Red Feather Ball

By Lynda Millner   |   October 31, 2019
United Way greeters with Patti and Bob Bryant
Co-chairs Shari Liu, Amber Ortiz, and Belle Hahn

United Way of Santa Barbara County presented its 23rd Red Feather Ball. Honorary Chair in perpetuity is Katherine Abercrombie (October 10, 1915 – September 15, 2012). In 1997 the Red Feather Ball was created by Katherine after hearing the story of the Red Feather and how it came to symbolize giving during the Depression Era Community Chest campaigns. She and husband Stewart co-chaired the event for the first three years. It was Katherine with her flair for style who suggested that the women wear red and the men wear red bow ties, and so it is today.

It’s always a stunning sea of red on the Coral Casino Oceanside terrace. Merryl Brown, event design extraordinaire, had photo ops with two gorgeous gal greeters who had fabulous head dresses of red flowers. Auction chair Rosemary Mutton arranged a “something for everyone” silent auction while guest sipped cocktails. 

Co-chairs Belle Hahn, Shari Liu, Amber Ortiz and their committee turned the ball room into a wonderland of red. Andrew Firestone was the emcee who introduced the honorary chair Merryl Snow Zegar and David Jackson from the Zegar Family Foundation. Board chair Rick Scott thanked the sponsors, especially the premier ones, Aera Energy and the Zegar Family Foundation. The event was 100 percent underwritten. United Way president and CEO Steve Ortiz told some of the great programs United Way promotes. Fun in the Sun offers a nurturing program for low-income children and their parents. It is a summer learning experience that dramatically improves reading, math, social and behavioral skills. Currently it involves over 80 service delivery partners, 25 funding partners and over 600 volunteer mentors. The program has been awarded the Excellence in Summer Learning Award by the National Summer Learning Association.

Amber and United Way President/CEO Steve Ortiz
Michael and Nati Smith with Ivana and Andrew Firestone at the Red Feather Ball

Then there is the United for Literacy program consisting of three program strategies. One is an early education that helps kindergarteners master basic academic literacy and social/emotional skills needed for success in school. Another is Dolly Parton’s imagination library. It provides a brand new, age appropriate book every month from birth to kindergarten to those registered. The third is an online literacy program with power reading and power math.

The United Way mission is “Right here, right now, with the Power of Partnership, we are improving lives for children, families, seniors and YOU!” Their vision: “In our community, everyone has a hopeful future.” If you would like to donate to help kids call United Way 805.965.8591 for information.


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