Rona Barrett Makes Appearance at Women’s Fund Grants in Action Forum

Former actress and current philanthropist Rona Barrett made a special guest appearance at The Women’s Fund Grants in Action Educational Forum “Aging in Place Santa Barbara: Obstacles and Opportunities”  on December 8, 2020. The virtual event was attended by more than 200 members and guests. Ms. Barrett’s personal life story and experiences addressing the needs of aging seniors perfectly encapsulated the key messages of two agency leaders and an academic expert who spoke about strategies for healthy aging and how communities can support their seniors, as well as obstacles to aging in place.

In 2000, recognizing the oncoming exponential growth in the aging population and that communities and the nation were not prepared to meet their needs for affordable housing and adequate programs and services assuring health, wellness, and safety, Ms. Barrett created the Rona Barrett Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization. The Foundation built the Golden Inn & Village in Santa Ynez to provide tangible solutions to address the growing need for affordable senior housing and assistance with daily needs.

With similar goals in mind, The Women’s Fund granted a total of $180,000 in May 2020 to two local agencies to expand services for eligible seniors and disabled people. Grantees from these agencies -- Chris Tucker, Executive Director, Garden Court; and Ernesto Paredes, Executive Director, Easy Lift Transportation -- presented examples of how these two agencies are serving our community and utilizing the grant funding they received.

  • 2nd Story Associates - Housing Authority of Santa Barbara - received $100,000 to provide case management and health support team for 500 low-income seniors living in four HACSB communities including Garden Court and Gardens on Hope.   
  • Easy Lift Transportation – received $80,000 to establish greatly needed same-day transportation services for eligible seniors and individuals with physical or mental challenges.

The event started with a keynote presentation by Caroline Cicero, Ph.D., Associate Professor at USC Davis School of Gerontology, who provided a national and regional overview of our senior population. She shared new models for healthy living being used that show great promise. These three speakers participated in a panel discussion.

Linda Stafford Burrows, Major Events Chair, served as moderator and provided statistics about seniors and the increasing need for services to meet the needs of the growing aging population in Santa Barbara County. If you missed it, you can watch the replay here.

Kerry Parker, Communications Committee


Women's Fund Newsletter December 2020