United Way: Community Volunteers Help Students Celebrate Dr. Seuss with United We Read Event

United Way: Community Volunteers Help Students Celebrate Dr. Seuss with United We Read Event


schoolzoneSanta Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and others head into classrooms at three local schools for a special storytime


Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider reads “Corduroy” to Franklin Elementary School first-graders on Friday for United Way of Santa Barbara County’s United We Read event, held in honor of Monday’s Dr. Seuss Day. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper | Published on 02.27.2015 5:00 p.m.

Little readers at Franklin Elementary School got a special treat on Friday as two dozen volunteers entered their classrooms for a special storytime.

Volunteers, including Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, invited children to gather around as they brought in their favorite children’s books as part of the United We Read event, hosted by United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Young Leaders Society.

The event took place in advance of Dr. Seuss Day, which will be Monday, also referred to as Read Across America Day.

Since its inception, the Young Leaders Society has donated more than 650 books and more than $2,000 to local schools through the United We Read program

United Way officials also presented a $200 check on Friday morning to the Franklin School Library for books and supplies.

Those funds were raised by YLS volunteers last fall during their annual Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser.

It’s the sixth year the organization has held the event, and sends readers to El Camino Elementary in Goleta as well as Aliso Elementary in Carpinteria, according to United Way’s Steve Ortiz.

Sixty volunteers participated at the three schools on Friday, and the organization isalways looking for more volunteers, Ortiz said.

The goal is to inspire children to read so they can be successful in their educational journey, Ortiz said.

In addition to having a book read to them, the children are also given a few minutes to ask the reader questions about their lives, Ortiz said.

The event lines up with education goals that the nonprofit has for the community.

“We realized a lot of kids are reading way below grade level,” Ortiz said.

The classroom appearances are just one component of the reading outreach done by United Way of Santa Barbara County. For example, many young children in low-income households have no access to books, so the Dolly Parton Imagination Libraryhas a book mailed to more than 1,350 county children under age 5 each month, at no charge.

Brad Smith, who works at Cottage Health System, was another reader who made an appearance in a first-grade class and chose to read Curious George Rides a Train.

“It’s one of the most fun things I do every year,” he said.


— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.


Grace Lutheran Church of Santa Barbara Gifts Land for Housing Community for Low-Income Seniors

Grace Lutheran Church of Santa Barbara Gifts Land for Housing Community for Low-Income Seniors





Architect’s rendering of the future Grace Village for Seniors. (Rendering courtesy of Grace Lutheran Church)


By Juliana Minsky for Grace Lutheran Church | Published on 02.26.2015 9:33 a.m.

On Sunday, Feb. 15, 113 years since its first worship service and 55 years from the first service at its State Street property, Grace Lutheran Church held it final service.

More than 125 members, pastors, family and friends of the congregation attended the Worship Service of Thanksgiving, then joined together for a festive luncheon to honor the founders’ vision of service to the community, and to celebrate the beginning of Grace Lutheran’s “new legacy of service” as the future location of Grace Village for Seniors, a housing community for low-income seniors, with ongoing funding of local mission services established by the congregation.

The service was presided over by the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, bishop for the Southwest California Synod, and the special program at the luncheon included remarks by Pat Wheatley, president of Grace Lutheran Church, Rob Pearson, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, the Rev. Erwin, Bill Jennings, CFO of California Lutheran Homes and Community Services, and the Rev. Chris Miller, interim pastor.

“Grace Lutheran has had a positive impact in the lives of so many people in Santa Barbara, including my own family,” said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. “I have been blessed to be a member of the congregation for decades. And while the closure of the Grace congregation signifies an ending in one sense, it is also a sign of a fresh beginning. The gifting of the land will allow Grace’s legacy of service to our community to continue by providing much needed housing to low income seniors in our community.”

Like many congregations throughout the country, with an aging membership yet an undiminished will for service to the community, 10 years ago Grace Lutheran members began to explore ways to continue its strong service to membership and to the greater Santa Barbara community.

This exploration led to the gifting of its land for development jointly by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara and Front Porch Communities and Services as the Grace Village for Seniors. California Lutheran Homes will the current community programs as well as the support services to be provided to residents of Grace Village.

GlC_2From left, Bill Jennings, CFO for California Lutheran Homes and Community Services; Pat Wheatley, president of Grace Lutheran Church; the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, bishop of the Southwest California Synod; and Rob Pearson, CEO of the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara. (Linda Blue Photography photo)

“As one of the five local congregations that founded and continue to support Transition House, our members have long been dedicated to housing our community’s most vulnerable,” said Pat Wheatley, Grace Lutheran Council president. “We are blessed to partner with our City’s Housing Authority and with California Lutheran Homes, that both have demonstrated time and time again their commitment to the well-being of our precious seniors. Each also brings its own legacy of success in creating the purpose-built housing and support services crucial to that quality of life.”

