UWSBC President & CEO, Steve Ortiz, Maryan Schall, and Past Honoree Bob Montgomery
Thanks to generous donors and supporters, United Way of Santa Barbara County's (UWSBC) 21st Annual Red Feather Ball raised nearly $300,000, the most in event history. The funds will benefit the nonprofit’s award-winning Fun in the Sun summer learning program and United for Literacy initiative.
Held Oct. 6 at the Four Seasons Biltmore Coral Casino, the record-setting night saw committed philanthropists and admired leaders from throughout the community bidding in a silent auction and raising their paddles to pledge funds in support of the programs. In his first year as UWSBC President & CEO, Steve Ortiz thanked the crowd for the support, describing how far he has seen children come in a short time during Fun in the Sun and the importance of reading skills for young students.
“Every single year we see kids coming into kindergarten lacking the basic skills they need to be successful,” said Ortiz. “Some of them do not recognize shapes, colors and numbers. What’s shocking is that in some rare cases the 4- or 5-year-olds coming into our programs don’t recognize their own names. Thanks to your support every year, United Way and its partners provide the building blocks they need to be successful in school and life. Thank you for all that you have done.”
The evening served as a special recognition of Maryan Schall, who received the 2017 Abercrombie Community Excellence Award for her decades of outstanding service and generosity within the Santa Barbara community. Most recently, Schall approached United Way with a $35,000 challenge grant to help fully fund United Way’s Kindergarten Success Institutes. In addition to her generous donations, Schall volunteers her time, spending time with UWSBC students.
“Overall, I have to say that Maryan has a very kind heart, a brilliant mind and wonderful sense of humor,” said Ortiz. “We need more people like Maryan in our community.”
Attendees were also touched by the video story of Yessica Arroyo, who came to United Way’s Fun in the Sun program while falling behind in class. Her parents received a limited education, leaving her unable to ask them for academic help and feeling alone in her studies. Despite having early doubts about going onto college, Arroyo went onto graduate from UCLA in 2015 and today proudly works at UCSB and mentors United Way students.
“It was amazing being part of a program where I felt so empowered,” said Arroyo. “From the moment I was introduced to my leaders, I really felt like I could trust that these people were there, that I could speak to them about anything I was worried about. I knew that they cared.”
The black-tie gala featured wine, cocktails and music from the Los Angeles-area band The Spare Keys. Proceeds from the event – including sponsorships, underwriting, scholarship auction and silent auction -- support UWSBC’s national award-winning Fun in the Sun and United for Literacy programs, which make it possible for nearly 10,000 disadvantaged children and families in Santa Barbara County access to benefit from life-changing educational programs.
For more about United Way, visit unitedwaysb.org.
About United Way of Santa Barbara County: United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has the unique and positive vision that “in our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local non-profit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s local community driven Power of Partnership™ priorities help children, families & seniors with a focus on Education, Income and Health.
Thank you to our sponsors
Bob & Val Montgomery
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation
City National Bank
Kayne Anderson Rudnick Wealth Management
Montecito Bank & Trust
Bank of America
John & Susan Hanna
Santa Barbara City College Foundation
Santa Barbara Cancer Foundation
Paul and Bobbi Didier
Bob and Christine Emmons
Charles & Vera Fenzi
Forster Group at Morgan Stanley
Kevin and Ilda Nelson
Zegar Family Foundation
Brave & Maiden Estate, Jason & Holly Djang
Ground Effect Wine, John Kochis