Women United Host 2nd Classic Storybook Luncheon

UWSBC “Little Women” Volunteer Greeters

By Bonnie Carroll

Women United, an affinity group of United Way of Santa Barbara County, hosted their second annual Classic Storybook Luncheon on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at the Four Seasons Resort, Coral Casino, The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

This year’s theme book, Little Women, was the 2019 Women United Book Club selection and guests were greeted by members in period costumes with lovely period touches on the luncheon tables. A lovely costume was also worn by Andria Kahmann, Women United Leadership Team & Founding Member who chaired the 2nd annual event and openedand closed the luncheon program. It was a perfect day for the auction on the patio of Coral Casino, where guests enjoyed beverages while bidding on a bevy of delightful items collected to benefit United Way Women United of Santa Barbara County.

Michelle Branch, Luncheon Keynote Speaker

The luncheon guest speaker Michelle Branch, Principal and Founder of the Branch Law Group and Chair of the Women United Global Leadership Council, focused on the impact, women can have on their community based on opportunity and the choices they make. She shared the important choices her own mother made to continue her education whichproviding inspiration to her to always keep going and the powerful impact this lesson in education had on her. Today Michelle Branch has earned a treasure trove of degrees and honors that is very impressive.

Michelle commended United Way Santa Barbara for the fine work they have done as advocates for children’s literacy as well as other programs. As a strong advocate for community advocacy and philanthropy, Branch serves as a board member with United Way Bay Area and Chair of the Women United Global Leadership Council, which is a formal advisory body mobilizing women leaders to build stronger communities.

Casie Killgore, a native Santa Barbara woman, who is currently the the principal of Franklin School and began working at the community school when she was 28 following education at Notre Dame de Namur University where she played basketball and majored in Business with the intention to take over her mother’s CPA firm. Her volunteer work helping to educate farmworker children inspired her to receive a Teaching Credential and Master in Education Administration at Universidad de Guadalajara. She then returned to Santa Barbara to teach PE and sixth grade prior to becoming Assistant Principal at Peabody Charter.

Andria Kahmann, Event Chair

Casie shared the importance of working with community partners like United Way and the success that it can provide. The litany of educational and personal success stories she shared on students she had worked with was Impressive and confirms her belief in the importance of working with United Way. Over the years, Franklin School has been awarded 2010 (Silver) and 2011 (Gold) State of California Governors Activity Award, 2016 California Gold Ribbon, 2016 Title One Academic Achievement, and 2020 California Distinguished School Award. Casie has personally been recognized by Santa Barbara Independent Local Hero, United Way Outstanding Partner and by many government officials.

The proceeds from the Women United Luncheon supports United Way’s educational programs and partnerships, such as Kindergarten Success Institutes, which ensure kindergartners start school ready to succeed, and Fun in the Sun, which provides high-quality summer learning experiences to keep at-risk youth engaged during the summer months.

Through fundraising, volunteerism and advocacy, Women United focuses on expanding United Way’s educational opportunities to ensure that more underserved children and families succeed during crucial early elementary school years and beyond. Women United mobilizes a powerful leadership network of women to strengthen the Santa Barbara community. Women United focuses on expanding United Way’s early educational opportunities for local children from pre-K through third grade.

In 2019, 200 luncheon attendees helped fund the early education programs in Santa Barbara County. Because of Women United support participants in the Kindergarten Success Institutes improved their academic skills by 68% and their social/emotional skills by 69%. Part of a national network of over 75,000 women in 165 communities, Women United mobilizes a powerful leadership network of women to strengthen Santa Barbara County.

2020 Classic Storybook Luncheon sponsors included Aera Energy, American Riviera Bank, Bryant & Sons Ltd, City National Bank, ExxonMobil, Rosemary Mutton, and Union Bank, as well as event underwriters: Bobbi Didier, Clearwater at Riverpark, Betty Noling, Success Reach LTD, and UCSB. For information visit www.unitedwaysb.org/storybookluncheon

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.


Written by Bonnie Carroll

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