Chandeliers hung from the ceiling and vintage china decorated the tables. The food and entertainment were A-list. This was no ordinary barn and no ordinary bash.
It’s what you get when the Rona Barrett Foundation throws a “Barn Bash!” as its first benefit for Golden Inn & Village (GIV).
The event took place Oct. 30 at Rancho San Antonio in Buellton, where more than 200 guests gathered to raise funds for GIV, the first affordable housing for seniors in the Santa Ynez Valley. The money brought in from ticket sales, a single auction item and a fund-a-need paddle raise will go toward furnishing the community’s common areas, Barrett said.
GIV began construction in March and expects to open in summer 2016. There will be 60 independent living units plus housing for employees and their families, she said. Assisted living and memory care units will follow as the campus completes construction.
“We will have a beautiful community center that will eventually provide people with some wonderful programs to help seniors build a new future,” Barrett said.
A pioneering Hollywood correspondent, Barrett moved to the Valley 30 years ago and for a time ran a lavender business. It was her personal experience taking care of her father for a decade that led her to become a senior advocate and to focus on the need for affordable senior housing, she explained.
The Barn Bash! was the Rona Barrett Foundation’s inaugural benefit gala and it took the generosity of numerous supporters and longtime friends to make it happen, she said.
Greg and Bobbie McGee, owners of Rancho San Antonio, donated the venue, including all the tables, chairs and table settings. Longtime Barrett acquaintance Archie McLaren donated tickets to his 2016 Central Coast Wine Classic that were auctioned off.
Frank Ostini had a large Hitching Post II contingent, including his brother Bob Ostini, turning out tri-tip, chicken, grilled vegetables and salad by the pound. “How do you say ‘no’ to Rona? You don’t!” Frank said with a laugh. His Hartley Ostini Hitching Post wine was also on every table, as were donated vintages from several other local wineries.
Award-winning western singer/songwriter Dave Stamey responded in similar fashion.
“I’d never met Rona and there aren’t a lot of people in this room who I know. But when I was called and told about Golden Inn & Village, well by the end of the conversation I knew I had to participate,” he said.
Greg LeRoy played jazz guitar for the arriving guests. Volunteers from organizations ranging from the Valley’s Rotary clubs to Recovery Ranch residents helped with the set up and parking.
Actor Jim Farnum, a friend of Barrett’s going back to their respective Hollywood days, pitched in as master of ceremonies and called her “simply amazing.”
Taking the podium, Barrett thanked several foundations for their contributions, including the Valley Foundation. But Barrett has a wide reach and not all the foundations she praised were local.
Foundations in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Indianapolis have also lent their support, she said.
Her audience that night included the famous and not-so-well known. Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson were there. So were Kathleen Campbell, Walt and Kay Alves, Betty and Stan Hatch and Les Jones. Barrett also included several seniors in the party. They were among those who GIV may eventually serve, the elderly who rarely if ever get to enjoy such a night out.
“Nothing is worth anything without a community that comes to the aid of the people who need it most,” Barrett told the gathered crowd. “I thought Hollywood was a generous place but I think our Santa Barbara County, and those who live in Santa Ynez, Solvang, Los Olivos, Ballard, Buellton, Santa Maria and down the road to Lompoc, have been equally giving and generous. As someone has said, it takes a village to build a village.”
She also shared that her office “has been absolutely deluged with phone calls and everyone has been saying, ‘How do I get an application? Can I tell you my story?’ We’re very happy to announce that come January, we are going to start taking applications.”
Joking that her outfit of overalls and a plaid shirt was left over from her days of farming lavender, Barrett commented on her crusade for GIV.
“This is the best career I have ever had, helping our seniors in need have a bright new future and not think that after 50 life is over.”
For more information on the Rona Barrett Foundation and its Golden Inn & Village, visit www.ronabarrettfoundation.org.