Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 3:58 pm | A Few Clouds 68º


Businesses Donate Computers to Santa Maria Valley Students

School districts recognize two Santa Barbara organizations and others for support

Two Olga Reed Elementary School students went home with a brand-new computer Wednesday, one of eight given out through a partnership between businesses and educators in the Santa Maria Valley.

The giveaway occurred during the Santa Maria Valley Industry Education Council’s 2014 Business Appreciation Luncheon at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.

The luncheon theme was, “Partnerships are sweet!”

“We want to take an opportunity to recognize and thank so many of you who help schools on a daily basis,” said Tim Ritchie, chairman of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of Home Motors. 

A booklet handed out shared the many ways businesses give their time, money and resources to support education. 

“All these donations, both large and small, represent a huge commitment to public education, and we thank all of you for your efforts to continually help our schools,” Ritchie said.

He noted that support given by service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Altrusa. 

“Thank you for being such wonderful community partners for our students as it also teaches them the value of giving back to their community,” Ritchie said.

Through the Computer Connections program, the Santa Maria Valley Industry Education Council and the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce work to bridge the digital divide by delivering brand-new computers to under-served students.

The eight computers given out Wednesday were donated by Wells Fargo Bank Foundation, Santa Maria Energy and the Chamber of Commerce.

Colette Hadley from the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara was recognized by the Santa Maria Valley Industry Education Council during a luncheon Wednesday. Presenting the award is Susan Salcido, deputy superintendent of the Santa Barbara County Education Office. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Last month, Santa Maria Energy funded eight other computers given during local school board meetings.

In all, the program started in 2002 has provided computers for more than 200 children and their families.

Olga Reed Elementary School students Jair Camarillo, a seventh-grader, and Perla Camarillo, a sixth-grader, are phenomenal and hard-working, according to Joe Dana, principal of the Los Alamos campus.

The donation will give them a chance to learn more from home, he added.

“It’s going to be great for them,” Dana said. 

The other computer recipients were Arieanna Clark, fifth-grader at Mary Buren Elementary School; Samantha Andrade, eighth-grader at Kermit McKenzie Junior High; Gizelle Mincitar, ninth-grader at Santa Maria High; Alisa Stover, 10th-grader at Righetti High School; Juan Rodriguez, fifth-grader at Robert Bruce School; Victor Franco; fifth-grader at Battle School; and Alexa Ramirez and Issac Ramirez, 10th- and 11th-graders at Orcutt Academy High School.

Also at the luncheon, Santa Maria Valley school districts recognized several companies, individuals and nonprofit organizations for their outstanding support of education.

For instance, the Industry Education Council spotlighted Colette Hadley, executive director of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. She has worked for the foundation for more than 22 years, and during the summer announced plans to resign within a year to move closer to family in Southern California.

“The Scholarship Foundation is a dynamic force in the community,” said Susan Salcido, deputy superintendent for the Santa Barbara County Education Office. 

The foundation started 52 years ago, and handed out $100 scholarships to nine students in the first year.

In 2014, 2,748 scholarships amounting to more than $8.6 million were given to students. The group also provide financial-aid advice to thousands of students.

“This kind of organization only happens with exceptional leadership, and that leadership comes from Colette Hadley, who has the vision and the passion, the drive, that internal value of supporting students and education, students of all backgrounds, in education,” Salcido said.

The Santa Maria Bonita School District honored the Assistance League of Santa Barbara for partnering with the district.

Since 2008, through Operation School Bell, the organization has helped more than 900 youths shop at Target for clothing and supplies they otherwise wouldn’t get. Each student received $110, putting the organization’s total over $100,000.

“This is special. It’s special because we honor folks that are the backbone to all of our districts, and as I like to say, they do so in such a quiet yet powerful way,” said Superintendent Phil Alvarado of the Santa Maria-Bonita district. 

The Assistance League’s primary funding source is a thrift shop in Santa Barbara, he added.

“We just felt it was so appropriate and so long overdue,” Alvarado said of the recognition. “We just, number one, want to express our gratitude to you because we in Santa Maria know that we are an extremely giving community. We just want to say to our friends in Santa Barbara, thank you for driving over the grade and being part of our community and giving so much back to our students.”

Del Taco No. 833 owner Debi Testa and manager Robert Ponce were spotlighted for providing jobs, the Santa Barbara County Education Office Special Education Department said.

Recognition also went to the Altrusa International Foundation by the Guadalupe Union School District; George Schrager by Allan Hancock College Foundation; Rabobank by Orcutt Union School District; and Plantel Nurseries from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District.

The Industry Education Council is a nonprofit organization sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, and made up of business leaders and educators to provide support to local schools. 

In addition to the fall luncheon, the organization hosts Principal for a Day each spring to let business and community leaders learn more about the challenges facing educators. 

Computers also are given away during that event to students through the Computer Connection program.  

For more information about the group, contact its liaison Peggy Greer at 805.349.0443 or [email protected]

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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