CADA Announces Annual Mentor Program Gratitude Luncheon Featuring Celebrity Guest Speaker Rona Barrett

CADA Announces Annual Mentor Program Gratitude Luncheon Featuring Celebrity Guest Speaker Rona Barrett  title=
CADA Announces Annual Mentor Program Gratitude Luncheon Featuring Celebrity Guest Speaker Rona Barrett
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Event Date: 
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 12:30

The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA) will hold the annual Gratitude Luncheon celebrating its Mentor Program on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. This virtual event will feature pioneering entertainment reporter Rona Barrett speaking about the power of mentoring, and special musical guests Michael McDonald and Teen Star 2020 winner Andie Bronstad, hosted by Founder and Event Chair Anne Smith Towbes. 

Free event registration, sponsorship and donation information can be found at Attendees can also donate in honor of a mentor in their life, whose name and photo can be shared on the event website and during the event.  

About the Mentor Program
Now in its 17th year, the Mentor Program matches Santa Barbara County youth enrolled in third through eighth grade with caring adult mentors. Mentees are referred to CADA by school counselors and psychologists who have identified at-risk behaviors that can result in poor academic studies, social difficulties, and association with negative influences. Despite the constraints of the pandemic, the program is approaching 100 current mentor-mentee matches, many of which will continue beyond high school graduation and become life-long friendships. In July 2020, CADA welcomed 22 mentor/mentee matches from Family Service Agency’s former Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  

According to CADA’s Executive Director, Scott Whiteley, Ph.D., “Having a mentor – particularly in such a challenging environment – can be a life-changing experience.  The Mentor Program continues to evolve and find innovative ways to thrive. However, the need for mentors is rapidly growing, as more local youth and their families struggle with the ripple effect of challenges posed by the pandemic. Having a concerned, connected adult to spend time with can help a young person learn to avoid risky behaviors, develop critical self-improvement skills, and create achievable short and long-term goals.” 

The Penny Jenkins Mentor Champion Award
Each year, CADA presents the “Penny Jenkins Mentor Champion Award” to one special mentor in honor of Ms. Jenkins’ decades of service as CADA’s leader and her continued passionate advocacy of the Mentor Program. The 2021 Mentor of the Year is long-time Santa Barbara resident Bob Kingston, who has been a member of CADA’s Mentor Task Force and a mentor for the past five years. He and his mentee came to CADA’s Mentor Program in 2020 from Family Service Agency’s former Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

With a degree from San Diego State, Mr. Kingston’s full and varied career spanned local business and industry, including the opening of Santa Barbara’s famous Chart House Restaurant. He founded and operated highly regarded All Around Landscape Supply in Carpinteria for over 20 years. Mr. Kingston married his high school sweetheart Linda in 1970, and the couple have two adopted sons, Blake and Todd, and grandson Levi. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Kingston is a natural athlete and avid sports enthusiast, having originally come to California as a young boy when his father followed the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958. 

Mr. Kingston first learned the importance of helping others from his mother, whose work with teen moms was groundbreaking in 1960’s Santa Barbara. With a self-proclaimed “attitude of gratitude” for his own full and good life, Mr. Kingston – whose optimism is infectious – has always been passionate about making time to help kids validate who they are and discover what they can achieve. Today, he and his 16-year-old mentee Manny are exploring life’s many possibilities with stops along the way for Taco Bell fare and lots of hours of fishing. When asked why being a mentor is such an important part of his life, Mr. Kingston is quick to reply, “That’s easy. It’s the smile on Manny’s face every time I pull in the driveway to pick him up,” he confirms. “That’s what this is all about.”    

About Rona Barrett
Ms. Barrett is a pioneering entertainment reporter, commentator and producer with a career spanning 35 years. She began her groundbreaking work at age 13, and her early efforts included helping launch the careers of Eddie Fisher and Steve Lawrence. Her role in inaugurating Good Morning America blazed the trail for entertainment reporting and for women in the media industry. She is Founder & CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation, catalyst behind the Golden Inn & Village in Santa Ynez, an affordable housing and wellness services campus for low-income seniors. Her bi-weekly column and recent book, Gray Matters, highlight the day-to-day issues confronting seniors and the loved ones who care for them. 

About the Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse (CADA)
For over 70 years, CADA has delivered a broad range of effective programs and services focused on educating, preventing, and treating substance abuse and co-occurring conditions affecting youth, adults, and families in Santa Barbara County. CADA works in close partnership with local schools, law enforcement, health care organizations, businesses, other nonprofits, and the media. CADA services are available to anyone impacted by alcohol, drugs, or mental health concerns, without regard to gender, gender preference, age, race, ethnicity, or national origin. For more information, visit      

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