Education 101

Are Santa Barbara Schools Making the Grade?

Education 101, story from Santa Barbara Magazine

Education 101, from Santa Barbara Magazine

Education 101, from Santa Barbara Magazine

For better or worse, the days when parents would simply whisk their children off to the nearest school are long gone. Discussions of “where are you sending your child?” dominate local parks, pediatrician’s offices and preschool playgrounds. While there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to education, luckily we have lots of options in Santa Barbara. In general, our schools are getting better too–a concerted effort is underway to narrow the achievement gap between middle- to upper-class and low-income students. “Our schools are improving,” according to experts including longtime local educator Gerrie Fausett, the current superintendent of the Hope School District and former principal of Santa Barbara Junior High and Washington Elementary School on the Mesa. She says that schools are “doing a better job educating our students, and have particularly improved in their work with students that are not meeting academic expectations. The improvements and the dedication to making sure that kids are learning what they need to learn are moving forward.” Continue reading

History in the Making

Boehm Family Photo by V. Smith, courtesy Boehm Group

Boehm Family Photo by V. Smith, courtesy Boehm Group

Eric Boehm & Family

Honoring the past while looking toward the future has been a recurring theme throughout the 92 years of Eric Boehm’s life and his most recent venture, Boehm Biography Group, brings together three generations of his own family-son Steven, 49, and grandson Jeff, 25-to help others preserve their heritage and create meaningful legacies.

Boehm’s brush with history began just before World War II in 1934, when his German-Jewish parents’ prescient concerns about their son’s future stirred them to ship 16-year-old Eric from Hof, Germany, to live with his aunt and uncle in Youngstown, Ohio. “If you have to leave home, my suggestion is the time to leave is when you’re 16 years old, because you are young enough to adapt and old enough to be looking for adventure,” twinkles Eric, as he recalls his early life in America.

By the time his parents and brother had escaped Germany in 1941, Eric had received a B.A. from the College of Wooster and was working on his M.A. from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Those diplomatic skills came into play almost immediately, when he served a critical role in helping dissolve the Supreme Command of the Luftwaffe in Germany at the end of World War II. In a life with many high points, this experience stands out as one of the most significant, says Eric, whose work as an intelligence officer and interrogator is detailed in a new book, The Enemy I Knew (Zenith Press, 2009) by Steven Karras.

After leaving the military, Eric continued to work for the U.S. government in Germany as part of the press scrutiny board, reviewing German newspapers to glean information. While there, he met his wife, Inge Pauli. His cocker spaniel puppy played matchmaker for the couple. ” I took him to work with me every once in a while and he would disappear. He kept going upstairs looking and seeing if Fraulein Pauli was there,” laughs Eric. “She had been feeding him.”

The couple married in a double wedding ceremony with Eric’s brother and sister-in-law in Blake Wood, Illinois in 1948 and worked together until Inge died a decade ago. They had four children: two girls that died as children and two sons, Ronald and Steven, who live in Santa Barbara. If not for an encounter with anti-Semitism from a chemical company, Eric might have become a chemist rather than a historian. He was shattered after losing a job he thought was a sure thing. His history professor pulled some strings, and, unbeknownst to Eric at the time, created a job for him at the University of Massachusetts. While completing his doctoral studies at Yale, Eric published a collection of personal accounts of survival in Nazi Germany.

This passion for preserving knowledge led Eric and Inge to found historical bibliography company ABC-CLIO in 1955. The family and the company moved to Santa Barbara in 1960, soon after they spotted the while town en route to Los Angeles for a vacation. “We said you know, this is a nice place. On our way back let’s stop,” says Eric. “Then we took a hotel room by the beach … and one night here turned into two nights and three nights and four nights and while we were here we looked at houses.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Son Ronald now runs what has grown to become an international academic publishing enterprise.

About five years ago, the family founded Boehm Group. “At 87, I was too young to retire, but I was too old to spell bibliography, so I spelled biography,” smiles Eric, who credits his health and longevity mostly to good genetics. “My father died at 98, and I had a great grandfather who died at 98. The name of one of my ancestors is Liverecht, which translates to ‘live right,’-that’s what I try to do.”

