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Goleta Valley Historical Society Names Volunteer of the Year

The Goleta Valley Historical Society will honor Joan Rakowski as its first “Volunteer of the Year” on Sunday, Jan. 25.

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Joan Rakowski
“Joan has done tremendous work for our organization,” said Robin Cederlof, GVHS president, who will present the award to Rakowski during the organization’s annual meeting at the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge.

Joan Rakowski has been a dedicated volunteer for the past 16 years. When asked how her volunteer career at Rancho La Patera & Stow House began, Joan pointed out, “I always said I would volunteer as soon as I retire.”

And that is just what she did. Joan retired after 25 years as a Special Education teacher for the Goleta School District and quickly began her work on behalf of the Society. When asked how she became interested in helping out Joan said, “I would bring my own family to events such as the 4th of July and it seemed like a great group of people.”

During her 16 years, Joan served in many roles, including on the board of directors, as president of the GVHS Ladies League, events support, and as manager of collections. She says that her favorite ways to help are “arranging displays in the Stow House and cataloging the collections, especially the historic wedding gowns.”

Joan’s favorite memory was made in 2007, she said, when during Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration, local band Hot Lava sang her “Happy 70th Birthday” in front of 1,500 people. What keeps her coming back, though, is a “love of the Stow family history and the wonderful friendships with other volunteers.”

When not busy at the Stow House, Joan dedicates her time to her family and her church, Saint Marks University Parish. Joan has been married for nearly 50 years to fellow volunteer Arnold Rakowski, with whom she has 3 children and 5 grandchildren.

Linda Foster, volunteer coordinator and Rancho La Patera Caretaker of 20 years said, “When I think of Joan Rakowski, the word that comes to mind is generosity. Over the years I’ve watched how she cares for her children and grandchildren, supports her community of faith, and pours herself out here at GVHS.”

The meeting will also feature a presentation by Rick Wolf, “Soldiers in Agriculture: The Bracero Program in Santa Barbara County.”
For more information please contact the society at 805.681.7216 or click here.

Dacia Harwood is the events and marketing coordinator for Rancho La Patera & Stow House.

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