoo.

Something cold, refreshing, and eco-friendly is brewing at the Santa Barbara Zoo (sbzoo.org) this summer. Sales of Zoo Brew, a custom California pale ale produced by Ventura Coast Brewing Company (vcbc.beer), have already exceeded expectations, says zoo culinary programs manager Emily Largey. While the zoo gets the profits, the beer serves an even more important role as a vehicle to educate adults about animal conservation efforts. “Learning isn’t just for the kids,” Largey says. “The conservation messaging on the first can is ‘Drink beer, save wildlife.’ Each season we’ll roll out a new beer and a new label featuring an endangered or protected animal at the zoo.” 

This story originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of 805 Living.

805 Living Pulse Jul-Aug 2019 (click here to see the story as it appeared in 805 Living)

 

 

Don’t Miss Fiesta’s Wildest Party

Celebracion de la DignatariosAs longtime locals know, Celebración de Los Dignatarios—Fiesta’s wildest party at the Santa Barbara Zoo—is the hot place to dance the night away alongside lions, snow leopards, elephants and elected officials!

With live entertainment, dancing to King Bee (a personal favorite), mariachis, margaritas and tempting treats from more than 20 local restaurants, not to mention loads of lovely señors and señoritas in beautiful costumes, this is without a doubt one of the best places for party animals to strut their stuff.

Need further convincing? Celebración de Los Dignatarios is also a joint fundraiser for Old Spanish Days and Santa Barbara Zoo. And it’s this Thursday night, July 31, from 5–10 p.m. Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Niños Dr. 805/962-8101, oldspanishdays-fiesta.org.

Courtesy of Old Spanish Days

Courtesy of Old Spanish Days

Buy tickets at local Albertsons, at the Santa Barbara Zoo or online.

You can park at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort and catch the Dignatarios shuttle in the parking lot.

Hope to see you there!

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on July 30, 2014.

Local Arts and Culture Nonprofits Join Giving Tuesday Movement to Encourage Nonprofit Support

image003First there was Black Friday. Then there was Cyber Monday and now we have Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, December 3.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Ensemble Theatre Company, Ganna Walska Lotusland, Lobero Theatre Foundation, Music Academy of the West, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, Santa Barbara Dance Institute, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Zoo, State Street Ballet, The Granada Theatre, and Wildling Museum have joined Giving Tuesday, a first of its kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners—charities, families, businesses and individuals—to transform the way people talk about, think about and participate in the giving season.

Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season, the aim of Giving Tuesday is to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the causes they support and ultimately help to create a better world.

Launched in 2012, Giving Tuesday welcomed more than 2,500 partners from all 50 states in the U.S. The collective efforts of partners, donors, and advocates helped fuel a 50% increase in online giving. Last year more than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about Giving Tuesday―resulting in milestone trending on Twitter.

Sounds like a lovely idea to us!

For more information about the Giving Tuesday initiative and to search participating nonprofits in the Santa Barbara area, visit www.givingtuesday.org.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS on December 1, 2103.

Lionesses of Winter

They Take Pride in Giving Back

It takes passion, money and a lot of hard work for Santa Barbara’s most treasured nonprofit organizations to thrive. This community tradition of giving back by supporting education, caring for those in need, and sharing a love for nature and the arts has an incredibly generous cast of leading ladies at its helm. Not content to simply be the torchbearers, they are also keeping an eye toward the next generation of the philanthropic community.

“I’m trying to spread the circle,” says Shirley Ann Hurley. “I’ve brought young women into my life who care passionately about these sorts of things that I do and they stimulate me and …I love the excitement that is getting to know all of these wonderful people.”

Let’s meet a few of the women who help keep the community alive and well.

The Leading Ladies

Betty Hatch

La Belle Foundation, Granada Theatre, Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., Hospice, CAMA, Cottage Hospital, Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Arts Fund, Santa Barbara Zoo, Santa Barbara Art Association, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Ballet

“My life has been dedicated to the teaching of self-esteem,” says Hatch, founder of La Belle Modeling Agency (1963-1991), and now executive director of the La Belle Foundation, which offers young women free training in self-esteem, self-development and personal and social responsibility.”

“Giving to the community is just a pleasure; it’s a demonstration of our gratitude and our love for everybody here.”

Shirley Ann Hurley
Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, Family Service Agency, Santa Barbara Public Education Foundation, CALM, Anti-Defamation League, Santa Barbara Foundation

“The things I’ve wanted to spend my time on are the things that help children and young people become the best that they can be, which means to live up to their full potential … The organization that I have probably put the most years into and time is the Family Service Agency. The concept that we could intervene early in a child’s life and with that child’s family and help them raise a more secure child was what hooked me.”