In addition to producing individuals’ biographies to preserve family stories and institutional biographies, such as an upcoming coffee table book commemorating the 100th anniversary of Santa Barbara City College, Boehm Group plans to develop an online program that will offer college degrees in biography, explains Jeff, who is responsible for the technical project management.

“I see huge potential and it’s in the family business-plus I get to spend time with my grandfather and my father,” says Jeff, who affectionately calls his “Opa” (German for grandpa) Eric only when they’re in work mode. “I thought that I’d want to spend time doing something on my own, but this is something exciting that they’re starting new and I’m creating it with them.”

“The idea of working together, making it a family enterprise had meaning to me that I enjoyed,” says Eric. “What greater thing could you have than having a grandfather working with his son and grandson? It’s a real joy.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine In Spring 2010.

Giving Back: The Hutton Foundation

logo_hpOne of the biggest obstacles facing local nonprofits is the high price of real estate in Santa Barbara. Luckily Hutton Foundation is helping to fill that gap.

One of Hutton Foundation’s most significant efforts is its Under One Roof program, through which more than 30 local nonprofit organizations are housed in 12 Hutton Foundation-owned and managed properties. “One of the things local nonprofits struggled with the most was finding high-quality, affordable office space,” explains Pam Hamlin, the foundation’s executive director. Hutton Foundation rents the buildings to nonprofits at far below market rates and signs 10-year leases to help give organizations financial stability.

The organizations sharing space run the gamut, from Community Environmental Council to Santa Barbara International Film Festival, United Girls & Boys Club, Alzheimer’s Association and Camerata Pacifica, to name just a few.

The foundation’s broad areas of interest are a reflection of its president, Tom Parker, a Santa Barbara native who returned to town 12 years ago to start the Hutton Foundation, after serving as president of Hutton Companies-one of Southern California’s leading real estate developers-from 1985 to 1995.

“It’s my fault,” says Parker, with a twinkle in his eye. “What happened to me was I was doing grants and I thought, Here’s the homeless shelter, there’s someone who is hungry that needs help, here is an arts organization that is opening children’s minds to music and art and things that will make their life so much better. Who do I donate to? How do I value the two? I realized I couldn’t.”

Consequently, last year Hutton Foundation gave away $4.4 million in grants, donations and assistance to more than 100 local nonprofit organizations.

“We want to be in this community to help the process, to help nonprofits be more effective no matter what their mission-so long as it’s a mission that makes sense,” Parker says.

One thing that made sense, not just to Hutton Foundation but also to the Orfalea and Bower Foundations, was grouping services together to help children arrive in kindergarten better prepared to learn. The three groups are collaborating on an early childhood education and family resource center in Carpinteria. Opening in January at the former site of Main Elementary School, with a Community Action Commission/Head Start preschool at its core, this project represents the next evolution of Hutton Foundation. The foundation also recently made a deal to purchase the former Washington Mutual Bank building in downtown Santa Barbara, and is now evaluating which type of collaborative center will best serve the community.

Parker expected he would be semi-retired when he started Hutton Foundation, but he admits that when a great opportunity comes along he just can’t help himself. “The nonprofit sector intrigues me because there’s so much to be done,” he says. “You can really make a difference in this community.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine

The “W’s” of Working Out



The symphony of treadmills and weight machines always gets a little louder this time of year-whether it’s a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, a few too many latkes or too much eggnog, or the gift of a gym membership-getting fit is one of the most popular goals at the start of each year. Here are some options to suit every workout style.

Who: The Gym Rat

What: Santa Barbara Athletic Club has awesome equipment and a vast variety of workout options, including Pilates, Spinning, indoor and outdoor weight rooms, swimming, squash and racquetball.

When: Monday – Thursday: 5:00 am – 10:30 pm; Friday: 5:00 am – 10:00 pm; Saturday: 6:00 am – 8:00 pm and Sunday: 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.

Where: 520 Castillo Street.

Wear: For a guilt-free, post workout treat, head to the new supplement/protein bar at Montecito Athletic Club (40 Los Patos Way, Montecito).

Who: The Mom

What: Enlist with “General” Stacey Cooper on a BootyCampSB mission to “raise your fitness level and your booty to new heights.”

When: Kids work out for free at the Parent-Child Booty Camp every Monday from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Where: Girsh Park, 7050 Phelps Road, Goleta.

