On October 10, Dream Foundation held a lovely Twilight in the Garden event at a splendid Montecito estate to raise funds and recognize longtime donors. The event netted $140,000 for this Santa Barbara–based national nonprofit that fulfills dream requests of terminally ill adults.
About 65 guests enjoyed mingling over cocktails and extensive hors d’oeuvres while Mel McGary provided background jazz music. During the program, CEO Kisa Heyer welcomed guests and presented the Leadership of Excellence Award to Carpinteria residents Colleen Barnett-Taylor and Michael Taylor for their incredible generosity, which has made possible 560+ dreams.
This couple, along with Board Chair Kenny Slaught and his wife, Elizabeth Slaught, and J. Paul Gignac, were celebrated also as inductees into the Quarter Century Club, signifying 25 years of support for the foundation. Gignac was praised, too, for having the Dream Foundation named as the beneficiary of a class action lawsuit that yielded $286,000.
S.B. Rescue Mission President Rolf Geyling expressed his deep gratitude to Dream Foundation for fulfilling the dream request of his late wife, Trish Geyling, for a family trip to New York. Andrew Firestone led an entertaining and enticing auction.
Sign up for Indy Today to receive fresh news from Independent.com, in your inbox, every morning.
Pre-COVID, about 60 percent of dream requests were travel related, most commonly family vacations to favorite spots, trips to theme parks, or trips to attend sporting events and/or meet an athlete. With the pandemic lockdown putting a pause on travel dreams, the foundation saw an uptick in requests for computers and tablets.
Last year, 348 dreams were fulfilled, down from 605 dreams in 2019 because of a significant COVID-induced drop in applications. Applications have risen this year, and dream requests for travel are now once again being fulfilled, to the delight of applicants and Dream Foundation staff. Thanks to generous in-kind corporate donors, Dream Foundation is able to keep the average cost of fulfilling a dream to $2,300.
While Dream Foundation operates its main program nationally, it operates another program — Flower Empower — locally, primarily between Goleta and Carpinteria. This volunteer-driven program delivers floral bouquets made with donated flowers, cookies freshly baked and donated by longtime supporter Robin Himovitz, chocolates donated by Chocolats du CaliBressan, and handmade cards to people in hospices, nursing homes, cancer centers, and private homes. With the lockdown, institutions did not allow deliveries, so deliveries shifted to friends, colleagues, health-care and other essential workers, and strangers.
Amid the challenges of the pandemic, 5,500 bouquets still were delivered (down from 11,000+ in 2019). At the start of 2021, some institutions began allowing deliveries, and others have followed since. Also last year, as part of Westerlay Orchids’ 100,000 Orchid Challenge, Dream Foundation volunteers distributed 25,000 orchids to the Santa Barbara and Ventura County communities.
For more info on Dream Foundation or if interested in volunteering for Saturday morning flower deliveries, go to dreamfoundation.org.
For coverage of other events, go to independent.com/society.