“People keep saying what do you do for fun. I said everything. All of this is fun. And it is. It’s work, but it’s fun. There’s nothing I like better than working with a group of deeply caring people. It is so exciting. And the fact that you know that together you can make a difference in somebody’s lives and your community is just such a reward.”

Gerd Jordano
Cottage Hospital Building Campaign, Westmont College Foundation, CALM

“Board members are ambassadors for those organizations. They are sort of cheerleaders and are able to sort of talk and share what that organization is and what it’s all about. It’s really an opportunity to educate people about that organization and that gives me great joy to share my passion and my knowledge about that particular organization.”

“I’m a former cheerleader so I continue that same passion, only I’m just not jumping up and down anymore (laughs). But I do get very passionate about what I get involved with and it just brings me a lot of joy.”

Carol Palladini
Santa Barbara Women’s Fund

“The concept of the Santa Barbara Women’s Fund (which will have given away more than $1 million by the end of the year) is making your time and money most effectively used by a lot of women writing checks and putting them together and doing direct fundraising, so that you’re not spending a lot of money to make money… Our umbrella is giving in support of the greater Santa Barbara area; it has to be local, to benefit unmet needs for women, children and families.”

“A lot of the work that I’ve done in the past, on and off boards, has some Heartache mixed in with the joy of it. This has been a pleasure from the beginning.”

Joanne Rapp
Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation, CALM, Cottage Hospital, Botanic Gardens, Laguna Cottages, Montecito Community Foundation

“I have enjoyed working with organizations that are targeted at helping youth with their educational goals, in particular the Scholarship Foundation and the Santa Barbara Foundation student loan program. Everything that you work on and within the nonprofit community enhances the quality of life and the effectiveness of our community, but helping the students transfers anywhere. … It will strengthen the fabric of whatever community that they land in.”

The Next Generation

Tiffany Foster
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, Howard School, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Lotusland, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families

“When I arrived in Santa Barbara four years ago … it seemed that every fabulous, intelligent person I met was volunteering for either Storyteller or Lotusland. Before I knew it I was in the center of a vibrant group of caring women and men who dedicated their energy, financial resources, and business acumen to help make a difference in our local community.”

“Storyteller Children’s Center provides daycare and preschool to homeless toddlers in Santa Barbara as well as support services for their families. Young children deserve security, safety and a stable environment. … It is difficult to find a more worthy cause.”

Kisa Heyer
Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, Crane Country Day School, Storyteller, Lobero Theatre, Sarah House, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, CAMA

“Even after being involved with Lotusland for so long, I’m still amazed by it–not only with its collections, design, architecture, and programs–but also with the story behind the garden. Madame Ganna Walska’s wonderland is such a benefit to our community. It’s magical to see joy that children (all 4th graders visit) and adults express after visiting the garden, and no surprise, really, that we are becoming world-renowned as a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Jill Levinson
Lotusland, Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of SB, Storyteller, New Beginnings Counseling Center, Lobero Theatre, All Saints by the Sea Parish School, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families.

“I think everyone has a need for hospice care for themselves or their loved ones at some point in their life. I just feel like it’s very important to support these organizations because they’re necessary. If they disappeared that would be a travesty for our community. Our community is so fortunate to have so much to offer everyone. I think that’s part of what’s really special about Santa Barbara, it tries to take care of people.”

Laura Shelburne
Storyteller, Crane Country Day School, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Stanford University, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

“Winston Churchill once said, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ I spent a number of years practicing corporate law, working around the clock during the Silicon Valley boom, and I always regretted that I didn’t have enough time to do worthwhile pro bono work. While I was one of those oxymoronic happy lawyers, I have to say that now it is wonderful to be able to choose my own “clients” based on causes I believe in and use my skills and experience to help non-profits. I also feel strongly that I should set an example for my children by doing things for others and for institutions that will outlast us and continue to benefit future generations.

Lisa Wolf
Santa Barbara Ballet, CAMA, Storyteller, Lotusland, Santa Barbara Zoo, Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara Museum of Art SMART Families, French Heritage Society, Laguna Blanca

“We started a group at the art museum because we had a feeling that the art museum was reaching out really effectively to kids in town, elementary school students and underprivileged kids and it was also a great resource for very very serious art collectors, but there was nothing in the middle. … So we created this group called SMART families (and it’s Santa Barbara Museum of Art, not that we think we’re especially bright) but a really wonderful group.”

