TVSB News & Press
Lauren Winnewisser, Co-Director of Development, Wilderness Youth Project
The Wilderness Youth Project has served the community for over 20 years, beginning as a community project and expanding as a school and summer camp. Through a personal mentorship system, WYP spends time with youth in nature, which is a “basic human necessity” and fosters “confidence, health, and a lifelong love of learning” (WYP website). The mentors meet with kids at their schools during the day, after school and summer, to which they would caravan over to destinations such as Santa Ynez River, Ellwood Beach, and San Marcos Foothills. The activities they do with their mentor are based on self-direction, curiosity and awareness, such as crafts, storytelling and gratitude circles. Students participate in the program over the course of a season to deepen their connection with their individual mentor. Staff and volunteers often hear of students who have never been to the beach and come back saying they had the “best day ever.” One of Winnewisser’s stand-out memories was during a eucalyptus forest excavation, when a group of children made a make-believe rollercoaster out of tree roots, and some students even began to “accept tickets,” others were narrating the event. Joy exuded out of the children simply by being out in nature, where their imagination and boundless energy took over.
Steven Sharpe, Executive Director, Food from the Heart
Food from the Heart serves healthy, nutritious food to those who are dealing with major illness, surgeries or failing health, are home bound and live alone. Steven Sharpe shared the nonprofit’s origin story of how Evelyn Jacob, who co-founded The New York Bagel Factory, Santa Barbara’s first bagel bakery, had sold her bagel business and began diverting her time into preparing meals for AIDS patients. As the AIDS population began to transition with the rise of medication, her clients broadened to individuals who were suffering from health conditions, living alone, homebound and oftentimes low-income. The organization now produces 156 bags of food per week and consists of two part-time staff and around 120 active volunteers. The service is free of charge to everyone who is fed. Every client is visited first by Kathy Denlinger, Treasurer, who assesses the individual’s situation and if they are in need of Food from the Heart’s services. If they are, she will provide them with a designated volunteer driver, who delivers their food every Wednesday and serves as a check-up on their health and living conditions as well as a friendly connection they look forward to seeing every week. A typical bag consists of an entree, baked casserole, a large salad with dressing, a deli salad, a small dessert, a bag of fresh fruit and a bag of freshly baked bread, and which is presented beautifully as “many patients have decreased appetites.” Each item provides for 2-4 servings and usually feeds one person for a week. Food from the Heart was successfully able to pivot during the pandemic by placing each volunteer at their own table six feet apart, mandating masks, and requiring handwashing and new gloves in between each item, even if just between carrots and potatoes. After 28 years of Food from the Heart serving the community, Sharpe reveals they have never missed a week of service because of how important it is to clients — even if difficulties arise, they will find a way.