An enthusiastic crowd of 250 people celebrated Monday as $1 million in awards were distributed among 180 local nonprofits at the 10th annual Montecito Bank & Trust Community Dividends Awards held at the Coral Casino at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.

“This truly is my favorite event,” Montecito Bank & Trust Chairman Michael Towbes said. “Our goal, through the Community Dividends, as well as our overall philosophy of giving back to the community, is to make the communities we serve better places to live and work.”

The afternoon luncheon held at the La Pacific Ball Room commenced with a jovial networking reception on the oceanside terrace followed by a Thanksgiving-themed lunch and introductions from bank leaders before the distribution of the Community Dividends.

Towbes and Chief Executive Officer/President Janet Garufis greeted guests for the kickoff of the holiday season of giving and goodwill when many nonprofits are dealing with budget shortfalls, especially during these uncertain economic times.

“There are a lot of reasons this is really critical. Especially in the last few years we’ve seen how the need has increased, so we’ve given to more organizations fewer dollars, but we’ve tried to spread it around a little bit,” Garufis said. “We’ve heard from organizations that it’s been really extraordinary help in times when it was really needed to have totally unrestricted grants.”

Leah Questad, resource development manager for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County, said that dozens of abused and neglected children in the community have benefited from the grants received from the Dividends program.

“Court Appointed Special Advocates is so incredibly grateful to the Towbes family, Montecito Bank & Trust and the Community Dividends Program,” she said. “The ongoing support that CASA has received from this amazing program has provided advocates to children and changed countless lives. Children right here in our community have been touched and changed thanks to Community Dividends. This program has also inspired others to give to CASA as well as spread the word about the important work that CASA does.”

Montecito Bank & Trust board members, from left, Ken Verkler, Robert Skinner, Thomas Fly, Cathy Carter Duncan, Jerry Parent and Craig Zimmerman. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

Montecito Bank & Trust board members, from left, Ken Verkler, Robert Skinner, Thomas Fly, Cathy Carter Duncan, Jerry Parent and Craig Zimmerman. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

The bank regularly receives nearly double the number of applications for the annual Community Dividends awards, and under its Subchapter S status, the bank can award money that would have been paid to taxes. This year, the program received 311 applications, and the most nonprofits ever — 180 — were invited to the event.

One of the youngest award recipients in the room was Jordan Lund, CEO of Kids Helping Kids, a student-run charity organization that operates out of San Marcos High School.

“Last year we covered the funeral costs of a fellow student, Sergio Romero, who was killed on Milpas Street, so that his parents would not have to shoulder the financial burden, and we also paid for an electric cart for a student with a rare skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa,” Lund said. “We raise funds through corporate and individuals donations, which is why we are so grateful to Montecito Bank & Trust for the $2,500 grant that we are getting. It’s really going to help us benefit kids in our community and kids worldwide.”

A commitment to community is showcased through the bank’s participation in programs such as Community Dividends, Anniversary Grants and other employee volunteer events, including Summit for Danny, the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation’s Build-a-Bike, and the bank’s award-winning financial literacy program Teach Children to Save Day.

“There’s a tremendous need in the nonprofit community for this kind of support,” Towbes said. “And this is particularly important to me this year because this is the 10th year that we’ve done that, which means that by the end of the day we will have given $10 million to support nonprofits in Santa Barbara. And all I can say is, wow, that’s very special.”


» Adelante Charter School
» Adventures in Caring Foundation
» AHA! (Academy of Healing Arts for Teens)
» Alano Club of Santa Barbara, Inc.
» Alliance for the Arts
» Alzheimers Association, California Central Coast Chapter
» American Cancer Society
» American Heart Association Central Coast Division
» Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara
» Anti-Defamation League
» Arthritis Foundation
» Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County
» Bishop Garcia Diego High School
» Boys & Girls Club of Moorpark
» Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley
» Boys & Girls Clubs of Ventura
» Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara
» Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara
» California Lutheran University
» California State University Channel Islands Foundation
» Cancer Center of Santa Barbara
» CAREGIVERS Volunteers Assisting the Elderly
» Carpinteria Beautiful
» Carpinteria Education Foundation, Inc.
» Casa Esperanza Homeless Center
» Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families
» Casa Serena, Inc.
» Catholic Charities
» Center Stage Theatre
» Child Abuse Listening Mediation, Inc.
» Children’s Museum of Santa Barbara
» Coastal Housing Coalition
» Community Arts Music Association of Santa Barbara, Inc.
» Community Conscience / Under One Roof
» Community Counseling and Education Center
» Community Memorial Health System
» Conejo Valley Senior Concerns, Inc.
» Congregation B’nai B’rith
» Cornelia Moore Dental Foundation
» Cornerstone House of Santa Barbara
» Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation
» Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse
» Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County
» Crane Country Day School
» Cupcakes for Cancer
» Direct Relief International
» Doctors Without Walls Santa Barbara Street Medicine
» Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County
» Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation
» Dream Foundation
» Easy Lift Transportation, Inc.
» El Concilio Family Services
» Elings Park Foundation
» Elverhoj Museum of History & Art
» Ensemble Theater Company of Santa Barbara
» Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara
» Fielding Graduate University
» FOOD Share
» Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
» Foundation for Santa Barbara High School
» Friends of the Library of the Santa Ynez Valley, Inc.
» Friendship Adult Day Care Center, Inc.
» Friendship Manor
» Ganna Walska Lotusland Foundation
» Garden Court, Inc.
» Gay & Lesbian Business Association
» Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria
» Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara
» Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation
» Goleta Valley Historical Society
» Goleta Valley Senior Center
» Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County
» Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County
» HELP of Carpinteria
» Hospice of Santa Barbara, Inc.
» Hospice of the Conejo
» Housing Opportunities Made Easier
» Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County, Inc.
» Isla Vista Youth Projects, Inc.
» Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara
» Just Communities Central Coast
» Kids Helping Kids
» La Casa de Maria Retreat & Conference Center
» Laguna Blanca School
» Laguna Cottages for Seniors
» Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County
» Life Network, Inc.
» Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association
» Lobero Theatre Foundation
» Manna Conejo Valley Food Bank
» Many Mansions
» Marjorie Luke Theatre
» Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County
» Museum of Ventura County
» Music Academy of the West
» NAWBO-SB Foundation
» New Beginnings Counseling Center
» Notes for Notes
» Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, Inc.
» Opera Santa Barbara
» Pacific Pride Foundation, Inc.
» Page Youth Center
» Parks and Recreation Community Foundation
» PathPoint
» Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corporation
» Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties, Inc.
» Project Understanding
» San Marcos Parent Child Workshop
» Sansum Clinic
» Sansum Diabetes Research Institute
» Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.
» Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation
» Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
» Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra
» Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
» Santa Barbara Community Housing Corporation
» Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Foundation
» Santa Barbara Dance Alliance
» Santa Barbara Education Foundation
» Santa Barbara Family Care Center
» Santa Barbara Foundation
» Santa Barbara Historical Museum
» Santa Barbara International Film Festival
» Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
» Santa Barbara Meals on Wheels, Inc.
» Santa Barbara Middle School
» Santa Barbara Museum of Art
» Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
» Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics
» Santa Barbara Partners in Education
» Santa Barbara Police Activities League
» Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center
» Santa Barbara Rescue Mission
» Santa Barbara Soccer Club
» Santa Barbara Symphony
» Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
» Santa Barbara Village
» Santa Barbara Zoological Foundation
» Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation
» Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, Inc.
» Sarah House
» Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara
» Solvang Friendship House
» Solvang Lutheran Home, Inc.
» Solvang Senior Center
» Special Olympics Santa Barbara
» St. John’s Healthcare Foundation
» St. Vincent’s
» State Street Ballet
» Storyteller Children’s Center
» Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International
» Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation
» The Foundation for Girsh Park
» The Foundation for Santa Barbara City College
» The Little Cottage
» The Valley Foundation
» Tradart Foundation
» Transition House
» Triad Properties
» Turning Point Foundation
» UCSB Arts & Lectures
» United Boys & Girls Club of Goleta
» United Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara West Clubhouse
» United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County
» United Boys and Girls Club of Carpinteria
» United Way of Santa Barbara County
» United Way of Ventura County
» Unity Shoppe, Inc.
» Valley Haven, Inc.
» Ventura County Community Foundation
» Ventura County Housing Trust Fund
» Ventura County Medical Resource Foundation
» Ventura Music Festival
» Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara
» Westmont College
» Wilderness Youth Project
» Wildling Art Museum
» Women’s Economic Ventures
» YMCA Youth and Family Services: Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter
» YMCA: Stuart C. Gildred Family Santa Ynez

Noozhawk contributing writer Melissa Walker can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.