For the first time since 2019, the Friendship Center will host its Wine Down.
The 10th annual event will take place 4-7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the center, 89 Eucalyptus Lane, Montecito.
The Wine Down will feature tastings of wine, beer and coffee from more than 10 local businesses.
“It’s so exciting to actually gather again,” Heidi Holly, executive director at the Friendship Center, told the News-Press. “We are fortunate to have a beautiful courtyard in Montecito and do some wine tasting and just be together with supporters and families and raise some dollars for a good cause.
“The wine down is a chance to enjoy this casual event with supporters,” she said. “We will have a delightful evening with wine and beer and fellowship and camaraderie.”
Participating beverage purveyors include: Buttonwood Farm Winery, Roblar Winery, Draughtsmen Aleworks, Fess Parker Winery, Summerland Winery, Sunstone Winery, Folded Hills, Kalyra Winery, Brander Winery and Montecito Gourmet Coffee & Wine. Guests will also enjoy hearty hors d’oeuvres and live music by Tony Ybarra’s Elementos Project, featuring vocalist Marisa Pasquini.
The Friendship Center provides day services for seniors.
The center’s mission is “two-fold in that we serve seniors on site, and caregivers get a break from challenges that they may have due to caregiving,” Ms. Holly said. “What the Friendship Center does is help seniors to live in a home-like setting as long as possible, deterring long-term care, which can be very costly.
“We work on affordability with families who are on one side, taking care of their aging parents while simultaneously taking care of their children. This is what we call the sandwich generation.” said Ms. Holly.
The News-Press asked Ms. Holly about the significance of the 10th anniversary. “Well it’s significant because since we have reopened our facility after 15 months of not serving our seniors on site,” she said. “We now have an opportunity to fundraise for a good cause.”
Ms. Holly said proceeds will go toward the LEAP program, funding a new passenger van for the center’s excursion program.
“Prior to reopening, we were doing virtual services for seniors,” she said. “But families and caregivers didn’t get the respite, which is the purpose of the program.”
Guests at the Sept. 8 event will have the opportunity to contribute much-needed funds by bidding on a silent auction of unique gift baskets and a live auction courtesy of auctioneer Steven Meade, radio personality of KJEE radio.
A portion of the proceeds from this event will support the Friendship Center’s LEAP (Life Enrichment Activity Program), providing music and movement sessions led by local entertainers and instructors who engage members in activities strengthening body, mind, and spirit.
Silent auction items will include: themed wine baskets, a holiday wine and hors d’oeuvres event for up to 10 people (donated by board of directors), staycation package, wine tour with tasting in Santa Ynez Valley for up to 4 people (compliments of Captain Jack’s Santa Barbara Tours) and more.
“Our team put this event together with event committee members as well as staff including Sophia Davis, development director and chair of the event committee, Kathy Marden,” said Ms. Holly. “We are also having a wine cork pull, where every guest who makes a donation of $30 wins a bottle of wine, as supplies last with a variety of wines including some of our wineries which will be represented.”
“We will probably have to have a very special toast. This is really significant because over the past 15 months and now over two years what we have experienced is that we are very resilient and that we have to support and lean on each other for support and guidance,” Ms. Holly said. “We will always be here for our families, seniors and caregivers, and that speaks to what we have done. We will do a big congratulations to what we have done …
“What is important during that time when seniors were isolating, coming together again enhances their cognition, and they get to be more social.”