On April 28, more than 200 women and a few good men gathered on the picturesque lawn of the Biltmore for the Angels by the Sea Marketplace and Luncheon. The annual fundraiser, which raised nearly $100,000 this year, supports Angels Foster Care’s program for abused, abandoned and neglected infants and toddlers. Since its founding in 2006, Angels has placed 217 infants and toddlers in foster homes and lead the way to 101 adoptions.
On this perfect Santa Barbara day, guests leisurely shopped in the marketplace that rimmed the garden and featured area merchants that were donating a percentage of sales to the organization. Guests were then seated for lunch where they were greeted by co-emcees Erin Graffy and Catherine Remak. A lovely fashion show followed, featuring models who were all former Angels Foster Care (Angels) parents who had adopted the child or children they had fostered. The models, wearing stylish clothing from area merchants, gracefully and leisurely strolled around all of the tables.
Catherine Remak explained how Meichelle Arntz was motivated to found Angels Foster Care because of the experience she had as a volunteer with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of seeing the two children she was assigned moved to a new home eight times.
Arntz, who is the Executive Director, shared with the guests some of the reasons why Angels is so special. Unlike a public foster home where up to eight children can be placed, an Angels foster home is limited to one foster child or sibling set. Arntz emphasized the critical importance of the one-on-one attention at this young age. Angels’ dedicated social workers get to know foster parents and carefully match infants and toddlers with the most appropriate family. These families must have a full-time parent and commit to keep the baby for the duration of the foster period, typically about 18 months.
Holly Murphy was honored as the “MVP” for being the visionary who created the luncheon six years ago and for providing the leadership, tireless effort and beautiful tableware for the luncheon every year. Murphy is the owner of the downtown shop, Coast 2 Coast Collection, and is a major philanthropist and volunteer. She has worked with many organizations, including The Dream Foundation, Lobero Theatre, and Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
Nick Salvesen was honored as the Volunteer of the Year for his efforts in raising funds and awareness for Angels. Salvesen and his wife Cami were foster parents and adopted a child through Angels. Salvesen played an integral role in the inaugural Angels Glitter Dash 5K, implemented his own personal “50 miles for Foster Care,” and lead fundraising drives at several 7-Elevens.
Angels provides thorough training for its foster parents with a classroom-based curriculum taught by a licensed clinical social worker. Once a child is placed with a foster family, social workers develop close relationships with the foster parents, visiting regularly and attending all court dates.
Angels always has a shortage of foster homes. For more information about Angels, go to angelsfostercare.org.
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By Gail Arnold