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Chumash Foundation Pledges $300,000 to Unity Shoppe’s Capital Campaign

By Mike Traphagen for the Chumash Casino Resort |

In an effort to help Santa Barbara’s Unity Shoppe raise funds to purchase a new facility, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation has pledged $300,000 over a three-year period.

Unity Shoppe, which provides vital services for low-income families, recently lost the rights to use its former facility and has established a capital campaign so it can pay off the mortgage on a $3.7 million, 16,000-square-foot building on West Sola Street. With $1.2 million already raised, Unity Shoppe needs to raise another $1 million by the end of 2013 and the remaining $1.5 million by the end of 2014.

“Unity Shoppe has spent the past century providing a safety net for families in our community who are in danger of going on welfare or even becoming homeless,” said Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “Our tribe is honored to help this great organization when it’s in need.”

Among Unity Shoppe’s programs, it offers a marketplace that provides temporary help for people who are in crisis and need nutritional food to feed their families. Nearly 24,000 clients get referred to Unity Shoppe’s Central Distribution Center by 300 other nonprofit agencies, churches, schools and hospitals countywide.

“We have 10 different programs, but the top one involves food. Not everyone needs clothes or furniture, but everyone needs food,” said Tom Reed, executive director of the Unity Shoppe. “The marketplace is central to everything we do.”

Reed noted that the long-standing relationship between the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and Unity Shoppe is one of the most heart-warming human-interest stories he knows.

“Unity Shoppe was able to help provide for tribal members before they were able to generate their own revenues, and the Chumash have not forgotten,” Reed said. “Now the Chumash have pledged to help Unity relocate its family services so that we can successfully provide the help needed by thousands of low-income working families, children and the elderly throughout the county of Santa Barbara. This very generous grant will serve as a reminder to all those who come through our new facility that the Chumash are instrumental in caring for those in our midst who find themselves in need.”

While the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and other key organizations have made significant contributions, Reed noted that the capital campaign and the task at hand are both daunting.

“We have to relocate all of our 10 programs under one roof, but it’s exciting because it will make us more efficient and allow us to do a better job of providing for everyone in need,” Reed said. “We’re helping to take care of those who have no voice, namely the single-parent families.”

The Unity Shoppe is a 501 (c)(3) Public Benefit Corporation that encourages self-sufficiency and independence by providing education and the necessities of life to families, children, seniors and persons with disabilities during periodic times of crisis. These necessities are provided, at no charge, in a dignified manner without regard to political affiliation, religious belief or ethnic identity.

Through its foundation, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has donated more than $16 million to hundreds of groups, organizations and schools in the community and across the nation as part of the Chumash’s long-standing tradition of giving.

Click here for more information about the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation and its giving programs.

— Mike Traphagen is a public relations specialist for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation.

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