Wear: Head to Eddie Bauer (130 S. Hope Ave., La Cumbre Plaza) for the “essential daypack bottle” loaded with all the gear you’ll need to survive a day with the kids.

Who: The Beach Babe

What: Try Moms in Motion’s Stand Up Paddle Board team for “the most fun you can have on the water-while improving your balance, upper body and core strength.”

When: Sundays at 8 a.m.

Where: Leadbetter Beach, Shoreline Drive and Loma Alta.

Wear: You can rent equipment or splurge on a Kialoa -Nalu Stand Up Surf Paddle from Paddle Sports of Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara Harbor).

Who: The Couch Potato

What: Try a Jazz Dance or Hip Hop Class at Santa Barbara Dance Arts (formerly Santa Barbara Jazz Dance Academy). You’ll have so much fun you won’t even realize you’re working out till the pounds start sweating off.

When: Jazz Mondays at 6:45 p.m.; Beginning/Intermediate Hip Hop Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; Advanced Hip Hop Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Where: 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez #100.

Wear: Pick up your dancing shoes at Harlequin’s Theatrical Supply (17 W. Gutierrez St.).

Who: The Yogini

What: Yoga Soup has a fun variety of classes, with owner Eddie Ellner’s good karma philosophy of “pay what you can,” for his eclectic “soupy mix” of classes.

When: Tuesdays at 5 p.m.; Tuesdays; Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.; and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Where: 28 Parker Way.

Wear: Head to Drishti (130 E. Canon Perdido St.) for a Manduka eKO eco-friendly yoga mat and a comfy pair of their “Beyond Yoga” pants or capris that are so stylish you’ll want to wear them all day long.

Who: The Jock

What: At Dr. Bob Wilcher’s Killer B Fitness, this Chiropractor/Personal Trainer will whip-we mean motivate-you into shape whether your goal is to run a marathon or sweat off a few sizes in his few frills, no mercy private gym.

When: By appointment, call 805-448-2222 for information.

Where: 126 Powers Ave.

Wear: Lucy (3825 State St., La Cumbre Plaza) offers a new “core power collection” of tops stay soft, comfortable and dry, no matter how much you sweat.

Who: The Hiker

What: The Santa Barbara Sierra Club offers a variety of hikes for every fitness level from the occasional hiker to the diehard backpackers.

When: Hikers meet weekly on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. and Friday nights at 6:15 p.m., destination are chosen at the meeting points.

Where: Santa Barbara Mission, Laguna and Los Olivos Streets. Also visit for additional hikes scheduled every weekend from a variety of locations and terrains.

Wear: Head to Santa Barbara Oufitters (1200 State St.) to pick up one of Ex Officio’s “Insect Repellent” hats, which are great for those sunny, buggy hikes on the beach. Plus, rain or shine, you can take a trek up their indoor climbing wall.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine in 2009.

Giving Back: Chuck Slosser

Chuck Slosser (courtesy photo)

Chuck Slosser (courtesy photo)

With the same engaging grin and focused attention that have pried philanthropic purse strings loose since he came to town in 1981, Chuck Slosser says he’s excited to tackle retirement after 18 years as executive director of the Santa Barbara Foundation.

What an amazing ride it has been. When Slosser, now 66 took the helm of the Santa Barbara Foundation–Santa Barbara County’s largest private source of funding for nonprofit programs–it had a staff of three, roughly $30 million in assets, and was giving out a few million in scholarships and grants a year.

Compare that to today’s foundation–under Slosser’s leadership, it now has a staff of 23, more than $300 million in assets, and donates about $27 million each year. He’s justifiably proud, but still ready for a slower pace, saying, “I thoroughly enjoyed the foundation and the work that we’ve done here and the great things that have happened in the community as a result. I’ve never objected to the 9 to 5, but it’s really the 5 to 9.”

Slosser and his wife of almost 38 years, Stephanie, who retired from UC Santa Barbara’s biology department three years ago, plan to travel, play golf and do yoga. He’s also interested in playing more basketball (he’s got a regular game at the Boys and Girls Club), taking Spanish lessons, picking up a guitar and a dissertation that have been collecting dust, and perhaps doing some consulting. He smiles. “I really do feel like a kid in a candy store. I want to do that, and I want to do that, and I can’t wait.”

