Dayna DeBernardi-Watson has been elected president of the Altrusa Club of the Central Coast Foundation for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

“In this capacity Mrs. DeBernardi-Watson will lead the foundation in its work for the Santa Maria Valley community through grants and scholarships,” said Noe Mahelona, the group’s past president.

Joining DeBernardi-Watson on the board are: Leticia Kossuth, vice president; Samantha Van Patten, treasurer; and Joyce Ellen Lippman, secretary, Mahelona announced.

“The Altrusa Club of the Central Coast Foundation is best known for its annual Festival of Trees held for the past 20 years,” Mahelona said. “During these 20 years, the Altrusa Foundation has raised over $1 million for the provision of scholarships and grants for local social and human services.”

“I am pleased to announce that the 2022 Festival of Trees raised over $70,000, which allowed us to award $48,000 in scholarships to local students to further their college education, and $22,675 to nonprofit organizations providing key services in northern Santa Barbara County,” DeBernardi-Watson said. “These allocations make a difference in our community.”

“Planning for the 2023 Festival of Trees is underway,” said Leticia Kossuth, Festival of Trees co-chair. “The community support for the Festival of Trees is evident through the nearly 30 tree sponsors this year.”

The tree festival will be Nov. 24-Dec. 9 at the Santa Maria Town Center, but with expanded space this year, the festival is still accepting additional tree sponsors.

“Our Festival of Trees will be held again at the Santa Maria Town Center on the first floor near the theater,” said Kim Tito, co-chair of the event.

“For the purchase of a $1 raffle ticket, each tree winner will take home a fabulously decorated tree and gifts, and support scholarships and grants throughout the Santa Maria Valley,” Tito said. “And each raffle ticket purchaser is a winner, as well.

“With your participation in the 2023 Festival of Trees, you can be a part of this wonderful opportunity for our community. We hope to raise more monies this year.” Tito said. ‘The need is great. We received 79 scholarship applications this year — a record number. We were able to support most.

“We also received more grant requests than ever and provided funding to many providing critical services to our vulnerable populations.”

For more contact Leticia Kossuth at or 805-264-3170.