On a delightfully warm Tuesday evening (July 19), about 150 guests gathered at the Santa Barbara Yacht Club for a cocktail reception to thank those who have already signed on as supporters of the upcoming Charity Regatta. Guests included Santa Barbara Yacht Club members, event sponsors, veteran celebrity skippers, and Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care (VNHC) staff. Over the past 12 years, the event has raised over $1 million for VNHC.
Founded in 1908, VNHC offers comprehensive home health, hospice, and related services. Thanks to fundraising efforts such as 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 was able to provide $2.1 million worth of assistance to the community through its charity care and community outreach programs.
After an extended cocktail hour on the picturesque deck and inside the Yacht Club dining room, retired police officer David Gonzales began the program by beautifully singing the national anthem. Commodore Bob Young welcomed the crowd, and VNHC president and CEO Lynda Tanner expressed her deep appreciation to the Yacht Club for once again holding the Regatta for the benefit of Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care.
This year’s event will be honoring veterans. In light of this, VNHC boardmember Brian Smith shared his profoundly rewarding experience as a volunteer in VNHC’s Veteran to Veteran Volunteer Program. Under this program, trained veteran hospice volunteers are matched with veterans in hospice care.
Operated under the national We Honor Veterans program, it capitalizes on the special ability that veterans have to relate to fellow veterans. Through a volunteer’s compassionate listening, veterans find relief from emotional isolation and release from traumatic life experiences. The veteran link fosters a special compassion. As Smith, a Fourth Infantry Division Vietnam veteran shared, “the bond between those who have worn the uniform is even stronger than Krazy Glue.”
This year, VNHC is expected to provide hospice services to 100 new veteran patients.
Jean Smith, wife of the late Homer Smith who was being honored that evening, shared her gratitude for VNHC. Homer, a Yacht Club member and a Vietnam veteran, was himself a volunteer in the Vet to Vet program before being on the receiving end of the program. She noted how meaningful Vet to Vet was to him, first as a volunteer and then as a patient. “We all like to go down memory lane” she noted, “and they had special links on memory lane.” Speaking more generally about the care VNHC provides, Smith spoke from the heart in saying that they “know how to care in a meaningful way, and they do it so well.”
The Regatta, to be held on September 10, is open to everyone. There will be sailboat racing and spectator boat rides followed by a barbecue dinner with live music. For information on the event, go to vnhcsb.org/regatta. For more information about VNHC, go to vnhcsb.org.