On September 8, nearly 400 guests enjoyed one of Santa Barbara’s most fun fundraisers – the Santa Barbara Yacht Club’s Charity Regatta, which over the past 14 years has raised more than $1.4 million for Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care (VNHC).
The perfect day began with guests mingling on the idyllic deck and inside the clubhouse, partaking of a buffet champagne brunch, taking in the harbor and ocean views, and listening to Ross Harper on the steel drums and acoustic pop rock music by Spencer Vincent.
A short program included the presenting of the colors by Boy Scouts Troops 33 and 11, a moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by David Gonzales, and a warm welcome by Commodore John Koontz. VNHC hospice volunteer David Sparer shared his deep gratitude for the services VNHC provided to him and his late wife, restoring their dignity and causing him to really want to give back as a hospice volunteer. Sparer posited that the vast majority of guests at the event will either use VNHC services or have loved ones who will. He emphasized how important fundraising is to enable VNHC to extend its services to more people in the community.
Then the highlight of the day began, with guests boarding 18 spectator boats, generously provided by yacht club members, to enjoy a splendid afternoon of cruising and watching the 14 race boats in the regatta. Along with about three dozen others, I boarded Roger and Sarah Chrisman’s Polaris, a 2017 luxurious, elegantly appointed, custom built 76 ft. Offshore motoryacht. With Roger at the helm, we had a smooth and otherwise delightful cruise, which included premier regatta viewing and a close-up view of the Celebrity cruise ship.
A teacher, chosen by school superintendents, was onboard each of the race boats as a celebrity skipper. It was part of the club’s honoring of teachers for rising to the many challenges they confronted in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow. These challenges included getting to and from the temporary or regular school sites and providing the critical, multifaceted support students needed.
Upon returning to the harbor, guests on the boats joined others who had opted to stay at the clubhouse during the regatta and the after-party began. Guests enjoyed a buffet dinner at tables in the sand and on the deck while One, Two, Tree provided fun island music. An awards ceremony concluded the day, with Jeff Grange winning the PHRF class, Kenneth Fish and Tom Molyneux the CHRF class, and Rick Yabsley the Harbor 20 class.
Founded in 1908, VNHC provides comprehensive home health and personal care services. It offers hospice services both in home and at Serenity House, serving about 12,000 people annually. Thanks to VNHC’s foundation and fundraising efforts such as the Charity Regatta, VNHC never has to turn away a patient for an inability to pay. Last year, VNHC provided more than $2.4 million in subsidized care and community service. Many SBYC members have benefited from VNHC services, making them passionate supporters.
In the aftermath of the disasters, VNHC assisted the community in many ways. Serenity House became a shelter for 14 evacuees from Casa Dorinda and VNHC’s bereavement program counseled 29 victims. The Loan Closet, which loans and gives away medical equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs, provided more than 400 items to displaced residents (and a total of more than 3,600 items to all residents during the year).
VHNC has more than 200 volunteers and always welcomes new ones. The next training for hospice volunteers begins next month. For more info about VNHC, go to vnhcsb.org. For more information on the Santa Barbara Yacht Club, visit sbyc.org.
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