Assistance League of Santa Barbara is the 10th of 117 chapters of National Assistance League, the first nonprofit, nonsectarian organization begun in the West to help those less fortunate. Our local story began in 1947 when a group of women joined together to form the Assistance League of Santa Barbara.
Meetings were first held at members’ homes and then at the Montecito Country Club. In 1952, the chapter rented a small house on Anacapa St. where the women sold a variety of goods, from homemade items, clothing and jewelry to furniture and baked goods.
In 1955 the Hunt-Stambach House, built 1880 by architect P.J. Barber for Col. Charles C. Hunt and later owned by Dr. Henry Stambach, was slated for demolition when members of Assistance League came to its rescue, saving a fine example of early local architecture. Meetings and luncheons were held there for ten years. The chapter moved to its present home in 1965.
The Assistance League of Santa Barbara has approximately 300 members, who volunteered over 34,000 hours last year to support and implement fourteen philanthropic programs. We are an all-volunteer organization with no executive director or paid staff, and the Board of Directors, which is comprised of the officers and committee chairmen, are elected annually. Nationally, 24,000 Assistance League members in 29 states donate over 2,000,000 volunteer hours each year.
The chapter’s auxiliary, Las Aletas (Little Wings), was formed in 1964 for the daughters and daughters-in-law of members, but soon opened the membership to all interested women. Members volunteer their time and talent to three philanthopic programs. Operation School Bell-Goleta serves students in the Goleta Union School District, the Kids on the Block puppet shows entertain and educate children, and Operation Book Shelf provides home bound individuals with reading and audio material. The members assist with Assistance League philanthropic programs and Assistance Shop staffing.
Assisteens, a national auxiliary formed in the 1930’s, provides teenagers with opportunities to serve those in need, develop a sense of responsibility and community spirit and learn leadership skills. Our chapter formed an Assisteens auxiliary in January, 2006, and the group’s enthusiastic boys and girls developed their own philanthropic and fundraising programs, as well as offering support to the chapter. The program provides an opportunity for members to complete community service hours required for graduation and the skills and experience they acquire reflect favorably on their college applications.