Clearly, Slosser is a man with many interests, which is why the diverse Santa Barbara Foundation was “a dream job come true.” With an infinite variety of grant recipients–Music Academy of the West, Page Youth Center, Special Olympics, Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, Red Cross, St. Vincent’s, Legal Aid, Transition House, Girls Inc. and Wildlife Care Network, to name a few — the foundation was a perfect place for this Renaissance man.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine in January 2009.



If you mention Dr. Lynne Jahnke’s name to a homeless person, they might not know who you’re talking about. But if you mention her by her street nickname–“Dr. J”–their eyes light up and it’s a whole different story. “Yeah, I know Dr. J,” says Mitch, a Santa Barbaran who sleeps near the train tracks and spends his days at the downtown public library. “She’s cool. She’ll fix you right up with what you need.”

Jahnke–along with social worker Ken Williams and sometimes her assistant, Klea Kalionzes–hits the streets of Santa Barbara twice a week in search of homeless people in need of medical treatment. Often, her base of operations is a Volkswagen van filled with gear and space for “the guys to put their shopping carts if I need to take them to the hospital or the clinic,” she says. Sometimes, she’ll simply strap on a backpack full of medical supplies and cold water and go in search of homeless camps where she can help the sick and injured.

Street medicine is a long road from oncology, Jahnke’s first specialty. After practicing as a cancer specialist for almost ten years in San Francisco and Chicago, she came to town in 2000 to work at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. But two years ago, while in her mid-40s, Jahnke retired from oncology–“rewarding, meaningful work,” she says, “but I just decided I’d had enough oncology.” In a serendipitous turn of events, she met some people who were working with the homeless, and found her new calling. “It’s completely different but it feels great,” she says. “These people really have nothing–they’re so grateful if you give them a Tylenol or a Band-Aid. They can’t believe that a doctor is actually going out on the street and seeing them there.”

Although she loved being a cancer doctor, Jahnke says she continues to work with the homeless “because working in primary care with the homeless reminds me of the open heart and desire to help people that made me want to become a doctor 25 years ago. The patients are so kind and grateful for my care and the many other people who provide services to the homeless are wonderful to work with as well.”

Though she considers herself “retired,” and receives just a small stipend, when she’s not doing street rounds, Jahnke can be found three days a week at the lower eastside Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter clinic, which offers 30 medical beds for patients released from the hospital who are still too ill to go back out on the streets. “I do a lot in coordinating the hospital discharges. I have working relationships with the doctors there,” says Jahnke.

Working with the homeless is a regular reminder to Jahnke of how fortunate she is. “This is why I went to medical school,” she says. “To take care of people who really need it.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine in Fall 2008.

Kids Around Town

Yellow Bird Music

Yellow Bird Music (courtesy photo)

Yellow Bird Music (courtesy photo)

Starting as young as three months, at Yellow Bird Music children up to 12 years old can explore the world in brand new ways through a variety of music, movement and art classes. Musical exploration, art, yoga, piano, choir, drum lessons, and summer camps are available at Yellow Bird. Owner Alexandra Adams-Arreguin combines a Kindermusik-based curriculum–which includes whimsically-titled classes such as “Do-Si-Do” and “Hello Weather, Let’s Play Together”–with innovative additions including performances by local musicians, giving children an up-close and personal opportunity to view musical expression by professionals.

“I just love working with kids,” says Adams-Arreguin. “The effect that music has on a child is one of the most positive and creative methods for them to discover themselves. I truly believe that every child has something to give and a song to share.”

YELLOW BIRD MUSIC 2726 De La Vina Street, Santa Barbara, 805-898-9070,

Arts Alive Creativity Center

Where else in town but Arts Alive Creativity Center can you find a Brownie troop doing ceramics, preschool-age thespians picking our costumes for a play, and teenagers popping their way through a hip-hop class? Arts Alive offers a panoply of creative pursuits for the young and young-at-heart. Past classes have included comic book making, fashion illustration, sewing, photography, drama, fiber art, painting, knitting, digital creations, harmonica lessons, creative clay, and singing.