“When you know that you’ve helped make it possible for somebody to attend a program or for somebody to be exposed to opera or some great cultural moment, or to just alleviate human suffering, it’s a great privilege to be able to do it.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine, 2007

Treat Your Children Well

© Kornilovdream | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Kornilovdream | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

A Look at Some of the Nonprofits Serving Children

What could be a more universal cause than striving to give children a brighter tomorrow and a more fulfilling future? Literally hundreds of opportunities exist to give back to children in the community. Unfortunately, we can’t include them all. Here’s a look at just a few of the many organizations working to on behalf of children’s issues and the solutions to their problems in the areas of at-risk youth; education; arts; and medical, emotional and physical health and safety.

Family Service Agency is Santa Barbara County’s first and oldest non-profit human service agency, offering several programs, including Healthy Start, which connects at-risk families with existing community resources; the Family Build Project, which addresses the needs of families living in government subsidized housing; and a variety of counseling and child guidance programs.

Another veteran organization offering a variety of services to at-risk children and others is the United Boys and Girls Clubs. It has been working with young people in town since 1945, and now has four clubhouses that offer day care, summer camps, and a plethora of programs including sports, art, academics and leadership development. While the organization once emphasized servicing children from disadvantaged backgrounds, “today we’re open to everyone, because all children are at risk,” says Executive Director Sal Rodriguez.

Also serving both at-risk youth and the wider community is the Police Activity League (PAL), which offers opportunities for instruction in art, digital editing, hip hop dance, martial arts, and basketball, as well as a tutoring center and a teen youth leadership council that are open to all children. PAL also has a Campership Alliance Program that collaborates with a number of organizations–including the City of Santa Barbara Parks & Recreation Department, United Boys & Girls Clubs, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara YMCA, Santa Barbara Zoo, Refugio Junior Lifeguard Program, Elings Park Camps and Money Camp for Kids –to provide summer camp scholarships.

Endowment for Youth Committee is another broad-reaching organization, which provides a wide variety of educational, social, cultural and recreational achievement programs for children, with a special emphasis on assisting African American, Native American and Latino youth.

Girls Inc. also offers an expansive array of programs, but with an all-girl atmosphere that emphasizes learning to resist gender stereotypes and encouraging girls to take risks, acquire skills, gain confidence, become self-reliant, and practice leadership. Girls are also front and center for Affirm, another program that works only with girls, in this case focusing on empowerment, education, and identity for teenagers that are in the juvenile correction system.

Kids in trouble are also the focus for Noah’s Anchorage, operated by the YMCA. The group provides a Youth Crisis Shelter, which is the only program in Santa Barbara County that offers year-round 24-hour access to counseling, shelter, referrals, food and clothing for runaways, homeless youth and youth in crisis.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program, run by Family Service Agency, also targets at risk youth, matching them up with adult mentors who provide positive role models and a one-on-one relationship. Another mentorship-based program is the Wilderness Youth Project, which offers after school, weekend and summer programs that utilize “nature-based mentoring,” where being out in nature facilitates crucial life lessons and connection with the natural world.

Working on the health and wellness front is CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation), which acts to prevent child abuse from occurring and offers professional treatment for the entire family when abuse does occur. CALM works closely with police, the district attorney, child protective services and medical personnel to investigate alleged abuse in a supportive and child-friendly fashion.

The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation is another organization that works with entire families, endeavoring to ensure that children with cancer receive the undivided comfort of their parents during the treatment and recovery process. Teddy Bear provides financial aid for rent, mortgage, utilities, and car payments, as well as other supportive services, thereby allowing families to focus on their children. “Teddy Bear is unique in that it adapts to each family’s distinct needs. We don’t provide just one service–we do whatever’s needed to help,” said Founder/Executive Director Nikki Katz.

On the education front, the Children’s Project is focused on developing an innovative boarding school and college preparatory academy for foster children and selected youth with mental health or delinquency issues. “People often ask me, ‘Why foster children? So many kids need help.’ While that is true, there is one big difference that separates foster youth from others in need. That is that we not only have a moral obligation to help them…we have a legal obligation. …The moment the judge removes the child from a parent’s care, WE become the parents to that child. We, as the community, step into that role. And I am convinced we can do a better job,” says Founder and CEO Wendy Read.

Another education nonprofit, the Computers for Families program, seeks to eliminate the negative consequences of the Digital Divide by providing students from low-income families with refurbished computers, Internet access and training. Thanks to this innovative program, Santa Barbara will be the first community in the United States to ensure that every child from a low-income family, beginning in the fourth grade, has a computer with Internet access.

For more than 43 years, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara has helped local students pay for their higher education, giving out more than $7 million in student aid for the last school year.

