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David Peri, Maryan Schall Named Man, Woman of Year

Santa Barbara Foundation bestows honors on civic-minded — and surprised — volunteer leaders

The Santa Barbara Foundation on Thursday celebrated its favorite volunteers of 2008 as the organization held its 67th Man & Woman of the Year Awards Luncheon.

“There’s nothing in my mind that’s more important than volunteerism,” said Ron Gallo, president of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “And today that is what we are celebrating.”

Local CPA and second-generation Santa Barbaran David L. Peri was given the honor of 2008 Man of the year.

“During these challenging economic times — challenging for funders, as well as nonprofits, challenging for government programs, we think of the safety net as really getting frayed,” said Naomi Schwartz, executive director of the Behrendt-Gildea Foundation. “This year’s honoree has always been aware of the safety net of this community and the importance of keeping it strong.”

Among Peri’s accomplishments are his participation in founding the Fund for Santa Barbara, Doctors Without Walls and the Behrendt-Gildea Foundation. Peri currently serves on the boards of Casa Esperanza, the More Mesa Preservation Coalition and the California Missions Foundation. He has also been involved with Catholic Charities, Earl Warren Showgrounds and the Partnership for Children.

“I just believe that those of us who can should give back, and now it’s more important than it’s ever been,” said a shy Peri, who described himself as someone who prefers to “always work in the back of the room.”

Meanwhile, the 2008 Woman of the Year was similarly overwhelmed.

“I’m almost speechless and the words ‘speechless’ and ‘Maryan Schall’ don’t go together,” philanthropist Maryan Schall quipped as she received her award. “To have my name added to this illustrious list of Women of the Year is almost beyond belief.”

Schall was recognized for her work with local organizations like the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, where she has been an active board member for the last 18 years. She also serves on the board of Sansum-Santa Barbara Medical Clinic and on the President’s Council and multiple committees of the SBCC Adult Education Advisory Committee. Schall, who was board vice president of CALM-Child Abuse Listening and Mediation from 1989-99 continues to serve at Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara and the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

The event, held at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort Hotel’s Coral Casino, was hosted by seasoned emcee Larry Crandell, who was himself the Foundation’s Man of the Year in 1988. KEYT-TV evening anchor Paula Lopez shared the mike.

Among the dignitaries in the audience were Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum and Grant House; Goleta City Councilman Michael Bennett; Westmont College President Gayle Beebe; and SBCC President Andreea Serban.

The recipients of this year’s awards were not notified of their honor until the ceremonies. According to Suzanne Farwell, the Santa Barbara Foundation’s communications director, winners are nominated by the community, and the selection process includes some of the past honorees, who are not allowed to discuss their selections. The former honorees hold a silent vote, but they don’t know who is ultimately selected, said Farwell.   

The honorees also received recognition from city and county officials, as well as state State Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, and Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

Previous winners of the awards include David Anderson, Pearl Chase, Leni Fe Bland, Lotte Lehman, Eli Luria, Thomas M. Storke and Gail Towbes, all of whom were recognized for volunteer service and involvement.

The Man & Woman of the Year award was created in 1942 by the Santa Barbara Advertising Club to recognize civic leaders. These days the award is cosponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation and KEYT-TV.

“Without volunteerism, none of the nonprofits would be able to do the work that they do,” Farwell said. “All the people that we have celebrated over the years have made Santa Barbara what it is.”

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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