A veritable who’s who of Santa Barbara’s volunteer and philanthropic community gathered Thursday to begin the process of selecting the honorees for the 70th annual Man & Woman of the Year awards.
The honor is bestowed each year upon two individuals who not only display exemplary volunteer efforts and contributions, but also create a significant and positive impact on the local community.
Eight former award recipients gathered at the offices of the Santa Barbara Foundation for a preliminary planning meeting, in which they discussed the criteria, passions, and interests they look for in a nominee.
They also shared their own personal stories and experiences as premier volunteer and community leaders in Santa Barbara.
“Being on this committee validates the work we’ve done in the past and volunteerism,” stated Carol Doane, recipient of the 2007 Woman of the Year award honoring her long-time volunteer work with the Santa Barbara County General Hospital Service L.eague, the Junior League of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Mental Health Association.
“It re-inspires us and recharges us knowing how many people are doing great work in Santa Barbara.”
Alixe Mattingly, vice president of communications and marketing for the Santa Barbara Foundation, described both past and future award recipients as “exceptional leaders of the town identifying the needs of the community.”
“This honor is one of the city’s most prestigious awards,” Mattingly said. “And this annual event celebrates everyone, while also highlighting the work of one man and one woman who embody this powerful message.”
Shirley Ann Hurley, who received a Woman of the Year award in 1990 for helping the Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County raise $800,000 for its building and programs, as well as her work in social service and youth programs, admitted that although she may personally look for one specific interest or passion a nominee has pursued through volunteering, she also examines how their involvement has translated into multiple projects and efforts benefitting the community
“There are so many hot contenders this year so far,” Hurley exclaimed. “I am being completely blown away.”
Sue Adams, honored with the 2001 Woman of the Year award for providing significant help to the homeless and becoming heavily involved with local environmental, health and historical preservation issues, believes her sense of volunteerism stems from the values her parents bestowed upon her as a child.
“There’s not just an American, but a universal ethic that breaks down class barriers, and allows a lot of us to become involved as volunteers working with resources at hand,” explained Adams. “For me, that was care giving for marginal members of society and historical preservation of Santa Barbara as a special place on the California coastline.”
Susan Gulbransen, who received the Woman of the Year award in 2004 while serving as president of the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts, which helped raise millions of dollars for the restoration of The Granada Theatre, said she believes that the ratio of male and female nominees is about equal, although it wasn’t always so during the early days of award nominations. Nevertheless, Gulbransen is grateful for the spotlight the awards shed on volunteerism in Santa Barbara.
“There is so much that goes on in this town, it’s nice to give the public an idea of what’s going on,” said Gulbransen. “Santa Barbara is so unique because volunteerism really gets to shine here.”
Click here for nomination forms or for more information, or call 805.963.1873 to receive an application by mail.
The 70th annual Man & Woman of the Year awards dinner and gala affair is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, Noozhawk, KEYT-TV and KDB 93.7 classical radio, with support from Montecito Bank & Trust.
The awards gala will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel.