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Noozhawk 2011Dr. Michael Bordofsky, Peggy Polsky and Linda Seltzer Yawitz honored for dedication while Clutch Project delivers dollars at benefit


From left, Hospice of Santa Barbara executive director Steve Jacobsen with the inaugural 2013 Heroes of Hospice honorees, Linda Seltzer Yawitz, Philanthropist Award; Peggy Polsky, Volunteer Award; and Dr. Michael Bordofsky, Professional Award. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

By Melissa Walker, Noozhawk iSociety Columnist | @NoozhawkSociety

Who: Heroes of Hospice of Santa Barbara

What: Inaugural gala benefiting Hospice of Santa Barbara

When: Friday, Nov. 1

Where: El Encanto Hotel

Local heroes were honored at the inaugural Heroes of Hospice of Santa Barbara held at the newly reopened El Encanto Hotel for a black-tie benefit for the hotel’s Riviera neighbor, Hospice of Santa Barbara.

Guests gathered at the Riviera Business Park location, Hospice of Santa Barbara’s home, for a champagne reception and then were escorted across the street to the lush and scenic El Encanto for dinner, live and silent auctions, dancing and awards to some special honorees.

“We are the second oldest hospice in the country,” Executive Director Steve Jacobsen said. “We’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary next year, and it’s not just about providing the services to our community; it’s changing society’s view and ability to talk about death and dying. So this year we decided to pick three professionals in our community, whether they work for us or not, that have been wonderful for compassionate end of life care.”

Event co-chairwomen Gerd Jordano and Jill Nida were an integral part of this inaugural event that honored community leaders with awards for professional, volunteer and philanthropy categories.

Jacobsen described with unbridled enthusiasm the first-ever Heroes of Hospice recipients.

“We picked Dr. Michael Bordofsky for the Professional Award. He’s a fabulous physician who has been the medical director for Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care for over 20 years, and tonight he’s being honored for his teaching for Palliative Care Consultants of Santa Barbara at Cottage Hospital.”

The Volunteer Award went to Margaret Polsky, also fondly known as Peggy, who served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II, and was one of the first nurses to volunteer at Hospice of Santa Barbra, in 1974.

“Peggy is 96 years old, and she’s been with us for almost 40 years,” Jacobsen said. “She’s sharp as a tack and continues to be an inspiration to everyone that’s knows her.”

Linda Seltzer Yawitz, recipient of the Philanthropist Award, served on the board of Hospice of Santa Barbara for over 10 years and also volunteers on numerous other boards, including CALM, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara and the Music Academy of the West.

“Linda was a board president for us in the ’90s, and she never missed a meeting. She’s been an advocate for us, working hard and raising money towards our much needed programs for 20 years,” Jacobsen said. “This is a great trio of people, and what makes this evening really special is that we found out later that the recipients all know each other.”

A special and unique part of the silent auction included the opportunity to bid on 36 artistically crafted items from The Clutch Project, which brought spirited enthusiasm to the proceedings for the one-of-a-kind “clutch” purses.

Hospice of Santa Barbara is a volunteer organization that specializes in providing spiritual, social and emotional needs for the terminally ill while supporting children and families with grief counselingtrained volunteerssupport groups and a wide array of community education programs.

All services are free of charge, and Hospice of Santa Barbara works closely with home health agencies, certified hospice programs and private agencies to meet the nursing needs of patients.

Two unique flagship programs in particular have served hundreds of people countywide.

Four years ago, the nonprofit organization implemented a grief counseling service for local high school students to help them cope with the emotional ramifications of losing family members, friends or a fellow classmate who commits suicide.

“We have reached about 120 kids in our school district experiencing a death and we help them through the grieving process,” Jacobsen said.

Additionally, the community spiritual care program launched three years ago attracts people who are dealing with personal loss and are in need of spiritual guidance. Jacobsen spoke of the work performed by trained spiritual counselors and trained volunteers who are always on hand to help with any spiritual, personal and philosophical and religious issues that clients experience.

“Something’s going on in their life and they think what is the meaning of this?” he said. “We are there for their unmet spiritual needs.”

— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at[email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk,@NoozhawkSociety@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan ofNoozhawk on Facebook.

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