Eat For Good: The 805 Living Dishing It Out for Charity Challenge

Take part in a delicious opportunity to help support worthy causes

It’s been quite a year, and the fact that 2020 is drawing to a close seems like reason enough to celebrate by dining at local restaurants in support of some worthy causes.
This issue marks the fifth 805 Living Dishing It Out for Charity challenge, and a great selection of eateries in the region have agreed to participate once again this year.

Each participant has selected a favorite dish or created a special new one for the challenge, and for each and every one sold during the months of November and December, they have pledged to donate $2 to the charity of their choosing. Last year’s challenge raised more than $17,300 for 22 deserving nonprofits. Generous local restaurants have stepped up to the plate once again, even during this unprecedented time when restaurants themselves need support just like the charities they’re supporting.

This spirit of giving is so heartwarming, we hope that you too will be inspired to participate by dining at these community-minded venues.

This year, Acme Hospitality’s (acmehospitality.com) Funk Zone restaurants, Helena Avenue Bakery, The Lark, Loquita, and Lucky Penny have all chosen to support Know Your Rights Camp (knowyourrightscamp.com). “Acme Hospitality’s company ethos is greatly aligned with Know Your Rights Camp,” says spokesman Willie Simpson, adding “the equality and well-being of all employees is what builds a strong business and community. We know there is still much more work to be done in the fight for civil rights and equality for all Americans. We acknowledge our responsibility to be part of the solution. Know Your Rights Camp elevates a new generation of Black and Brown change leaders through education, self-empowerment and mobilization.” Details about the individual restaurants’ involvement follow.

Helena Avenue Bakery
SANTA BARBARA
helenaavenuebakery.com
Chef Isaac Hernandez’s Carpinteria Avocado on Sourdough Toast layers fresh local avocado, Persian cucumber, sunflower seeds, French feta, and sprouts on a toasted slice of Helena Avenue Bakery’s fresh sourdough bread; diners can further elevate the dish with a poached egg. Bakery manager Wyatt Davidson hopes the popular take on avocado toast will be a great selection to boost their donation.

The Lark
SANTA BARBARA
thelarksb.com
Executive chef Jason Paluska’s Hand-Cut Tagliatelle Pasta, made with grilled sweet corn, sungold cherry tomatoes, garlic, serrano chile, shaved bottarga, preserved lemon, and Old Bay–seasoned breadcrumbs, is a hearty fall favorite at The Lark. The popularity of this locally sourced, handmade pasta plate makes it a promising candidate for the charity challenge.

Loquita
SANTA BARBARA
loquitasb.com
For this year’s challenge, Loquita picked executive chef Nikolas Ramirez’s signature Mariscos Paella, featuring locally sourced fish, scallops, octopus, sobrasada (cured
pork sausage), manila clams, squid ink sofrito (a Spanish sauce made from onion, green pepper, and garlic), yuzu, and salmon roe. It was manager Stephanie Perkins who
brought Know Your Rights Camp to Acme’s attention. “I believe it is crucial for the younger generation to know their rights, to truly understand who they are, and to learn they have
the power to change future generations for the better,” she says.

Lucky Penny
SANTA BARBARA
luckypennysb.com
Chef Dante Bogan chose the Margherita Pizza for this year’s challenge, knowing its popularity among patrons getting takeout and eating on Lucky Penny’s new extended patio. A classic that appeals to many diners, including vegetarians, the wood-fired pizza is topped with San Marzano marinara, burrata, cherry tomatoes, and opal basil.

Bell’s
LOS ALAMOS
bellsrestaurant.com
At Bell’s, where the menu is “Franch-inspired” (borrowing from both French and ranch-style cuisines), chef Daisy Ryan’s Egg Salad Sandwich is an iconic selection. “We feel something as simple and satisfying as an egg salad sandwich really speaks to our collaboration with No Kid Hungry (nokidhungry.org), whose mission is to end hunger and poverty,” says Ryan, co-owner of the restaurant with her husband, Gregory Ryan.

Belmond El Encanto
SANTA BARBARA
belmond.com
“While our doors were closed to the public due to the global pandemic, we partnered
with Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade (sbbucketbrigade.org) to make and provide masks for those in need, and we were able to provide hundreds of handmade masks,” says Belmond Encanto spokeswoman Julia Solomon. “We look forward to supporting them in their future endeavors.” To that end, the restaurant chose sous chef Carlos Ramirez’s Seared Wild King Salmon, caught fresh and prepared with herbs, spices, summer squash, shallot confit, and tomato jus, as its featured menu item to benefit the community crisis–response organization.


