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Montecito Bank & Trust Honors Local Nonprofits with $15,000 in Anniversary Grants

Each organization, selected by a bank employee, receives $1,500 to continue its work in the community

Montecito Bank & Trust employees highlighted the work of 10 local nonprofit organizations Wednesday night and awarded each organization $1,500 to continue its efforts.

The local bank hosted its 21st consecutive Anniversary Grants awards reception at its downtown Santa Barbara office, which was filled with nonprofit volunteers, local business people and polo-wearing bank employees.

Montecito Bank & Trust President Janet Garufis pointed out her employees’ attire so those present would also recognize their efforts in the annual award program that originated to mark the anniversary of the bank, which opened for business on March 17, 1975.

As per tradition, each bank employee chose a nonprofit he or she deemed worthy and worked to persuade peers to vote for it, with each person getting 10 votes.

The bank has honored the organizations with the most votes since the award program started in 1993. Organizations are eligible to receive an award only every three years.

“You all make Montecito Bank & Trust a better place to be,” Garufis said.

Groups that received a total of $15,000 in grants Wednesday included Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP), Atterdag Village of Solvang Auxiliary, C.A.R.E.4Paws, Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara, Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM), Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center, incredible children’s art network (iCAN), Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and RAIN Communities, Inc

Bank employees took turns introducing their charities of choice before playing a short informational video about each nonprofit. Cox Communications, which produced the videos, also gave each nonprofit its own copy.

Bank employee Michelle Richardson said she felt connected to Angels Foster Care, where she serves as a volunteer board member. The nonprofit helps place infants in foster homes throughout Santa Barbara County.

“The work they do is really remarkable,” she said.

Angela Walter Rockwell accepted an award for the Animal Shelter Assistance Program, noting that the organization has helped care for more than 25,000 cats in its 23 years.

“That spirit of community is continuing on in our organization,” Walter Rockwell said. “Thank you so much for recognizing us.”

Michael Towbes, bank founder and chairman, said he enjoys giving back to the community. He added that he fondly remembers trying to scrape up funds to open the bank around St. Patrick’s Day back in 1975, which is why the awards reception is always held near the holiday.

“We continue to grow and serve our communities,” Towbes said. “We believe we set the gold standard for corporate philanthropy.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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