Bread & Roses: Community Celebration of The FUND for Santa Barbara
By Cherish Clinton
Scores of community members gathered at Elings Park on Sunday for Bread & Roses, an event by The FUND for Santa Barbara.
The event is meant to bring people together to celebrate the work and spirit of the Central Coast's progressive community. The term "Bread and Roses" has its roots in a early 1900s labor strike and has since been used as a slogan for other movements where bread represents a living wage and roses refers to a worker's desire for respect. The FUND for Santa Barbara embodies this ideology by supporting grassroots activists and community organizations working for social, economic, environmental, and political change.
Guests were escorted to the entrance and greeted by several of The FUND's board members, one of them being edhat's very own contributor Mahil Senathirajah, where they provided all the information for the day. This year's event was co-hosted by community leaders and activists Chelsea Lancaster and Wendy Sims-Moten.
After checking in I was handed a glass of wine and made my way over to the food stations which did not disappoint. Food and drinks were provided by several fantastic local businesses. I was unable to try it all but my favorites were the empanadas from Opal Restaurant & Bar, the fried rice from Blue Owl, and the bulgogi meatballs from Secret Bao. I also had a delicious glass of Pinot Noir from the Lompoc based winery, Fiddlehead Cellars.
I was lucky enough to sit a table full of generous and friendly people including Suzanne Valery, who serves on the FUND's grant making committee, and longtime donors Charles and Jan Clouse. They discussed how they got involved with the nonprofit and how they focus on helping small businesses and organizations that help people and animals directly living in our community.
The speakers emphasized their goals to bring about change. Former Executive Director Geoff Green showed off his auctioneer chops and rallied the very generous crowd, especially with organizers continuing his claim to fame, a "one-clap" support when people are announced instead of tons of applause breaks.
This year's Nancy Alexander Founder's Award was presented to Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt. She is the president of the Santa Maria-Lompoc National Association For the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a member of the Death Penalty Focus Board of Directors, serves as Vice-Chair of Outreach on the board of Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN), chair of the Democratic Club of Santa Maria Valley Candidates and Endorsement committee and recently termed off The FUND's grantmaking committee where she served for 6 years.
Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt (courtesy photo)
She's also a former Chief Investigator in the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office and was the first African American woman in California to earn the title of Chief Investigator, a position she held from 1995 until she retired in 2016. As Chief Investigator, Lawanda assisted in the defense of several death penalty cases, an experience that cemented her opposition to the death penalty.
This indeed was a celebration of a coming together of a diverse group of people working very hard in tangible ways to bring about change for the betterment of this community. At the end of the event, attendees boogied down to DJ Suz and live band Mezcal Martini.
Job well done to The FUND for again hitting it out of the park and all it does for our community.
Staff of The FUND (courtesy photo)