The Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara is located on the Mesa of Santa Barbara but its members reside in the wider community from Carpinteria to Goleta. As Christians, we strive to love our neighbors throughout our community well. Specifically for us as Christians with a Wesleyan/Methodist theology, this means identifying and meeting the physical, mental, emotional, and relational needs of the people around us as well as their spiritual needs. In that effort to minister to the whole person, we developed the three branches of what has become Cliff Drive Care Center: our preschool and children’s educational programs, our senior adults’ luncheon program, and our Christian counseling services.
We began with providing a foundation of Christian education for children. What was originally named the Free Methodist Nursery School started under director Avis Snellenberger in 1963, a time when preschools were new on the scene of education. In 1981, we remodeled and expanded a small house on the church campus, and named it “Cliff House”. This facility gave us space to accommodate the next year’s addition of our Pre-Kindergarten and After-School programs. Being committed to safety and desiring to evolve according to modern educational advances, our church raised money for another renovation in 2000, affording us a new playground and better parking. In 2013, we added our outdoor classroom and a functional bike path. Our current director, Jenny Yznaga, has worked at CDCC since 2000 and has served as our director since 2009.
The vision for a Christian Counseling Center came with Pastor Denny and Cheryl Wayman, appointed to the Santa Barbara Free Methodist Church in 1976. That dream became a reality when Millie Williams, a member of our congregation, donated her home to the church which was traded for the property adjacent to our Cliff Drive church property. After she passed away, her home was remodeled by Ray Flory to house Cliff Drive Christian Counseling Center, which was opened to serve the community in April 1995. Cheryl Wayman, LMFT, served as the founding director for 21 years and was joined by Dana DiSalvo, LMFT, and Denny Wayman, D.Min. in pastoral counseling, to complete the team. In addition to counseling sessions with individuals, couples and families, Denny and Cheryl taught classes in healthy relationships, pastoral and peer counseling, marriage and parenting, including topics such as intimacy in marriage, effective discipline with children, and trained staff and volunteers in the prevention of sexual abuse. Committed to providing affordable, professional counseling from a Christian perspective on a sliding fee scaleadjusted to each family’s income, Cliff Drive Christian Counseling Center transformed many lives and families of our community. In 2016, CDCC took its next step to become a source for professional consultations, educational classes, and referrals for Christian counseling resources. As Cliff Drive Christian Counseling Services, we have expanded the services we provide to include Christian therapists throughout our community with a wide variety of specialties for greater accessibility to those in need.
CDCC’s response to the needs of seniors in our community began in 1979 with the Senior Luncheon Fellowship which began in order to meet senior adults’ most common needs for social interaction, good nutrition, and human touch. The mission of Senior Lunches is “to come alongside senior adults in a dynamic season of life to provide friendship, laughter, spiritual care and a great lunch.” We began hosting Senior Lunches in Cliff House, served them in the Villa Santa Fe community room for many years, and then, after the fellowship building with its commercial kitchen was built in 2000, we welcomed our Villa Santa Fe neighbors to Senior Lunches hosted in our church’s upper fellowship room. Pastor Colleen Hurley-Bates became the director of the Senior Lunch Program in 1995, leading alongside senior volunteers. Currently, our program’s lunches are made on-site by professional chef Michele Molony, who prepares healthy and delicious meals which are served to 55-60 people at the lunches as well as to 20-25 shut-ins in their homes. Over thirty volunteers participate twice monthly to put on the luncheon events, including delivering meals to the shut-ins who are unable to join us in the upper fellowship room.
In these ways, Cliff Drive Care Center has worked to support and care for the immediate and important needs of our neighbors. We will continue to look for ways to serve the emerging needs of our community.