Construction of Grace Village for Seniors is expected to break ground in 2016, followed by an estimated 18-month construction schedule. Peikert + RRM Design Group has been selected as the project architects.

While the closing of Grace Lutheran Church creates a new legacy of shelter for vulnerable seniors, the congregation is assuring vital ongoing support for its new residents through Grace Village Services as well as ongoing support for low-income families and individuals served by local community agencies. Grace Housing Inc., a nonprofit corporation, has been formed to receive and distribute lease income from Grace Lutheran’s properties now administered by California Lutheran Homes. Income from these leases will fund local services through a Legacy Framework established by the congregation. The congregation will see funding continue for community organizations supporting the mission of establishing permanent housing for families and food security, including Transition House and Habitat for Humanity, as well as Grace Lutheran’s 40-year old Saturday food program, the Grace Food Pantry.

The Grace Lutheran facility will also continue to serve the community until construction begins, as the church building will continue to host the many community groups that have been meeting there over the years, including several 12-Step Groups, Alzheimer’s support groups, Grace Quilters and others.

“Although with a measure of pain and a sense of loss, the closing of the Grace congregation does not mean the end of a ministry,” Wheatley said. “In fact, closing has provided the congregation an opportunity of expanding that ministry throughout the years as we try to listen to what God is calling us to do.”

The members of the Grace Lutheran Council, elected by the congregation to serve as the administrative body of the church, are Wheatley, president; Jeannie Christensen, vice president; Inez Christensen, treasurer; Barbara Wagner, secretary; Joan Bennett; Jim Benz; and, Phil Archenbronn.

— Juliana Minsky is a publicist representing Grace Lutheran Church.



United Way of Santa Barbara County Presents: “United We Read”

United Way of Santa Barbara County Presents: “United We Read”



Links to:

United Way of Santa Barbara County Presents “United We Read”

United Way of Santa Barbara County Presents “United We Read”

February 27 @ 8:30 am – 10:30 am


Inspire local elementary school children to read and succeed through United Way’s United We Read program. Volunteers and members of the Young Leader’s Society will be paired up with a local K-6 classroom to read aloud to the students and show them that reading is fun. At the end of the program, the book will be donated to the classroom to enhance their libraries.

Date:   Friday, February 27, 2015


Time:  8:30 a.m.-10:30a.m.


Various Locations:    Franklin School at 1111 East Mason Street in Santa Barbara

El Camino School at 5020 San Simeon Drive in Goleta

Aliso School at 4545 Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria


To sign up for the United We Read program, visit http://www.unitedwaysb.org/form/united-we-read.For more information, please contact Cori Gacad at [email protected].

United We Read is part of a larger effort spearheaded by United Way of Santa Barbara County focusing on reaching community driven 10- year goals in education.



Rona Barrett Foundation: Golden Inn & Village Project Raises $525,000 of $800,000 Fundraising Goal

Rona Barrett Foundation: Golden Inn & Village Project Raises $525,000 of $800,000 Fundraising Goal


senior living noozhawk


By Kelly Kapaun for the Rona Barrett Foundation | Published on 02.25.2015 4:23 p.m.

With the support of the community, the Rona Barrett Foundation’s Golden Inn & Village has raised $525,000 toward the construction of the first affordable senior housing and residential care “aging in place” facility in Santa Ynez Valley that is designed to serve the community’s most vulnerable residents.

“I’m thrilled with the response,” said Rona Barrett, president of the Rona Barrett Foundation, which is championing the project. “We have received donations large and small. The most heartwarming are checks from individuals, who may only be able to afford $50 or $100 but who understand what we are trying to achieve and want to help. We love the large donations, too!”

As a condition of receiving the $23 million in tax credits that will allow the construction to begin for the GIV, the Rona Barrett Foundation must raise the remaining $275,000 by this Sunday, March 1. The foundation thanks its community partners and individual donors for donations so far toward a critical $800,000 funding goal.

The tax credits also mean that for every $1 a supporter donates to the Campaign for the GIV, an estimated $23 will be returned as community dividends in the form of local jobs, local salaries and local expenditures for equipment, transportation and supplies.

Construction for the GIV is slated to begin in March with a completion date in the fall of 2016. The Golden Inn & Village is a mixed use development in a neighborhood setting that will provide approximately 150 affordable units for low-income seniors to reside in a comfortable, supportive environment that meets their needs as they age. Services will range from independent to assisted living and memory care to hospice all on one campus. The programs and services provided will be coordinated in collaboration with multiple community partners and engage the broader community at large, avoiding duplication and leveraging strengths, while multiplying benefits to all.

The Golden Inn & Village was conceived specifically to address the needs of our senior loved ones, parents, friends, neighbors and especially orphaned seniors — those who have no one left to care for them. It is for seniors who live within our area but, with resources dwindling, are forced to survive on little more than Social Security.

For more information about or to donate to GIV, click here.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing the Rona Barrett Foundation.



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