The Channel Islands YMCA presented a celebration of 125 years honoring and supporting people in local communities who have worked together to strengthen these communities with healthy living and social responsibility with a historic and festive event held at the 36 Hitchcock Way Santa Barbara Family YMCA location.
The Santa Barbara Family YMCA and Ventura Family YMCA were established in 1887, having now grown to six facilities offering health and fitness options for families with 20 child-care locations. The other four facilities include the Montecito Family YMCA established in 1957, the Lompoc Family YMCA in 1977, the Camarillo Family YMCA in 1981, the Santa Ynez Valley YMCA in 1989, now Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA, and Youth and Family Services YMCA in 2001.
A reception in a smaller tent began the evening with sounds from a two-piece band and hors d’oeuvres and beverages including wine, beer, coffee, strawberry lemonade and iced tea.
Following the reception, guests received an invitation to join together in a bigger tent to begin the program and dinner, and guests were greeted with a historical slide show.
Master of ceremonies John Palminteri introduced George Leis, CI YMCA board chair, who strode to the stage for an opening welcome and introduced Thomas Schmid, Active Older Adult Program specialist for the Santa Barbara Family YMCA, and Natalie Waechter of the Ventura Family YMCA for the Pledge of Allegiance. Waechter is a senior at Foothill Technology High School in Ventura who plans on interviewing to become a statewide chaplain.
Following the rousing pledge by Waechter, there were additional proclamations and special recognitions shared by Leis.
“The YMCAs that were founded in Santa Barbara and Ventura were the result of dedicated volunteers who wanted to make their cities a better place to live,” Leis said. “That basic desire, to make a positive impact on their community, is still at the foundation of what drives volunteers to serve this wonderful organization.”
Next, Leis introduced the 125th anniversary committee chairman, Darren Caesar, who began the process for this event 18 months ago and spoke on his gratitude to all volunteers and sponsors for the success of the evening.
“As all YMCA volunteers know, it’s great committee work that makes good things happen,” Caesar said. “We’ve had a fantastic group of creative, enthusiastic people working together over the last 18 months to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the CI YMCA and communicate to the community the history, innovation and work of the YMCA movement in SB and Ventura counties.”
Caesar also noted the historical displays set up for guests to view as they made their way from the parking lot past old cars and informative presentations of a rich history with proclamations and certificates from local government leaders, including Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, Assemblyman Das Williams, First District county Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett.
An awards presentation followed a dinner buffet of garden salad, grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes, carrot soufflé, butternut squash ravioli, tri-tip and salmon handed out to a host of deserving organizations and supporters.
The Annual Support Achievement Awards were presented by Caesar, including the Chairman’s Award presented to the Santa Barbara Family YMCA, which had the greatest percentage increase in the annual campaign for the current year with an 8 percent increase to $164,507. The Association Award was given to the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA, which had the greatest dollar increase in annual fundraising for the current year over prior year with a $39,461 increase to $173,103.
Following these impressive awards, Sal Cisneros, president and CEO, strode to the podium to give the president’s address, titled “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow … for Good.”
“The Y has always engaged people and encouraged healthy living, has always nurtured the potential of youth, has always relied on charitable support to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive,” Cisneros said.
After the state of the association, Cisneros was joined on stage by Leis and Jim Armstrong, past board chair, to present the Golden Triangle of Lifetime Service Awards, for dedication and loyalty to the Y over a generation, to Dean Anders of the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA, Ann Bockius of the Lompoc Family YMCA, George Armstrong of the Montecito Family YMCA, Dave Nichols of the Camarillo Family YMCA, Richard Welch of the Santa Barbara Family YMCA, Dana White of Youth and Family Services, Kay Woodburn of the Ventura Family YMCA and the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust Association Office.
Later, after some parting thoughts from Leis and Caesar, guests were invited to join in a traditional camp dessert of homemade chocolate chip cookies, s’more pops and chilled milk that was accompanied by a camp song from Tom Cram of the YMCA of Greater Whittier.
The festive atmosphere continued back in the mini tent for guests looking to celebrate further and dance to the 125-year success of the Y with live music by The Bomb.
CI YMCA is a charitable organization that provides programs based upon Christian principles to men, women and children of all ages, races, religious beliefs and economic status to develop and enrich the spirit, mind and body.
The success of this mission is based on a dedication to youth development by nurturing the potential of every child and teen, with a focus on healthy living and social responsibility to support the community.
The Channel Islands YMCA graciously thanks the sponsors of the 125th anniversary celebration, including:
» Silver: Pacific Coast Business Times and Rabobank