For those of you who have not had the pleasure of visiting Elings Park, the largest privately funded park in the United States, you are in for a treat. In addition to this year’s Glow in the Park and tethered hot air balloon ride experience, a silent and live auction, and U2 Tribute Show by Hollywood U2, the 40 year old, 230 acre park host numerous activities such as, hang-gliding, weddings, summer camps, tennis, biking, hiking and houses a luscious green foliage and more. We felt loved as if we were a part of a huge global energy that is truly worthy of the time and the care, given it. The fine buffeted cocktail reception gourmet cuisine was to die for while the presenters DWW (Doctors Without Walls) offered their love and charitable arms to the local community of Santa Barbara and guest. We had a chance to interview, Maria Long, Executive Director, of Santa Barbara’s Doctors Without Walls and Santa Barbara Street Medicine. Seven years ago, the organization began providing free medical services year round as well as in the midst of disaster. Supported by local community sponsors, local doctors, nurses, paid student interns and social workers DWW and SBSM extend their hospitality by gifting personalized education and training for those who wish to fully express their talent, their humanity and want to continue in the field of medicine. Maria Long, alongside Medical Director, Dr. Jason Prystowski and a staff of 7 help to make this all happen. The group consists of Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Father Jon Stephen Hedges, Vice President, Medical Director of Street Teams, Dr. Laura Polito, President, Paul Jaconette, Mike Lazaro, Carp Events and Balloonist Julian Nott. Together they created a haven of safety and gathered credible experts to enhance the Santa Barbara county program’s vast outreach.
In 2015 there were 1,757 encounters involving patients of whom 80% have at risk and problematic disease that could cause sudden death. As DWW and SBSM continued to support those diagnosed, opportunities arose to extend and deepen outreach throughout Santa Barbara County touching and changing the lives of the most severe cases. It is within this need that the idea of a mobile van and activities that serve to reduce emergency room visits came about. Maria coming from humble beginnings started as a volunteer intern and continued to develop her sense of humanity. Interning at CASA, (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) gave her the necessary background wherein she developed skills to carry out such, an endearing and necessary mission. This provided efficient means to service the Santa Barbara area. Maria’s fashion industry knowledge and ingenuity of imaging eventually gave way to her career with DWW and SBSM. Maria along with a team effort consisting of three family physicians, Mark Stinson, MD, Sabina Diehr, MD and Naomi “Mimi” Doohan an MD, PHD, DWW, SBSM received their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and have developed and extensive county wide program since its inception.
Her story of how Doctors Without Walls and Santa Barbara Street Medicine came to be is a compelling one and in a short amount of time Maria and DWW/SBSM have managed to accomplish what others merely talk about.
As to plans for the future of Glow in the Park Maria says that there is an even bigger desire to continue outreach to the Santa Barbara County and the mobile unit has proved to be highly conducive to supporting the mission of DWW and SBSM. For those who want to know more about Glow in the Park here is a bit of information about hot air balloons. Hot air balloons can hold up to 30 passengers however a more personalized limit is a maximum of four to eight passengers. They vary in both envelope and basket size. The weight of the balloon is affected by the ambient temperature around the balloon and at what altitude it is flying. Before a flight, the pilot uses the passenger’s weight to decide how many people can go in each basket. Weight limitations can vary from one commercial company to another. For Elings Glow in the Park and for all who are courageous enough to fly colorful tethered balloons will be going up, up and away for many years to come.
For more information on DWW ( Doctors Without Walls) and SBSM ( Santa Barbara Street Medicine) contact www.santabarbarastreetmedicine.org, www.sbdww.org, www.doctorswithoutborders.org, www.sbglowinthepark.org.