PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unlikely Fundraisers Inspired by Halloween

Halloween Party Brings Volunteers Back to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Santa Barbara, CA – October 22, 2014

This Halloween, the Garden will wrap up the Community Gifts portion of their multi-year comprehensive Seed the Future campaign. The fundraising team for Community Gifts consists mostly of volunteer docents, with no fundraising experience, many of whom had once been part of a volunteer strike at the Garden. But today, they are just a few thousand dollars away from reaching their goal of raising $100,000 in small gifts from the community and winning a matching gift from the Mericos Foundation. At least one of these volunteers counts a Halloween party three years ago as part of her journey back to the heart of the Garden.

Kathie McClure,a retired school teacher, has been a docent at the Garden for 23 years. But in the spring of 2009, she joined other volunteers in a strike, to force some action on the many issues threatening the future of the Garden. By late summer, the Board took a new direction and requested the volunteers, including Kathie, be involved in the selection of a new executive director. When Steve Windhager was chosen, most of the volunteers began to trickle back. “We had cautious hopes for a new direction, but had yet to see it in action,” said Kathie.

“When Steve invited everyone: every single volunteer, staff person, trustee, donor- everyone to his house for a Halloween party that year, I was stunned. In nearly 20 years volunteering, I had never been invited to the Director’s house, or to anything with staff and trustees,” Kathie recalls. “My husband and I were dressed as hippies- with crazy wild wigs. As I stood there sharing a peace sign with a staff person, I just knew everything was going to be okay.”

Kathie still gives school tours as a docent, for the past nine months has also worked on the Community Gifts Committee with a team of other docents and volunteers to raise money for Seed the Future. “Of course, as a teacher, I believe in giving children a good future, hopefully one that is full of the beauty and diversity of the native plants that we have in the Garden.” But Kathie admits support of the mission of the Garden would probably not have been enough to get her involved in fundraising.

“It was more about family,” she says, “and maybe a few painkillers.” Kathie recalls that she had been on bed rest with pain medication due to a water skiing accident when Seed the Future Community Gifts Chair, Carolyn Kincaid Henderson, called and asked her to join the team. “I am not sure I even knew what team I was joining, but I knew I wanted to work with Carolyn and the other great volunteers from the Garden.”

With just two weeks to go, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is over 83% of the way towards reaching its goal for the Community Gifts Challenge matching gift from the Mericos Foundation. The Community Gifts Challenge is the final phase of a three year long, $14 million fundraising campaign that will allow the Garden to rebuild from the Jesusita Fire. Funds will be used to build a conservation center, plant new gardens, and create exhibit areas to enhance the Garden’s ability to foster a love of California native plants through conservation, research, and education.

This Halloween, Kathie and her husband will be back at Steve’s house for the annual costume party. She won’t say what this year’s costume will be, but she does hope to be celebrating success in her first fundraising campaign. “Every donation I bring in makes me happy we never gave up on the Garden and that I am part of making this beautiful place, and beautiful family of support even brighter.” You can help Kathie meet the goal before Halloween by showing your support with a donation of any amount at

To arrange an interview or request high-res photos, please contact Rebecca Mordini, Communications Coordinator, at 805-682-4726 ext. 132.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is a 78-acre educational and scientific institution fostering the conservation of California’s native plants and serves as a role model for sustainable practice in Santa Barbara, California. The Garden was founded in 1926 and is among of the nation’s oldest botanic gardens focused exclusively on native plants.

The Mericos Foundation was established in conjunction with the estate of Donald Whittier who loved Santa Barbara for its natural beauty.

The Seed the Future Comprehensive Campaign is funding the construction of the Pritzlaff Conservation Center, a LEED certified building that will include research labs, exhibition space, and more room for public education and outreach.

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