SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Hundreds of people witnessed a highly emotional, unexpected moment last weekend in Santa Barbara at a fundraising event for Storyteller at the California Hotel.
It involved three people drawn together to help some of the most vulnerable children in our community.
"I couldn't hold it in. I just started crying," Pedro De La Cruz told our reporter Beth Farnsworth.
"I've never seen a room of 300 people ... just silence ... and then this uproar of applause," Donna Barranco Fisher said. "And Pedro was crying and I was crying."
Fisher, executive director at Storyteller, and Cruz, a Santa Barbara artist, both referred to the moment Cruz watched one of his donated Indian ink artworks fetch $100,000.00 dollars at auction during the fundraising gala.
The winning bid came from Earl Minnis of Santa Barbara.
"The art piece that I saw struck me," Minnis said.
Minnis told Farnsworth that he planned to make a donation in that amount, in honor of his friend, Fisher, and her work at Storyteller, a non-profit devoted to helping homeless families and their young children.
Cruz's artwork sealed the deal.
Cruz said days before the event, his wife, an employee at Storyteller, asked if he'd be willing to donate one of his paintings or sketches for the gala.
"I found this drawing of a man holding a cute dog," Cruz said. "I was like, 'Here, take this to Donna.'"
"It was like a dream," Cruz said. "I didn't really know how to take it. It was just too many zeroes. I was like, 'Wait! What?!'"
"I was crying because, you know, because what this means to Storyteller," Fisher said. "We've been here for 30 years providing services for at-risk youth and our homeless children in our community."
Storyteller is a lifeline for local homeless children between the ages of 18 months and five years and their families. Poverty, toxic trauma and abuse once gripped many of these kids. The non-profit serves as a sanctuary, giving families a second chance, helping them break the cycle of poverty.
"This will allow us to do the wonderful work that we do," Fisher said.
Fisher's devotion, combined with Minnis' generosity and Cruz's healing art will help change little lives in big ways from that one emotional moment.
"It's about giving, really," Cruz said. "It's giving without expectations. In this case, I was surprised, I had no expectations -- I gave the drawing and showed up and that magic moment happened. It was beautiful."
"It was a good evening for all and for a great cause," Minnis said.
Click here for more information about Storyteller: https://www.storytellercenter.org/
Click here for more information about Pedro De La Cruz and his artwork: https://www.pedrodelacruz-artist.com/