Bibi Ji
SANTA BARBARA
bibijisb.com
“As a Latino business owner, I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to La Casa de la Raza
(lacasadelaraza.org), an organization that helps educate Latino youth about their culture and build community,” says Bibi Ji co-owner Alejandro Medina. “I am hopeful that one day any of these kids may own a local business themselves and be able to do the same.” The restaurant’s designated dish is Chicken Tikka, which Medina’s business partner Rajat Parr grew up eating at his home in Kolkata, India.

Cello Ristorante & Bar
PASO ROBLES
allegrettoresort.com
Chef de cuisine Ben Drahos opted for Cello’s Certified Black Angus Filet. The oak pit–grilled steak is served in a red wine demi-glace with horseradish mascarpone and seasonal vegetables. The dish will benefit the nonprofit Bailliage de Central Coast Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs (centralcoast.chaineus.org). Currently overseen by Allegretto Vineyard Resort food and beverage manager Thomas Humphrey, the organization supports the development of young chefs and recently raised money for the culinary program at San Luis Obispo’s Cuesta College.

Chulo’s Cafe & Cantina
TEMPLETON
chuloscafecantina.com
“The Huevos Rancheros is our signature dish,” says Chulo’s executive chef Luis Ruiz. It “speaks to our Mexican heritage, and we love sharing our delicious culture with our patrons.” The menu item will support the anti-racism organization R.A.C.E. Matters SLO (racemattersslo.org). “We are so grateful to have a local charity on the ground here in SLO doing the work and fighting the fight for equality and justice for people of all colors, religions, histories, and sexual orientations,” he says. “We love to support them in any way we can.”

Finney’s Crafthouse
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, VENTURA,
SANTA BARBARA, SAN LUIS OBISPO
finneyscrafthouse.com
“My family has supported this amazing charity Support for the Kids (supportforthekids.org) for many years,” says Finney’s owner Greg Finefrock. Dedicated to providing educational enrichment and comprehensive services to underprivileged and foster children and their families in Ventura County, the organization provides essentials like food, clothing, and school supplies. For this year’s challenge, Finefrock has selected a new menu item: executive chef Eric Bosrau’s Bison Burger, made with bison sourced from Flocchini Family Ranch in Wyoming.

Goat Tree at Hotel Californian
SANTA BARBARA
goattreecafe.com
“In the wake of the current pandemic, it has become more important than ever to feature whole-animal butchery,” says Goat Tree executive chef Travis Watson. “The Braised Oxtail Tagliatelle features an often-overlooked cut of beef in a dish that nurtures the soul as we welcome the cooler seasons.” The pasta entrée is earmarked to support the Dream Foundation (dreamfoundation.org), which helps realize the dreams of terminally ill adults
and provides emotional support to them and their families.

Lido Restaurant & Lounge
PISMO BEACH
thedolphinbay.com
Lido’s picked Crab Cakes, a favorite starter among locals. “Being nestled along the Central Coast and having the privilege to sit and watch the sunset while dining on these tasty morsels is the perfect recipe for a truly breathtaking experience,” says spokeswoman Christina Stieb. “That wouldn’t be possible without our beautiful Pacific Ocean. That’s why we chose the Ocean Conservancy (oceanconservancy.org) as our charity, to protect and conserve the very thing that gives us the main ingredients of the dish and many others.”

Little Calf Creamery
THOUSAND OAKS/WESTLAKE VILLAGE
littlecalfcreamery.com
“We are creating unique spins on a frozen dessert classic just in time for the holidays,” says Little Calf Creamery owner Scott Levin, whose two new treats will support Special Olympics Ventura (sosc.org/ventura), an organization that enriches the lives of nearly 600 athletes who have intellectual disabilities. For the November Mud Pie, a graham cracker crust is filled with Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream topped with an oatmeal crumble. For the December Mud Pie, an Oreo cookie crust is loaded with peppermint-stick ice cream
sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy.


Los Agaves Restaurant
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, OXNARD, GOLETA, SANTA BARBARA
los-agaves.com
Los Agaves Restaurant’s Land & Sea Molcajete, a hearty stew with steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, pork, and grilled nopal, is the ultimate Mexican comfort food and a cult favorite, especially during the cold season. “We serve you so we can be of service to others,” says owner Carlos Luna. “For every dish sold, Los Agaves will donate $2 to the Santa Barbara Zoo (sbzoo.org) to support and sustain a beloved community treasure that educates so many children, families, and visitors in the region.”

Milk & Honey Tapas
SANTA BARBARA
milknhoneytapas.com
“Burrata is always in season at Milk & Honey, so this is our nod to the cheese we love so much and the earthy flavors of fall,” says chef-owner Alvaro Rojas of the Falling For Burrata plate he designated to support the Organic Soup Kitchen (organicsoupkitchen.org), which produces and delivers soup meals to the elderly and
low-income cancer patients. “ ‘Take your food as your medicine or your medicine will
be your food,’ is a quote that resonates with me, given that my father, grandmother,
and uncle all died of cancer,” says Rojas, who admires the nonprofit’s nutritional
approach to treatment.

