Cristal's Blog


December 11, 2023

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'Tis the season for generosity, and what more meaningful way to embody the spirit of giving than by supporting charities dedicated to noble causes? This holiday season, I extend a heartfelt invitation for you to join me in spreading the genuine essence of Santa Barbara compassion not only within our local community but also across the nation. Let's make the most wonderful time of year truly special by contributing to causes that resonate with our shared commitment to making a positive difference.

Santa Barbara shoreline at sunset, with a row of palm trees, and with a semi-transparent heart superimposed.
Photo credit: Jennifer LeMay

Explore Charities Making a Difference

Supporting the work of nonprofits takes center stage at this time of year. Whether you're giving for yourself or donating to specific charities as thoughtful holiday gifts, your generosity can make a meaningful difference. To streamline your giving journey, I've compiled a list of some of my preferred nonprofits for your consideration. Each one is poised to make a significant impact with your valuable support.

A small sitting roomm at Casa Del Herrero, with a sparkling Christmas tree in front of a large window, flanked by oil portraits of the original owners

Casa Del Herrero

Anyone interested in architecture will want to support this 1920s house and museum. Crafted by the renowned architect George Washington Smith, the Casa stands as an exemplary showcase of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture within the United States. Equally impressive as the building are the Moorish-inspired gardens that grace the surroundings. The property and its dwelling hold the esteemed status of a National Historic Landmark and are acknowledged on the National Register of Historic Places. Th recognition is attributed, in part, to the captivating fusion of Country Place Era and Moorish-inspired gardens that grace the surroundings.

What They Do: When visitors come to Casa del Herrero, they are transported back to Montecito as it was in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, the 11-acre estate functions under the auspices of a nonprofit organization preserving the house and grounds. Initiatives encompass the preservation of the Steedman family's assemblage of fine and decorative art items dating back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, hailing from the distinguished "Golden Age" of Spain. This collection includes art objects, books, sketchbooks, drawings, and horticultural records.

What They Need: Financial support for the organization furthers its mission of preserving the historic estate. These donations assist in completing conservation projects and maintaining the garden spaces. Additionally, the Casa is looking for docents and garden volunteers.

Four female college graduates pose for a photo in their caps and gowns.

Santa Barbara City College Foundation

Since 1976, the SBCC Foundation has been a vital source of private philanthropic backing for Santa Barbara City College. As a Santa Barbara nonprofit organization, the Foundation serves as the vehicle through which individuals and organizations may invest in SBCC and its students.

What They Do: The SBCC Foundation provides Santa Barbara City College with private philanthropic support, awarding over $5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds, and other needs of the college and its students--including the SBCC Promise, which provides all recent local high school graduates the opportunity to attend SBCC full-time for two years at no cost.

What They Need: Donations of financial support for our community's college are greatly appreciated to continue the work on behalf of our future leaders.

Two Santa Barbara firefighters at a staging area, with firetrucks parked against a hill and smoke in the blue sky beyond the hill.
Photo credit: Mike Eliason


In the aftermath of the Thomas fire and mudslides that followed, this Santa Barbara nonprofit organization was formed to thank First Responders and show them how much their efforts were, and are, appreciated.

What They Do: One805 supports First Responders by funding emergency equipment and services. Donating is the perfect way to support our local fire, police, and sheriff’s department through your holiday giving by helping to purchase the much-needed high-tech and safety equipment that is out of budget, as well as vital counseling services.

What They Need: Santa Barbara individuals and businesses are invited to become One805 members and be an ongoing part of the First Responders community by providing financial assistance.

A female volunteer at Care 4Paws holding two small dogs.


Anyone who knows me is aware of my love of animals. That’s why I appreciate the work of C.A.R.E.4Paws, an organization dedicated to reducing pet overpopulation, keeping animals out of shelters, and improving quality of life for pet families in need on the Central Coast.

What They Do: This local charity began with a mission to serve in Santa Barbara County's most underserved communities, expanding to San Luis Obispo County in 2022. The organization promotes animal welfare and assists low-income, senior, disabled, and homeless pet owners with critical pet wellness services. This includes free spays/neuters, low-cost vaccine clinics, affordable veterinary care, and pet food delivery. There is also a youth program and a bilingual community outreach that creates awareness around critical pet care and resources available to families in need.

What They Need: This organization raises funds to assist more low-income, senior, and homeless community members. Your holiday giving donation will help keep animals happy, healthy, and with their families for life.


Right now, around 85 million people worldwide have been displaced by natural disasters and conflict. ShelterBox is working to change this.

What They Do: ShelterBox strives for a world where no family is left without shelter after disaster strikes. They do this by assisting in the immediate response and recovery phase of a disaster by providing families with customized emergency shelter, tools, and essential items to help them rebuild their lives.

What They Need: Donations to ShelterBox can transform the lives of families who have survived a natural disaster or conflict. Your monetary donation will help the organization provide emergency shelter and tools for displaced families.

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission

The commitment of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission lies in providing physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual resources to individuals facing challenges related to homelessness and addiction.

What They Do: Since 1965, this local charity has been providing immediate help in the form of food and shelter 365 nights a year to those with no place else to go. Toward this goal, SBRM offers a 12-month residential recovery program for men and women desiring to break free from cycles of addiction, poverty, homelessness, and crime.

What They Need: Financial support will help provide security and hope as homelessness, crime and addiction continue to rise.

All these wonderful Santa Barbara nonprofit organizations point to the value of Santa Barbara and Montecito residents and their generosity over the years. That compassion and empathy are additional reasons why living here is a gift. For more nonprofit organizations that could use your help, check out the new 2024 Santa Barbara Giving List book from the Montecito Journal.

These, and other nonprofit organizations in and around Santa Barbara indicate the strength of “community”: a significant factor in why we live here. If you are considering moving to or within the Santa Barbara community, remember there are many home buyers, even during the holidays. Therefore, it’s imperative to have an experienced Realtor on your side. Call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at, and I'll happily add your home to my portfolio of fine properties while I find you the perfect residence for you and your family. I can handle the entire process, leaving you time to enjoy the season and concentrate on your holiday giving to any of these worthy nonprofit organizations.

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