On April 14, 525 supporters of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast (PPCCC) descended on the Ritz-Carlton Bacara for the delightful annual Birds and Bees Bash. The $225,000 net proceeds from the event will support PPCCC’s provision of reproductive health services, education and advocacy.
Guests mingled on the warm, sunny Ballroom Terrace during an extended cocktail hour before retiring to an elegant, very dimly-lit purple Ballroom, where emcee Geoff Green welcomed them. Throughout the evening, Green both entertained the crowd and spoke passionately about the importance of PPCCC and its need for funding. He explained how if you look globally, it is clear that access to family planning information, education, and services is more closely correlated with healthy families, healthy communities, and healthy economies than anything else. He lauded Planned Parenthood’s century of experience and incredible track record of ensuring that everyone has access to these critical things.
Board Chair Dr. Karen Engberg shared the struggle PPCCC has faced with the Trump administration’s efforts to de-fund the organization, which last year would have resulted in a loss of two-thirds of its funding. She related how this threat significantly mobilized support for PPCCC, resulting in 3,600 new donors last year, which more than doubled the existing donor base. Engberg cautioned that while federal funding remains intact, the threat remains. Last year, PPCCC launched the Fight Back Fund and she announced that it was just $200,000 shy of its $3 million goal (it will get $70,000 of the $225,000 event proceeds).
President and CEO Jenna Tosh introduced this year’s Jean K. Schuyler Award recipient, Leslie Sweem Bhutani. By video, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards shared her gratitude, calling Bhutani a true hero and explaining how Bhutani has supported Planned Parenthood for nearly 30 years with her inspiring volunteerism and philanthropy. Bhutani served on the PPCCC board from 2011-17 and has served on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Leadership Council for the past 11 years, volunteered in numerous other capacities, and donated generously (including as lead sponsor for this event).
In accepting the award, Bhutani had the crowd roaring with laughter and endeared herself to her many friends in attendance as well as those who hadn’t yet had the pleasure of making her acquaintance. She passionately described the valuable work of the PPCCC and its need for continued funding because of the ongoing attacks. After moving testimonials and a call for support through text donations, the main event gave way to the After Hours party, where guests danced into the night.
Planned Parenthood plays an enormous role in California, with one in five women having visited one its health centers. PPCCC provides reproductive health services including cancer screenings, contraception, abortion services, sex education, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections. Last fiscal year, the five centers served about 33,000 patients, primarily young women. The Santa Barbara center served about 8,000 of those. Nobody is turned away because of an inability to pay. Abortion, while offered at all five centers, makes up only six percent of the healthcare services provided. PPCCC educates teens and young adults about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections through bilingual and bicultural programs. Its advocacy team, which includes a large volunteer contingent, last year sent nearly 5,000 petitions and letters in support of state and federal legislation to protect and expand access to reproductive health services.
For more info about Planned Parenthood California Central Coast, go here.
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By Gail Arnold