VNA Health President & CEO Kieran Shah, SB Yacht Club Commodore David Sadecki, and VNA Health Foundation Director Lailan McGrath | Credit: Gail Arnold

On September 9, the Santa Barbara Yacht Club (SBYC) hosted a delightful full-day event to raise critical funds for VNA Health. Last year, the value of VNA’s charity care was nearly $4 million; including $1.6 million for its hospice, Serenity House; $1.4 million for its Home Health and Home Hospice programs; and more than $700,000 for its Palliative Care program.

A lively champagne brunch reception at the Club kicked off the fun-filled day for the 300 guests, complete with steel drum music by Ross Harper. A short program included the singing of the national anthem by David Gonzales and a warm welcome from SBYC Commodore David Sadecki. 

The event began 19 years ago to help the community, Sadecki explained, noting how widespread the use of VNA Health’s services is in the community and how VNA Health delivers trusted and compassionate care when it is needed most. Over the years, the event has raised more than $2.2 million for the nonprofit (formerly known as Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care).

VNA Health President and CEO Kieran Shah expressed gratitude not only to the Yacht Club but also to longtime event co-chairs Francie Lufkin and Nick Sebastian, endearingly referring to the day as the “Francie and Nick Show,” and to the palliative care professionals from all the local major healthcare providers, who were being honored at the event.

Then the sailboat races got underway, with most guests departing for one of the 19 spectator boats, while others opted to watch the races and otherwise enjoy the afternoon at the club.

Along with about 15 others, I boarded Roger and Sarah Chrisman’s 80 ft. Offshore Yachts motor yacht Polaris II. From this elegant and comfortable yacht, guests enjoyed wine and food while watching the regatta, which drew 23 boats. Winners were Mocos skippered by Kent Pierce and Jon Bell, Blue Tango skippered by Peter Candy, and Namaste, skippered by Thomas Tunberg.

Guests also had a good viewing of the Memorial Boat Ceremony, which paid tribute to loved ones who have passed with the reading of their names.

After guests returned to the Club, the party continued with a buffet dinner and dining at tables in the sand, while Davitt Felder & Band provided great music. An awards ceremony concluded the splendid day.

In an interview, Board Chair Ben Phillips shared how VNA Health stands out for providing services equally to everyone through its generous commitment to charity care. Also, Phillips noted, VNA is a very well-run organization, with an amazing staff, including nurses who do their challenging jobs with grace and humility.

For its charity care, VNA draws in part on its Foundation, but the Foundation’s resources allow it to sustain benefits at the current level only for a limited time, according to Shah, necessitating ongoing fundraising efforts in the community.

Last year, VNA’s Home Health Program served 2,644 patients, and its Hospice Services — in home and at Serenity House — provided for 1,039 patients. Thousands more were served by the Palliative Care Program, Bereavement Program, Loan Closet, and other programs.

VNA Health always welcomes new volunteers, including for hospice (full training provided), music services (for those who play an instrument), Loan Closet (for those who like to fix things), pet therapy (owner/pet teams) and veterans’ program (for vet volunteers to connect with vet patients).

Event Co-Chairs Nick Sebastian and Francie Lufkin | Gail Arnold
VNA Health Boardmembers Eusebio Cordova, Alex Craigie, and Ben Phillips (Board Chair) | Gail Arnold
Spectator yacht Polaris II owners Roger and Sarah Chrisman | Gail Arnold
Teresa Koontz, John Koontz, Barbara Fabian, and Shawn Fabian | Gail Arnold
Gretchen Olenberger and Event Photographer Fritz Olenberger, celebrating their 51st anniversary | Gail Arnold


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