Emphasizing the arts is Art Walk for Kids, an outreach program that focuses on benefiting special needs, developmentally disabled, at risk, terminally ill youth and adults in their positive environments through a specialized curriculum of art and vocational education. Art Walk projects have benefited a diverse group of nonprofits, including the United Nations, Summit for Danny, United Way, the Red Cross, Sarah House, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Lobero Theatre, I Madonnari, the Multi-Cultural Dance and Music Festival, Vieja Valley School, Santa Barbara County Juvenile Hall, El Puente School, and Hillside House, among others. Its latest collaboration is with the Patricia Henley Foundation, a new nonprofit that offers unique, free opportunities for students to learn all aspects of theatre arts production and develop their creative talents.

The Family Therapy Institute’s Academy of Healing Arts for Teens (AHA!) also incorporates creative expression into its programs, which emphasize the development of character, imagination, emotional intelligence, and social conscience in teenagers, and helps them learn to set goals, stop bullying and hatred, support their peers, and serve their community.

These excellent organizations are but a small percentage of all of the nonprofits serving children in Santa Barbara. For a more comprehensive list visit the Family Service Agency referral service at www.211sbcounty.org/.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine

Zoo campers to dive into ocean, water exploration

Santa Barbara Zoo Train, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Santa Barbara Zoo Train, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Summer visitors to the Santa Barbara Zoo will look beyond the East Beach view to the vast world of the ocean, as two full years of activities begin to educate the public about the “Wonders of Water.”

“The populace of the United States is uneducated about the issues concerning water,” said Nancy H. McToldridge, the zoo’s chief operating officer. She is hoping to help change that by weaving water messages into all of the zoo’s events, promotions and educational programs, starting with zoo camp, which began its first session this week.

“Summer camp, that’s where it all starts. … It’s the most incredible program we have and the most important contribution that we make to the community,” said McToldridge.

“Anybody who works in a zoo or an aquarium or … in … conservation or anything that has to do with animals and wild places can trace their love of that back to some experience they had when they were very young.”

Education curator Heather Johnson, who began volunteering in 1986 as a junior zookeeper while attending Dos Pueblos High, is also bringing water awareness into the camp curriculum and school programs.

Wildlife Academy campers (sixth-seventh grade) will be able to have three full weeks of aquatic biology.

“That’s a special thing for us because the Wildlife Academy students are at a point in their lives where they are really exploring careers in science,” she said. “So they’re going to be taking field trips to the beach, they’re going to be actually doing a lot of things with the bird refuge, they’ll be taking water quality tests from all of our water habitats here at the zoo and they will be talking with our professionals … to find out how we ensure that there’s healthy habitats.”

Campers will also learn about native aquatic animals by conducting a census on East Beach.

This age group is fantastic to work with, Johnson said.

“They are starting to get very much into Animal Planet and Discovery Channel and choosing what they might want to pursue as career paths. … We’re hoping that we might inspire them to take some more science and math.”

Younger campers will also experience the wonders of water. First- and second-grade students will be talking about oceans and watery habitats, while Zoo Cadets (third through fifth grade) will learn about “what kind of animals need to live in the deep, deep, deep waters, the funky creatures that live down there in the dark, the ones that are almost see-through and have those funny characteristics that have like lights on their heads and things like that,” Johnson said.

Energy was high as the camp’s counselors finished up their training last week.

“You have an incredible opportunity with these 3-year-old, 4-year-old, 10-year-old minds that are wide open and you have the opportunity to be the person that makes a difference in that person’s life,” McToldridge told her charges.

“You may never know what you’ve done. … That a half-hour that you spent with one child may lead to an incredible discovery that will save animals and save people.”

Space is still available at the Santa Barbara Zoo’s camp for children aged 3 to entering seventh grade. Sessions run through Aug. 19, with camp hours from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and extended care from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Cost is $157 per week for camp and $225 per week with extended hours, with discounts for zoo members. For more information visit www.sbzoo.org or call 962-5339.

Ocean Education:

Everyday choices have an impact on the ocean and its many inhabitants. Here are some simple ways that families can help, from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

• Participate in beach and stream cleanups.

• Put trash in its proper place.

• Plant native plants.

• Make smart seafood choices. For a free guide, visit www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp.

• Reduce oil use and limit run-off.

• Save water and electricity.

• Be pet smart. Ask your pet store for MAC (Marine Aquarium Council)-certified fish and be sure to scoop up pet poop.

• Don’t leave fishing lines behind.

• Follow boating laws to prevent problems for wildlife.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon on June 23, 2005.