Saturday, May 26 , 2018, 3:50 am | Fair 55º


Celebrating 50 Years, Scholarship Foundation Expresses ‘Words of Gratitude’

Past and current award recipients join the Santa Barbara nonprofit in reflecting on its history and accomplishments

A celebration recognizing 50 years of history and accomplishments by the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara was staged in a stunning ballroom of white at the Bacara Resort & Spa for 450 guests.

“Words of Gratitude” were not only displayed through an innovative multimedia retrospective, but also expressed by co-chairs and honorees with past and current award recipients in enthusiastic and heartfelt messages that kept the large crowd engaged throughout the night.

The evening began under a warm setting with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the Bacara terrace with musical accompaniment by the talented Haddon Cord.

After soaking in the last of the golden rays, guests set forth to the main ballroom decorated in high fashion by Merryl Brown Events, with elegant table settings of white topped by ivory candles and tall-stemmed daisies.

The large ballroom was also filled with multimedia displays of quotes from award winners projected onto the walls surrounding guests that expressed appreciation for 50 years of community service.

As guests settled into their seats, words of experience and gratitude were shared by co-chairs Joanne Rapp and Patty MacFarlane. Rapp is a past president of the Scholarship Foundation (1992-94), and MacFarlane joined the organization 10 years ago as a volunteer and supporter and served as president (2009-11).

Words of appreciation were also shared by honorary chair Michael Towbes and Santa Barbara Foundation President Ron Gallo that built on the celebratory tone of the evening.

“Ever since we learned that the Scholarship Foundation was about to turn 50, we knew that we had to be a big part of this celebration,” Gallo said. “Why? Because the Scholarship Foundation is a ‘first among equals.’ No other organization more elucidates the values of the Santa Barbara Foundation or better expresses our aspirations for the people and communities of this county.”

A special insert was also included in the evening’s program from Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, acknowledging the accomplishments of the Scholarship Foundation and thanking all guests and supporters for their ongoing commitment to the future of Santa Barbara County youths.

A delectable dinner was served, including a wedge of limestone lettuce with Parma ham, pan-roasted wild Alaskan salmon with white truffle rissoto, and rich chocolate mousse with seasonal fruits and berries or lemon tart.

The magnificent evening was capped off in an intimate after-party lounge, with cocktails and music that brought a perfect end to a historic night and pointed toward a bright future.

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara was formed 50 years ago by a group of volunteers and members of the American Association of University Women and PTA resulting in an impactful local organization that today is the largest community-based scholarship foundation in the United States.

Since 1962, the Scholarship Foundation has provided 32,887 scholarships to Santa Barbara County students totaling more than $72 million and provided financial aid advising services to more than 25,000 students and parents each year.

The ultimate goal of the Scholarship Foundation is to provide a scholarship to every deserving and motivated Santa Barbara County student who is working to access higher education or vocational school.

“The Scholarship Foundation was started 50 years ago with the sense that these are our kids, this is our community,” past president Ken Saxon said. “If they are going to do the work that enables them to go to college, it is in our interest as a community to help them.”

With the momentous 50th anniversary date, event highlights included an award recipient from each decade of the foundation’s existence who further drew attention to the organization’s contributions to the community and growth throughout the years.

Todd Crow, a faculty member at Vassar College and one of the original nine scholarship recipients awarded by the Scholarship Foundation in 1963, represented the 1960s. The 70s were represented by Susan French, who graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University and works as a prenatal educator in Los Angeles with at-risk teens. Ramon Guerrero, M.D., who graduated from Carleton College, represented the 1980s and is now a partner at the largest anesthesia group in Texas.

One of the 100 most influential Hispanics, as acknowledged by Hispanic Business Magazine in 2011, was Monica Gil, who completed her undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley and her graduate studies at USC.

Gil was an excellent representative of the organization and the 1990s and is currently the vice president of public and government affairs at The Nielsen Company. She said she found the scholarship and support she received from SFSB to be invaluable, not only for the financial contributions that were valuable for her upbringing on the Eastside of Santa Barbara, at the time, but for the emotional support the organization provided, too.

“Scholarships are an opportunity that gives students confidence,” Gil said. “It reminds them that they belong at institutions of higher learning. It tells them that they’re resilient, and when someone believes in you and bets on you in that way you’re much more likely to succeed than if you didn’t have that backing. It’s more than a financial contribution. The reality is the scholarships make sure that you’re given the confidence to succeed.”

The 2000s were represented by Amir Abo-Shaeer, founder and director of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, who in 2010 was the first high school teacher to be named a MacArthur Fellow.

“Over the last 50 years, the Scholarship Foundation has created opportunity and transformed lives — one scholarship at a time,” said Executive Director Colette Hadley, who shared closing remarks for the evening. “The foundation continues to open the doors of college opportunity to more Santa Barbara County students each year.”

Another unique quality of the evening and a symbol of the organization’s success was that there was no live or silent auction, drawing stark contrasts to the organization’s first year of operation when the group raised enough money to give away nine $100 scholarships.

“The Scholarship Foundation is on the front lines of the effort that is dedicated to making sure that every young person who wants a higher education can get one,” Gallo said. “Its outreach, its funds, its encouragement, and its engagement with students and their families have been a beacon of hope for over half a century. And it is oh so important that we all take ownership of making sure it can expand its reach and its effectiveness, especially in these challenging times.”

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara graciously thanks all supporters of the 50th anniversary “Words of Gratitude” celebration, including:

» Presenting Sponsor: Santa Barbara Foundation.

» Chancellor: Montecito Bank & Trust.

» Valedictorian: John & Patty MacFarlane, Dick & Maryan Schall, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and the Rose Hills Foundation.

» Salutatorian: Brittingham Family Foundation, Roger & Gail Haupt, Thistle & Rose Foundation, Jack & Judy Stapelmann and Bob & Val Montgomery.

» Magna Cum Laude: Cox, John & Christie Glanville, Bill & Kristin Loomis,, Brett Matthews & Ginger Salazar, Mosher Foundation, Selby & Diane Sullivan, and Venoco Inc.

» Cum Laude: Leon & Judy Bartholomew, JB & Julia Rodgers, and the William E. Weiss Foundation.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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