Last Saturday, August 27, Summerland Winery showed once again that not only does it produce world-class wines, but that its owner, Bilo Zarif, has an enormous heart and knows how to throw quite the party. A sold-out crowd of 300 came to the Nesbitts’ Bella Vista Ranch in Summerland for Under the Harvest Sun, the 11th annual fundraiser. All net proceeds, $30,000, went to Just Imagine It and the Summerland School.
Just Imagine It is a nonprofit whose Santa Barbara chapter decorates rooms at Cottage Children’s Medical Center for children admitted for long-term care. The aim is to provide a positive atmosphere of hope, joy, and excitement. Operating from the premise that a happy patient is a healing patient, the nonprofit also hopes to aid in the child’s recovery.
The organization’s founder, interior designer Cami Wright, showed Zarif the organization’s work at Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. When Zarif saw how the children’s faces lit up when their rooms were decorated, he instantly decided to start a program in Santa Barbara. He enlisted the support of Berkshire Hathaway district manager Kyle Kemp, realtor Alexis Foth McCaw, and Jaynie Wood, child life specialist at Cottage Children’s Medical Center, and together they began the chapter at Cottage Hospital three and a half years ago. Every week, 7-10 rooms are decorated with themes based on questionnaire responses from the child’s family.
Laura DeBrum, the mother of a young cancer patient, shared with the guests her gratitude for the “medicine for her soul” that Just Imagine It provided to her daughter. With deep emotion in her voice, she explained how the decorated room “takes her to a place where she feels that it is going to be okay because it turns the room into her room and not a hospital room.”
During the holidays, Just Imagine It, with funding from Kris Kardashian Jenner, hosts a Christmas tree decorating party at Cottage where each child decorates his or her own small tree.
The organization is totally volunteer-run, with no administrative expenses. While the Los Angeles chapter is no longer operating, Wright opened a chapter at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, earlier this year, and there are plans in the works for chapters in Denver and Corpus Christi.
The event also raised funds for Summerland School. Part of the Carpinteria Unified School District, the school serves 67 students in grades K-5. It relies significantly on support from parents and the community to supplement district funding.
Guests clad in fashionable polo attire arrived at the idyllic estate to mingle, watch polo, and taste a wide selection of Summerland’s wines. A polo match featured U.S. Polo Association stars, including Adam Snow, Scott Wood, and Michel Dorignac.
A heavenly Mediterranean dinner was served al fresco while guests were treated to magical aerial dance performances by Elevated Dreams and music by Zephan and the Tribe.
Actor Billy Baldwin and KEYT senior reporter John Palminteri led a lively and entertaining auction and an ask for each charity. Dance tunes commenced and guests danced the night away.
It was an absolutely enchanting event, and all for such worthy causes.
Major sponsors of the event were Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Daniel Gibbings, Montecito Bank & Trust, ERG, Ferrari Los Angeles, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Girl Gang Production, Fox Studios, Santa Barbara Magazine, and American Riviera Bank.
For more information on Summerland Winery, go to summerlandwine.com. For more information on Just Imagine It, go to just-imagine-it.org. For more information on the Summerland School, go to summerland.cusd.net.
By Gail Arnold