SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Hospice of Santa Barbara (HSB) honored a trio of individuals and organizations Wednesday during its 5th annual Heroes of Hospice of Santa Barbara awards ceremony.
Nearly 300 people came together to honor The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, The Dream Foundation's Flower Empower Program and Charles Zimmer, former Executive Director of HSB.
Hospice of Santa Barbara started 40 years ago in a small house on Carrillo Boulevard. Today, its headquarters are based off Alameda Padre Serra on The Riviera with a staff of more than 30. The volunteer hospice organization provides professional counseling, support groups and patient care services to those grieving the loss of a loved one or experiencing the impact of a serious or life-threatening illness.
The Heroes of Hospice of Santa Barbara awards honor the people and organizations that bring compassion and care, at all levels, to those in need in and near the Santa Barbara community.
Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree accepted the Partnership Award on behalf of The Ridley-Tree Cancer Center, which opened last week. After a years-long effort, the new facility brings all oncology services for the Santa Barbara community under one roof.
Ridley-Tree received a standing ovation from the audience, saying it was "a joy and a privilege" to accept the honor on behalf of the staff sitting before her. She also told the audience she hoped they'd never have to use the cancer facility.
"We have a lot going on and the fact that we have the opportunity amongst the community to be recognized by them at this time means more than words can describe," said Matt Kunkel, Vice President of Oncology Services at Ridley-Tree Cancer Center at Sansum.
Kisa Heyer and Valerie Banks received HSB's Volunteer Award for the Dream Foundation's Flower Empower Program, which has delivered more than 100,000 floral bouquets to hospital patients, as well as fresh-baked cookies, chocolates and cards handmade by local school children.
"It is such a simple gift to give someone and has such an incredible impact," Heyer told NewsChannel 3. "Studies show patients recover much quicker, patients that have flowers in their rooms in hospitals."
HSB's third honor, the Legacy Award, was handed to Charles Zimmer, a previous executive director who launched HSB back in the late 70's.
"Loving, compassionate care freely given is the motto," Zimmer told NewsChannel 3. "From the earliest youngsters up through us oldsters. It's just perfect for what the need is in the community."
Hospice of Santa Barbara is the recipient of numerous awards under the current direction of Chief Executive Officer David Selberg.