Holiday Home Tours Open Doors for Local Charities 6

With Christmas just around the corner, two nonprofit organizations are once again presenting holiday home tours showcasing elaborately decorated private residences and more with the overall goal to raise money for local efforts.

The Meadowlark Service League and Cancer Support Community are both offering home tours this year in which proceeds will benefit important causes. For instance, money raised through the Meadowlark Service League’s home tours will benefit FOOD Share as well as local Veteran’s organizations, while funds raised through the Cancer Support Community’s home tours will help ensure free programming for people with cancer and their loved ones.

Here’s a glimpse of a few special details about both of these nonprofit organizations and their home tours.

Meadowlark Service League

The Meadowlark Service League is a group of local women volunteers that focus on fundraising for important causes in the community. The organization of about 40 women includes all ages, from active young mothers to grandmothers.

The Meadowlark Service League’s Homes for the Holidays 39th Annual Charity Event will take place on Dec. 10. This event features a Home Tour & Red Barn Holiday Boutique. The home tour features residences that are “dressed for the holidays”—plus shopping and refreshments at the Camarillo Ranch House Barn.

“It is a very special event because it comes early on the second Sunday in December and helps us all begin the holiday season in true holiday spirit,” says Gwen Speakes, president of the Meadowlark Service League, noting that Judy Sitko and Kristie Akl are co-chairs of this year’s tour.

“We have three beautiful homes this year, two in Somis on the Saticoy Country Club golf course, and one in Camarillo on the Las Posas Country Club golf course,” Speakes says. “Each home has unique architectural details, furnishings and accessories that reflect the owners’ styles. All have fabulous views and are great for entertaining.”

The homes are open for viewing from noon to 4 p.m., and the Red Barn Holiday Boutique is open for shopping from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The boutique is open to everyone, and those that purchase a home tour ticket are admitted free to the boutique. Non-ticket holders pay a $5 fee for admittance.

Tickets for the home tours are $30 each. Guests can also purchase a brunch and a ticket for $65. The brunch is available from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 805.630.7257 or online at

“Tickets make great gifts for family, friends and employees and service vendors, such as your barber, hairdresser, babysitter,” Speakes says. “For just $30, everyone will get to enjoy a lovely day with family and friends and at the same time contribute to our community through the 30-plus charities in Ventura County who receive funding from Meadowlarks.”

This year’s holiday event is hoped to generate about $40,000.

“The funds are distributed to about 33 charities in Ventura County who deal directly with people who need help,” Speakes says. “We fund programs such as FOOD Share, hospice, various health care organizations, Veterans’ organizations, arts and music, and various counseling programs.”

Recipients served in 2016 include the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo, Camarillo Family YMCA, Conejo Free Clinic, Gold Coast Veterans Foundation, Brain Injury Center, New West Symphony and Mary Health of the Sick Convalescent Hospital.

“The Meadowlarks are unique in that we don’t donate to just one charity or service. We donate to several organizations,” Speakes says. “Every family in our county will probably benefit from at least one of them at some point. Our fundraisers enable us to help charities that may not have many sources of support, and it helps Ventura County continue its goal of providing services to all members of our community.”

Cancer Support Community

The Cancer Support Community presents its 26th Annual Holiday Homes Tour on Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This event, attended by more than 3,000 guests each year, includes a self-guided tour of private homes in the Conejo Valley and surrounding communities, which have been decorated to display the family’s personal tastes and traditions for the holidays. A holiday boutique will complement the event on Dec. 2 and 3 at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Westlake Village from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The self-guided tour is one of the organization’s largest fundraisers, allowing the Cancer Support Community to continue providing cancer support, education and hope, free of charge, for people affected by cancer and their families, says Donna Baharouzi, development director at Cancer Support Community.

“This is basically an event in our community supporting our community of people that are affected by cancer and their loved ones,” Baharouzi says. “It’s important for them to know that we’re here for them and they don’t have to face cancer alone.”

All the offerings at the Cancer Support Community are free of charge, which are made possible through fundraisers that take place year-round, including the holiday home tour.

“We’re free of charge so they don’t have to be burdened with more fees,” Baharouzi says. “We offer professionally licensed therapists and Zumba and meditation classes… we also have professionally led workshops.”

One hundred percent of proceeds from this year’s holiday homes tour will directly benefit the programs offered by the Cancer Support Community.

“We currently have three houses that will be open to the public, and one is a VIP exclusive,” Baharouzi explains. “Most people are used to us doing the home tour over two days—we’re only doing the home tour one day this year. But our boutique will be open for two days, and proceeds from the boutique will also benefit our organization.”

In other changes this year, morning and afternoon tickets will be available to diminish crowding, because the home tours are taking place in one day. Available times are from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 1:30 to 5 p.m.

Tickets for the home tour only are $40 each if purchased by Dec. 1. Tickets can also be purchased on the day of the tour for $45.

Tickets for the VIP exclusive are $125 each. Those who purchase VIP tickets will also receive a VIP brunch with champagne and have access to a private shuttle that will take them to the homes on the tour.

“Then they’ll get a special little gift in the exclusive house,” Baharouzi says.

For tickets, visit

The ultimate goal of the Cancer Support Community is to ensure that adults, children and teens impacted by cancer are empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and supported by a community. Since its inception, the Cancer Support Community has served more than 28,000 local residents affected by cancer with programs throughout San Fernando Valley, Ventura County and Santa Barbara County.

“The Cancer Support Community is just a way for them to have that support system so they can have hope,” Baharouzi says. “That’s really the key to our program and our success—just giving people hope.”