State Street Guides

The D.O.’s Volunteer Host Program Helps Folks Find What They’re Looking For

During the summer, tourists (and residents) often can be seen wandering confusedly downtown. Perhaps they are looking for somewhere to get a quick bite, or the public library; whatever they are in search of, it is lost to them. Enter the Downtown Organization’s Host Program.

In its second year, the Host Program equips State Street with volunteer guides for the disoriented souls roaming the streets. “It was hard to get volunteers last year, because it was our first year,” said Georgette Friedman, Marketing and Sales Coordinator for the D.O., a nonprofit organization. “But we started early this year and worked out the bugs.”

The Host Program’s goal is to ensure folks get the maximum amount of information and therefore can avoid wandering aimlessly. Beginning Saturday, May 23, volunteers will be stationed outside various locations each weekend to point inquiring minds in the right direction.

There will be three information stations on State Street: Pierre Lafond Wine Bistro (500 block of State St.); the Paseo Nuevo Mall entrance (700 block of State St.); and S.B. Museum of Art (1100 block of State St.). You can readily spot the kiosks as there will be two volunteers, a table, chairs, and an umbrella.

Although the D.O. Host Program is sponsored by big businesses like the Paseo Nuevo Mall and the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission, Friedman assures that hosts won’t be promoting one business more than another. “We don’t particularly have an agenda for [the volunteers] 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 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. To do so you need to submit a request to that includes your work time and date preferences. The Host Program runs Saturday and Sunday afternoons from May 23 to September 27. For more information, visit

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