Directions, Please

Volunteer Host Program Helps Tourists and Newcomers Navigate Downtown

During the summer, tourists and newcomers can be seen wandering confusedly downtown in attempts to locate a place, without an address or any directions. Perhaps they are looking for somewhere to get a quick bite, or where the public library is. Whatever they are in search of, it is lost to them. That’s where the Host Program steps in. The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization‘s (DO) Host Program will equip State Street with volunteer guides for the lost souls roaming its blocks.

It was hard to get volunteers last year because it was our first year,” said Georgette Friedman, marketing and sales coordinator for DO, which is a nonprofit organization. “But we started early this year and worked out the bugs.”

Beginning May 23, DO will ensure tourists and newcomers get the maximum amount of information by providing 12 volunteers daily to help point them in the right direction.

There will be three main stations for people to get input across State Street: the 500 block at Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro, the 700 block at the Paseo Nuevo Mall entrance, and the 1100 block near the State & A Restaurant and Bar.

Although the DO Host Program is sponsored by big businesses like the Paseo Nuevo Mall, The Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau, and The Santa Barbara Film Commission, Friedman ensures that there is no hidden agenda to have hosts promote one business more than another. “We don’t particularly have an agenda for them other than to be courteous and friendly,” said Friedman.

Though volunteers are given quick reference guides, Friedman said that many “rely on their own knowledge of downtown” to give others an objective view of the area. The host station will also be equipped with a phone book, a map and guide to downtown, and a list of sponsors.

Everybody is welcome to volunteer,” said Freidman. In order to do so, those interested are asked to submit a request to with the time and date preference of when they would like to work. The Host Program will be running Saturday and Sunday afternoons from May through September.

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