New owner Laura Eliseo, who took over the space in January with partner Anthony Parisi, says she plans to continue with Arts Alive’s eclectic children’s curriculum and camp program, as well as incorporate new classes such as recycled glass creations and additional dance classes to complement those offered by Santa Barbara Dance Arts (formerly known as Santa Barbara Jazz Dance Academy), which shares the space and offers children’s classes in jazz, ballet, tap, hip-hop and more.

ARTS ALIVE CREATIVITY CENTER 1 North Calle Cesar Chavez, Suite 100, Santa Barbara, 805-963-2ART,

More Great Stuff For Kids

KINDERMUSIK WITH KATHY 1213 State Street, Suite I, Santa Barbara, 805-884-4009,

Kindermusik, the world’s leader in music and movement curricula for parents and children ages newborn to 7 years old, uses research in child development to provide developmentally appropriate music and movement experiences.

MY GYM 3888 State Street, Santa Barbara, 805-563-7336,

An award-winning program designed to help children aged three months thru 13 years develop strength, balance, coordination, flexibility and social skills through music, dance, games, and gymnastics.

BEACH STAR GYMNASTICS 4193 Carpinteria Ave., Suite 7,

Carpinteria, 805-684-9900,

A “recreational” gymnastics facility, focusing on the fun aspects of gymnastics for children from 18 months to 16 years old.

SBPARENT.COM P.O. Box 60135, Santa Barbara, 805-448-2426

An easy-to-access central location for all the information that parents need, including listings and links to camps, activities, childcare, preschool, party planning and more.

SBPEP.ORG P.O. Box 6154, Santa Barbara, 805-564-3888

The nonprofit volunteer-run PEP (Postpartum Education for Parents) offers numerous programs to help parents and families thrive with their new children.

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine in 2008.


Art Luna, courtesy photo

Art Luna, courtesy photo

Designer Art Luna is planting roots in our local soil

Enhancing nature’s gifts is nothing new for Art Luna. Long before he developed a reputation as a top-notch landscape designer, he was known as a swanky celebrity hair stylist–which he still is. But more and more often these days, he’s trading his scissors for gardening shears. His formally structured, yet free-flowing creations are now gracing landscapes on both coasts, including New York City, Los Olivos, Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria.

His passion for gardening began with the creation of an outdoor garden waiting room for his Hollywood salon, then was sparked here during a visit to Lotusland in 2002, with esteemed British gardening book author Anna Pavord. She advised Luna to always remember, “Structure first, flowers second.”

Building the structure first was embedded in his approach as a hair stylist. Suddenly it all clicked for Luna: “Think of it as if you’ve built this beautiful house out of green, and then you furnish it with furniture that is flowers.”

Here, Luna shares his expert take on our local offerings:

Favorite Places

ABE NURSERY3894 Via Real, Carpinteria, 805-684-3335.
Richard Abe has lovely material. He doesn’t let anything leave his nursery that isn’t of good quality. Also, I can buy 70 to 100 of one thing to do mass plantings–that’s really important for me.”

EYE OF THE DAY 4620 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria, 805-566-0778, “They have an amazing eye for pottery and shape. There is always really good statuary, which I think is the dying art of the garden. I think people are a little freaked out about statuary in terms of the garden. … It can be lovely if done right.”

LOTUSLAND GARDEN SHOP 695 Ashley Rd., Montecito, 805-969-3767 ext. 101, “They always have wonderful things there, such as bird feeders for the trees and bird nests for the cages.”

RUE DE LILLIE ANTIQUES 2496 Lillie Ave., Summerland, 805-695-8180, . “I go there for beautiful antique bird cages and unique things like unusual lanterns and mirrors.”

SAN MARCOS GROWERS 125 S. San Marcos Rd., Santa Barbara, 805-683-1561, “I try to buy all of my flowers from local vendors. This one is amazing. It’s all good quality, and they usually have anything that you want.”

TURK HESSELLUND NURSERY 1255 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-969-5871. “If I want to buy a pot with a beautiful plant to put it on the steps of a garden, I know I’ll find something very interesting and lovely here.”

Favorite Plants
African BoxwoodI love the red vein, that it has, how small the leaf shape is, the color olive green that it is. Here in Santa Barbara, especially, the greens that are more olive and gray do well in the landscape.”

