Cristal's Blog


November 6, 2023

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The idyllic California coastal oasis of Santa Barbara is home to one of the world’s most respected and effective medical and humanitarian relief organizations: Direct Relief, a nonprofit that embodies the principles of generosity and humanitarianism. Esteemed both locally and globally, this organization has left an indelible mark not only within the Santa Barbara community but also on the international stage, tirelessly dedicating itself to the mission of delivering crucial medical and disaster relief to communities in dire need.

Orange boxes of medical relief await shipping from the warehouse at Direct Relief headquarters in Santa Barbara
Photo courtesy of Direct Relief

A Legacy of Compassion

Since 1948, Direct Relief has served as a beacon of hope for individuals and communities enduring profound hardship. Its journey commenced with providing aid to postwar refugees in Eastern Europe and swiftly evolved to offer support to communities reeling from significant disasters. From its outset, Direct Relief has consistently delivered targeted assistance, embodying a tradition of life-saving aid that transcends boundaries of ethnicity, politics, religion, gender, or financial means. This unwavering commitment has remained a defining characteristic of the organization since its inception.

The Power of Voluntary Giving

As the website states, “Everything Direct Relief does, every person whose life is improved or saved, stems from an act of generosity that’s purely voluntary.” The essence of voluntary giving is at the heart of the nonprofit’s mission, and it's what sets them apart in the world of humanitarian organizations.

A person in an orange vest next to containers marked Emergency Medical Supplies
Photo courtesy of Direct Relief

Global Humanitarian Relief

Direct Relief's mission extends far beyond Santa Barbara's shores. Members work tirelessly to equip health professionals in resource-poor communities with the tools they need to diagnose and care for those in need. Their impact is felt in some of the most challenging and underserved regions around the world.

Natural Disaster Preparedness

Each day, Direct Relief diligently readies the world's most vulnerable communities to confront increasingly frequent and devastating emergencies. And when disaster strikes, whether it's an earthquake, a hurricane, or any other natural catastrophe, Direct Relief swiftly, adeptly, and efficiently springs into action, ensuring that essential medical resources reach their intended destinations to preserve lives. Direct Relief's actions are not only swift but also tailored directly to specific requests from local partners and are well-coordinated with other organizations and public agencies, optimizing the efficient allocation of resources. Direct Relief innovates a diverse array of products to address pressing needs before and after a disaster.

Ukraine Relief

Direct Relief's commitment to helping those in crisis is exemplified by their partnership with Ukraine's Ministry of Health and other on-the-ground partners. They are providing urgently needed medical aid, including emergency response packs for first responders, oxygen concentrators, critical care medicines, and more. In times of turmoil, Direct Relief is a beacon of hope and support.

Wildfire Relief

Direct Relief equips safety net providers and various responders worldwide with tailor-made wildfire kits, N95 masks, essential first aid resources, and vital medications. Through their emergency funding programs, they bolster community resilience, while their efforts in developing solar and resilient power solutions stand as a testament to their dedication to enduring recovery and sustainability.

A close-up of a doctor wearing an orange Direct Relief N95 surgical mask, surgical cap, and small headlamp
Photo courtesy of Direct Relief

Prioritizing Health

Those who lack access to adequate healthcare often encounter obstacles in sustaining employment, leading to financial struggles or prolonged poverty. In every possible circumstance, enhanced access to healthcare services emerges as a fundamental imperative. Direct Relief's ongoing strategy of strengthening locally operated healthcare facilities that provide essential services represents a crucial global approach, reaching across all 50 states in the United States and beyond. Furthermore, Direct Relief maintains its unwavering commitment to supporting healthcare providers worldwide as they tackle urgent health challenges within their respective communities.

Research and Analysis

Direct Relief's commitment to effectiveness and innovation is evident in their partnership with academic researchers. Their Research and Analysis team provides data-based tools that help governments and first responders make informed decisions about wildfires and other natural disasters.

In Santa Barbara, the spirit of giving finds a powerful champion in Direct Relief. Their work knows no bounds, reaching far-flung corners of the globe as well as supporting those in need in our own backyard. The organization is a shining example of how giving is good medicine, not just for the recipients of their aid but for the collective soul of our community and the world.

The next time you consider giving, remember Direct Relief and the extraordinary impact that voluntary generosity can have on the lives of countless individuals and communities. It’s one more reason to be a proud homeowner in one of Santa Barbara’s amazing communities. If you’re inspired to move here, give me a call at (805) 886-9378 or email me at

Of related interest:

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch