Santa Maria Times: Rona Barrett shines at glamorous Golden Inn & Village benefit


The main hall in the Solvang Veterans Memorial Building never looked so glamorous as on Saturday when it was taken over for a fundraiser for the Rona Barrett Foundation Golden Inn & Village (GIV). The celebration doubled as Barrett’s 80th birthday party.

More than 16 years in the works, GIV is the first affordable senior housing in the Santa Ynez Valley. The first residents are expected to move in during the coming weeks.

Approximately 250 guests attended the event. Many dressed in 1940s-style attire, a favorite of the hostess for her “Age of Octogenarius” bash. The theme was carried through in the entertainment: the Harry James Orchestra directed by Fred Radke and the Ole Skool Crew, RHE, a dance troupe with an Andrew Sisters vibe.

A white chiffon cake decorated with red roses, a gift from the Solvang Bakery, was presented to Barrett by her board members while the orchestra played and the entire room sang along to “Happy Birthday.”

Except for that moment, Barrett, accompanied by her husband, Daniel Busby, was adamant about not making the evening about her. She spoke of her late father, Harry, as her inspiration for the project, and of the many seniors in need she’s met along the way, and she graciously thanked her foundation’s board members and donors.

Santa Maria banker Jim Glines led a spirited live auction that raised more than $50,000.

Barrett also reminded everyone that more giving is still needed to fund the next phase of GIV’s development, assisted living and memory care communities.