Agave “The shapes are so magnificent–it’s just mind-blowing how they can survive under the poorest of conditions and then be the focal point of a garden with their dramatic shapes and colors.”

Gardenias “You have to have the most perfect conditions for a successful gardenia–they love food. I love those glossy tropical flowers like gardenia, rhododendron, and philodendron for a border.”

Pittosporum “One of the most underrated plants ever–I love its silvery sheen.”

Salvia Waverly “I love it because it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, but not bees.”

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine, 2008.

With Open Arms: Sarah House

Sarah House (courtesy photo)

Sarah House (courtesy photo)

While the image of a residential care facility for people who are sick and dying doesn’t exactly conjure uplifting images, a visit to Sarah House is more inspiring than depressing.

“Sarah House is a place where you live your life until the last breath. It’s a celebration of your life,” says Kerrie Kilpatrick-Weinberg, board member of the nonprofit, which opened in 1994 as a home for people with AIDS, and has expanded its mission in recent years to focus on end-of-life care. “You have your family and the things that mean so much to you around. This is important and sometimes gets overlooked when you’re in a larger setting such as a hospital.”

According to executive director Randy Sunday, throughout the past year, 85 percent of Sarah House’s occupancy was for hospice care and only 15 percent for people with AIDS. While anyone designated as “low income” (making less than $27,000 per year) is eligible for care, about 40 percent of the people who live there were previously living on the streets, with no income at all. “These numbers have picked up because awareness has increased in the community,” he says. People often ask if there are conflicts with having formerly homeless people living alongside low-income people, but Sunday says “when you’re sitting in the living room in pajamas, it doesn’t arise; there’s a great quality about that.” He describes the atmosphere at Sarah House as, “not a luxury bed and breakfast, but there are always muffins or fresh granola. For the homeless, it might be the home that they never had. For everyone else, it’s just inspiring. The element of hospitality is something we always want to keep. The unit of care isn’t just the residents, it’s their families and friends as well.”

Working closely with the other end-of-life care agencies in town–such as Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara, Doctors Without Walls, Hospice of Santa Barbara, and Cottage Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit–who provide referrals, medical services and counseling, Sarah House offers a warm home for people to live out their days in a caring, extended family atmosphere. Named for the late Sarah Shoresman–her daughter, Linda Lorenzen-Hughes, remains active on the board of directors–Sarah House offers the highest level of medical care in an intimate, eight-bed setting, rather than a sterile hospital environment. “There’s such a need. It’s a special place, and we’re able to offer something to a group of people that may otherwise be forgotten,” says board president Jay Albert.

“We are committed to teaching people to see this as a natural journey, and this is a place to take that journey along with your friends and loved ones,” says board member Nancy Lynn. Part of that community education involves participating in special course on caring for those approaching death. “A lot of people come to the class, it’s not just caregivers but folks who think they might become caregivers at some point and people who have lost someone and want to understand more,” says Sunday.

Sarah House, which doesn’t receive funding from Medicare or Medi-Cal, raises about half a million dollars each year from private sources, individuals, foundations, and special events in order to provide all of its services at low or no cost to residents. The annual events–which include Light Up the Night, an annual holiday party where gorgeous holiday trees designed by local artists and celebrities are auctioned off; an Oscar Party, which celebrates the Academy Awards; and Second Seating Dinner Parties, where members of the community are invited to Sarah House to sit among the residents and learn about the program, among others–are designed not only to raise money but also to help educate people about the organization. “You have to have fun,” says Kilpatrick-Weinberg. “And it’s not making light of the situation. Sarah House is not about dying, it’s about celebrating and living your life right to the very end.”

For Sarah House’s annual holiday fundraiser–“Light Up The Night: The Artizan’s Ball”–on December 8 at the Santa Barbara Women’s Club, dress as your favorite artist or work of art and enjoying live music and special cocktails such as Cosmo Van Gogh. The Oak Group artists will be creating paintings on the spot, to be auctioned off, and many other unique works of art will be available for purchase, along with the traditional holiday trees, designed by local artists and celebrities. Tickets: $100 suggested donation. For more information, call 882-1192 or visit

Originally published in Santa Barbara Magazine on December 1, 2007.

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