Oku Restaurant
SANTA BARBARA
okusantabarbara.com
Oku executive chef Koji Nomura happily created a new dish for this year’s 805 Living
challenge to support the work of CADA (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; cadasb.org), which provides addiction prevention, education, and treatment services to teens and adults in Santa Barbara County. The 805CADA Roll is as delicious as it is beautiful, says co-owner Tina Takaya. Featuring fresh wild-caught salmon, crispy shrimp tempura, avocado, and cucumber, and a sauce made from fresh shiso leaf, miso, and yuzo, the roll is finished with flying fish roe and served with a side of sriracha aioli. “We enjoyed creating a special sushi roll for an amazing cause,” Takaya says.

Olio Pizzeria
SANTA BARBARA
oliopizzeria.com
“Our Umbra pizza is a signature favorite,” says Alberto Morello, executive chef and co- owner of Olio Pizzeria. “You may need to order an entire pizza just for yourself, it’s so addictive.” Morello selected the dish, which showcases Umbrian black truffles, to support
Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation (teddybearcancerfoundation.org), an organization that provides financial, educational, and emotional support to Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San
Luis Obispo county families with a child who has cancer.

Opal Restaurant & Bar
SANTA BARBARA
opalrestaurantandbar.com
Since they opened Opal Restaurant & Bar 20 years ago, owners Tina Takaya and Richard Yates have been deeply committed to supporting the Arthritis Foundation (arthritis.org) by
participating in and often chairing its Taste of the Town fundraiser, Santa Barbara’s oldest wine and food event. That event could not be held this year, but Takaya and Yates offer their continuing support to the organization that provides assistance to people living with the disabling disorder by taking part in the 805 Living challenge with a riff on a local Opal favorite, the Chicken & Wild Mushroom Chipotle Pasta Charity Special.


Pico Restaurant
LOS ALAMOS
losalamosgeneralstore.com
Earmarking Pico’s donation to the Save the Waves Coalition (savethewaves.org), a nonprofit founded by the restaurant’s co-owner Will Henry to protect surf ecosystems across the globe, executive chef John Wayne Formica designates his Crispy Viet Brussels, made with garden herbs, carrot, red onion, chilis, fried shallot, and coconut-chili-lime agrodolce (sweet-and-sour sauce). The starter manifests the chef’s desire to share his experiences while traveling.

Santo Mezcal
SANTA BARBARA
santomezcalsb.com
Santo Mezcal executive chef Ricardo Garcia picked Enchiladas Verde—two chicken or beef enchiladas topped with special house-made verde sauce and served with rice and pinto beans—to support the Santa Barbara Zoo (sbzoo.org). A cause that’s close to
owner Carlos Luna’s heart, the zoo relies on donations to provide the best possible care for its resident animals and to impart conservation education.

Vina Robles Vineyard & Winery
PASO ROBLES
vinarobles.com/visit/bistro
“Our communities rely now more than ever on the support of food banks for access to wholesome nutrition,” says spokeswoman Catherine Jaeger. “Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery supports the SLO Food Bank (slofoodbank.org) to raise awareness as it works to meet the increased demand in our communities.” Served at the winery’s alfresco bistro, the Vina Robles Burger—made with grass-fed beef and topped with roasted portabella
mushrooms, garlic aioli, arugula, and red onions sautéed in a rosemary-infused reduction of Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon and balsamic vinaigrette—is the dish designated for the challenge.

Water’s Edge Restaurant & Bar
VENTURA
watersedgeventura.com
“It’s an ode to our local strawberries,” says Water’s Edge executive chef Alex Montoya of his Straw-Brie Crostini, which he says has “bright and light flavors, each with a different texture for you to enjoy in every bite.” The starter will support Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties (tri-counties.wish.org), because he says, “being able to make a child’s wish come true or to even be a part of that process has always been a dream of mine.”

Wood Ranch
AGOURA HILLS, MOORPARK, CAMARILLO, VENTURA
woodranch.com
The rich, decadent WR Butter Cake is a proven favorite at Wood Ranch. Served with vanilla bean ice cream, fresh raspberries, and raspberry sauce, “it’s popular beyond all our expectations,” says director of culinary development Alejandro Benes. The dessert will benefit Happy Trails Children’s Foundation (happytrails.org), a nonprofit whose mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of child abuse and provide fun activities and support for foster children.

To see more 805 Living Dishing It Out For Charity challenge chefs and dishes, visit 805living.com.

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

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.