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Neighborhood Series: CALM

Lori Lander Goodman, Chief Development Officer (center)

“Vibrant neighborhoods create vibrant communities, and vibrant communities are the foundation for a more resilient and democratic society - we here at the Santa Barbara Foundation could not be more proud to support our neighborhoods.” – Ron Gallo, President & CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation

For many years, the Santa Barbara Foundation has supported our neighbor Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM) because we know the experienced staff and the critical services they provide to the community. In 1969, founder Claire Miles, a local nurse who learned that an overworked and emotionally stressed father had shaken his infant son to death, decided to take action and set up a phone line urging parents in need to call for help. Since then, CALM has provided families with prevention and intervention services to reduce child abuse across Santa Barbara County. At the Santa Barbara Foundation, we know how important CALM is to our neighborhood. However, being just two blocks away, we wanted to know, what does this neighborhood mean to CALM?

“To me, neighborhood means having a sense of community,” said Chief Executive Officer, Alana Walczak. “It is a weaving of different people, agencies and businesses coming together to form a vibrant, diverse and hopefully safe community.”

CALM became part of the neighborhood in 1988 when they moved into a former Baptist church on 1236 Chapala Street. This location is extremely important to CALM’s mission because it falls along the central corridor of Santa Barbara, not on the Eastside or Westside, meaning that it is in a neutral location as it pertains to known areas of gang violence. This makes it accessible to a wide range of individuals and allows it to be a safe space for people to come for help.

“We want to be a hub for people that we serve and a safe refuge for families,” said Walczak. “This means being somewhere easily accessible by public transportation and being in a location where those that we serve feel the most comfortable.”

In addition to being in an accessible location for its clients, CALM’s location in a former church also elicits a sense of calm and healing to those who enter its doors.

“We left a lot of the infrastructure the way that it was because when you are in the rooms and walking around the building, you can still feel that sense of sanctuary and peace that you feel in a church,” said Chief Development Officer, Lori Lander Goodman. “We want those we serve to be able to find that sense of peace.”

Those served by CALM are not the only ones that benefit from its location. Due to its centralized spot, at least three employees walk to work and many of the staff can easily make home visits as part of the Front Porch program, which allows staff to meet families where they are at, address the root causes of stress, and build upon the family’s inherent strengths.

“Through programs like the Front Porch program, we are able to go beyond working with just the children and wrap our arms around the whole family to provide the necessary supports and uncover the reasons behind trauma or neglect,” said Walczak. “I believe childhood trauma is a root cause for a lot of other ills plaguing our community and, if we can reduce that, we can solve a lot of other issues as well.”

CALM also benefits from having many of funding partners, such as the Hutton Parker Foundation, the Fund for Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara Foundation, among others, so close by. Walczak has already thought about organizing a happy hour for colleagues at these organizations, and others, such as the Community Environmental Council, at another neighborhood “favorite” Armada Wine and Beer Merchant.

“There are so many funders, arts organizations, an environmental organization and other social service nonprofits all adjacent to one parking lot,” said Walczak. “I think this diversity in issue areas speaks a lot to the diversity and vibrant nonprofit spirit of the neighborhood.”

One example of a relationship that CALM never thought it would is in its neighbor the Ensemble Theatre Company. The New Vic Theatre literally shares a common wall with CALM and also shares CALM’s courtyard for use during theatre performances and receptions. Although very different in mission, the two organizations have had an opportunity to partner in ways that would not exist if they were not neighbors. This is how many great ideas that better the community can start.

“Personally, being part of a neighborhood means being part of a community. Building community means having an obligation to one another - to listen, be open, pay attention and to care,” said Goodman. “Fulfilling that obligation can lead to more innovation, more inspiration and more good than anyone ever expected.”

Stay tuned for the next Neighborhood Series as we continue the conversation with a collaborator of CALM’s, the Ensemble Theatre Company, and learn about what being in this neighborhood means to them.
North County Headquarters:  (805) 346-6123  |   2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
South County Headquarters:  (805) 963-1873  |  1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101