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The Adventures in Caring Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)3, voluntary health organization, based in Santa Barbara, California. Its mission is to lift the spirit and evoke the will to heal in those who are sick and lonely, and to establish a culture of compassion in health care.
A team of one hundred volunteers, ages 16 to 86 visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes, every week, all year round. A board of directors, committee members, advisors, and auxiliary volunteers also work behind the scenes to move the mission forward. If you live in the Santa Barbara area, you have probably seen someone in a red wig and striped socks walking into one of the local hospitals or nursing homes. Volunteer visitors dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy have been a feature of health care in Santa Barbara for more than twenty years. What you may not know is that under the wig and the makeup is a highly skilled listener with special training in how to interact with patients to promote healing, recovery and emotional well-being. While Raggedy volunteers come from all walks of life, many of them are pre-med and pre-health profession students from UCSB and other local colleges. In a three-day training session provided by Adventures in Caring, these future doctors, dentists, nurses and health care practitioners learn how to communicate and focus on the patient's interests, letting the patient be the center of attention. They also learn how to understand emotional needs and appreciate abilities rather than disabilities.