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VALLEY NEWS

Catching Up With Rona Barrett Her Passion Project for Seniors Breaks Ground in Santa Ynez

IN 1991 , entertainment TV trailblazer and household name Rona Barrett walked away from a three-decade career covering the happenings in Hollywood, retiring to her ranch in Santa Ynez Valley. “I wanted to live up on a mountain; I wanted to be able to see clear skies; I wanted to breathe fresh air,” explains Barrett. “I wanted to grow something.” And grow something she did—for more than a decade, Barrett’s ranch was covered in fragrant purple fields of lavender. “It was just exquisite! It was just beautiful,” she says of her former farm, where she produced a variety of products; her lavender applesauce was one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” Profits went to her Rona Barrett Foundation, which benefits seniors in need of housing, clothing or food. Barrett has long been a vocal advocate for the senior community. Her message is this: “Do you understand what’s happening in this country? We have a crisis here, a real crisis! Who’s going to handle our elderly as they age? Who’s going to feed them? Who’s going to care for them if they can’t do it themselves? What we need is a new form of affordable

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housing for seniors!” Then one day, it sadly hit home. Barrett’s elderly father questioned her crossly, “Who are you?” “I said, ‘Daddy, it’s Rona!’” “‘I don’t know any Rona! Get out of my house! Get out of my house!’” “I had to hold back my tears,” Barrett tenderly recalls. “That was the night that I got into bed with a big yellow notepad and on the top, I wrote ‘The Golden Inn & Cottages.’ That was the beginning of the real vision.” After many arduous years planning and fundraising, her dream is finally real. In April, the Golden Inn & Village broke ground on seven acres at the corner of Highway 246 and Refugio Road in Santa Ynez. Barrett partnered with the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara to build the valley’s first affordable senior housing and care development, nearly 150 units, designed by Barrett to resemble a bed and breakfast. “We believe Golden Inn & Village will be an example and a model for other campuses to be built, not only in our state, but also in other areas in our country,” she declares.

“Do you understand what’s happening in this country? We have a crisis here, a real crisis! Who’s going to handle our elderly as they age? Who’s going to feed them? Who’s going to care for them if they can’t do it themselves? What we need is a new form of affordable housing for seniors!” — RONA BARRET T

PHOTOS (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT): WENDY THIES SELL, COURTESY GOLDEN INN & VILLAGE (2)

BY WENDY THIES SELL

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Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Winter 2015/16  

Santa Barbara Seasons is a resource for locals and visitors alike with lush visuals, engaging features and invaluable information on events,...

Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine, Winter 2015/16  

Santa Barbara Seasons is a resource for locals and visitors alike with lush visuals, engaging features and invaluable information on events,...

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