Helping children blossom
Graceful and delicate orchids represent perfection, love, and strength for many flower lovers around the world.
Westerlay Orchids, a Carpinteria-based flower company, demonstrates those qualities and more, as they raise funds for the nonprofit Carpinteria Education Foundation for the third consecutive year.
Westerlay’s first collaboration with the foundtion took place in 2017, when Westerlay Orchids donated more than $14,000 to the nonprofit. In 2018, the business boosted that number to almost $16,000. Its 2019 fundraising period begins today and continues until Sept. 6. Donations can be made from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. One hundred percent of the revenue that the business earns during this timespan will be donated to CEF to support art, music and other programs for students to develop their skills.
Westerlay Orchids was founded in 1978 by Joe and Lucy Overgaag, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands with their 6-year-old son, Toine. Fast forward 41 years, and the 6-year-old has grown to be about 6 feet tall. Toine Overgaag, now with the reins of the business in his hands, is the owner and president.
A fast talker who speaks without twists and turns, Mr. Overgaag was bursting with energy as he gave the News-Press a tour of the greenhouse that homes the orchids, the greenhouse that his father built four decades ago. This energy has propelled Mr. Overgaag all the way to the East Coast — where he studied economics and played lacrosse at Tufts University — and later on to Los Angeles — where he obtained his MBA from USC.
It was after he was USC-certified that his father called him up to ask for help. The flower firm at the time was selling roses and was feeling the heat from South American competition. The company then switched from Westerlay Roses to Westerlay Orchids, and it’s safe to say that the business is happy with the decision.
For the past several years, the Westerlay Orchids has grown considerably. Mr. Overgaag said the business, which earned just shy of $30 million in revenue last year, employs approximately 120 employees. Supporting these employees seems to be the main driver of the flower firm’s donation to the CEF.
“The local schools, the public schools, serve so many of our employees’ children,” said Mr. Overgaag. “That’s where they attend.”
CEF board President Casey Balch is grateful with Westerlay Orchids’ support.
“We’ve had a fantastic few years of support,” said Mr. Balch.
Westerlay Orchids’ fundraiser period leads up to CEF’s 27th annual fundraiser, Carp-a-Cabana. The adults-only event will pamper guests with a Havana Nights show, an elaborate dinner and flowing alcohol. Attendees will also be able to bid on a four-night stay at a private cabin in Big Bear, Disneyland tickets, Malibu Wine Safari Weekend, Santa Barbara International Film Festival Getaway, and a four-night New York City trip to see a Broadway show.
Presale tickets to the fundraiser — which will take place 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 7 at Carpinteria High School, 4810 Foothill Road — can be bought at Westerlay Orchids for $85 each. Tickets at the door will cost $100.