On Saturday September 9, a sold-out crowd of 400 gathered for one of Santa Barbara’s most fun fundraisers – the Santa Barbara Yacht Club Charity Regatta, which every year raises funds for Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care (VNHC). The club organizes the event, hosts it at its idyllic clubhouse, and taps its members for major donations and the use of their boats for racing and spectator viewing. This year’ event netted about $130,000, bringing the total raised over the past 13 years to more than $1.3 million. Commodore BIll Guilfoyle explained that the club selects VNHC every year as the recipient because of the broad impact VNHC has in the community. Everyone in the club has either had a direct experience with VNHC or knows someone who has.
The day began with a delicious brunch and mingling in the clubhouse, on the decks and beach. During a brief program, Guilfoyle welcomed the guests and shared how this year’s theme is Celebrating Healthcare Volunteers. VNHC has several hundred trained hospice, Vet-to-Vet, and administrative volunteers and can always use more.
Hospice volunteer Scott Eschbach eloquently shared how the hospice volunteers’ role is one of companionship and compassion, and while the role is an enormous responsibility, it is also an enormous honor. Eschbach urged others who have the gift to do this kind of work to volunteer, noting that “if we are not here to love, support, and help one another, then I’m not really sure why we are here. And so the question is not, Scott, how can you do that work … the question is Scott, how can you not do that kind of work?” Rousing applause followed.
Guests then could stay at the club to mingle, watch the race, and do other fun activities or they could jump on one of the 15 spectator boats. Along with about a dozen others, I jumped on Isla, Dennis and Sandy Boneck’s luxurious and spotless 44-foot High Star motoryacht. The Bonecks provided entertaining company, a smooth ride, front row race viewing, and bounteous food and beverages. Perfect conditions prevailed with 10-12 knot winds and warm sunshine. 32 boats ranging from 20 to 70 feet, including Taxi Dancer and Prevail, competed in five classes. After the race, guests enjoyed an early salmon and chicken buffet dinner while One, Two, Tree played lively tunes and then an awards ceremony concluded the event. A fabulous day for a fabulous cause.
Founded in 1908, VNHC provides comprehensive home health and personal care services. It offers hospice services both in home and at Serenity House. Thanks to fundraising efforts like the Regatta, VNHC is able to offer charity care for those unable to pay the full cost of its services so that it never has to turn away a patient for an inability to pay. Last year, VNHC served 12,000 patients and their families and was able to provide $2.4 million worth of charity care. VNHC also operates the Loan Closet, where medical equipment is loaned for free or given away. Last year, 4,000 items were provided.