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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 3:18 am | Fair 39º

 
 
 
 

Channel Islands YMCA Recognizes Staff, Volunteers and Donors at Awards Meeting

The nonprofit organization hosts a festive event at El Paseo Restaurant in celebrating 128 years of striving to strengthen local communities

Claudia and Ed St. George, with Lucca, 9, were presented with the Channel Islands YMCA’s highest tribute, the Community Collaboration Award, for their outstanding contributions to the building of a new 3,200-square-foot Isla Vista teen center.
Claudia and Ed St. George, with Lucca, 9, were presented with the Channel Islands YMCA’s highest tribute, the Community Collaboration Award, for their outstanding contributions to the building of a new 3,200-square-foot Isla Vista teen center. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

The Channel Islands YMCA celebrated 128 years of supporting people who have worked together to strengthen local communities with healthy living and social responsibility at a festive event held recently at El Paseo Restaurant in Santa Barbara.

The breadth of the Channel Islands YMCA's seven facilities, offering health and fitness options for families with child-care locations spanning from Lompoc to Camarillo, was in evidence at the annual board meeting and awards presentation.

“We purposefully seek out ways to benefit the community, finding gaps and creating solutions to fill them,” said Sal Cisneros, president and CEO of the Channel Islands YMCA. “Tonight we honor and celebrate our staff, donors, volunteers and community partners. Because of their service, dedication and financial support, lives are forever changed, and tonight we applaud them.”

The Santa Barbara Family YMCA and the Ventura Family YMCA were established in 1887, the Montecito Family YMCA established in 1957, the Lompoc Family YMCA in 1977, the Camarillo Family YMCA in 1981, the Santa Ynez Valley YMCA in 1989, now Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA, and Youth and Family Services YMCA in 2001.

Youth & Family Services YMCA is an independently managed and funded branch of the Channel Islands YMCA with programs that provide social services for pre-teens, teens and young adults, including My Home, St. George Family Youth Center and Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Shelter.

A reception in the historic El Paseo setting began the evening with hors d’oeuvres and beverages before guests received an invitation to join together to begin the program and dinner in a celebration of staff, volunteers and donors.

Welcoming messages from association board chair Ric Ruffinelli and Camarillo board chair Annick Faict were offered before an awards presentation handed out a host of deserving honors to organizations and supporters.

The evening’s highest tribute, the Community Collaboration Award, was given to Ed and Claudia St. George for outstanding contributions in the building of a new 3,200-square-foot Isla Vista teen center. The St. Georges provided a personal financial commitment and the donation of time to the design, planning and construction of the project due to open soon.

This summer, the St. George Family Youth Center will open, providing a safe place for the children and families of Isla Vista. The center serves youth in grades six through 12, with bilingual and bicultural after-school services that include tutoring, field trips and leadership training.

A Community Collaboration Award was also presented to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, who have donated over $364,000 to the YMCA’s Open Doors Scholarship.  The generosity of the SYBCI enables many to opportunities that may not otherwise arise since the YMCA does not turn people away due to an inability to pay. 

The Chumash have supported CI YMCA branches with contributions and volunteer support towards facility upgrades, supporting basketball tournaments and providing ongoing opportunities for enhancing the lives of all kids.

Joe Dolaskie won a Program Excellence Award for his role in the Youth Robotics program that develops teamwork and critical thinking skills for students. Additionally, the Stuart C. Gildred YMCA was recognized for its role in hosting the Youth Robotics program that won first place in a regional tournament in November 2014 in Santa Maria.

Three new directors were also recognized for doing outstanding work at the organization for at least six months and not more than two years, including Meghan Rourke, Noah’s Anchorage shelter director at the Youth and Family Services YMCA; John Crowell, sports and teen program director at Stuart C. Gildred; and Jane Gama Noyes, Montecito Family YMCA director of health and wellness.

Since April 2014, Noyes has helped increase program revenue over 20-percent in her department. She told Noozhawk that what motivates and inspires her efforts is in actively working with local youth.

“I am inspired every day by what I do. The Y has granted me opportunities to do what I do best--make connections and build community. The Y was there for me in 2012 when I was in need of a community, and now I am able to pay back with my work and passion,” Noyes said. “I am blessed and truly honored to be recognized in a room of my peers.”

Rourke has worked with Youth and Family Services YMCA since 2009, has been director of Noah’s Anchorage since October 2014, and last summer joined the Santa Barbara County Human Trafficking Task Force.

The Noah’s Anchorage program provides a warm bed, hot meals and 24-hour access to counseling for youth ages 10 to 17, as well as a place for parents to come with their children when a cooling off period is needed, and before parents may resort to violence or turning their child away.

The passion and dedication of Crowell has served him over the past two years to become a strong mentor and role model for the teens.

Lompoc YMCA board member Raymundo Maya was presented with a Golden Triangle of Distinguished Service for his voice serving the Hispanic-Latino community. Maya’s efforts have helped secure contributions and connections for special events and the annual campaign, and with Vive La Vida Sana — Healthy Living Family Night, providing information on family activities and diabetes.

Additionally, another Golden Triangle, the highest honor for outstanding service, was given to Andy Grant, Montecito board of managers and CIYMCA board of directors, utilizing his background in operations and marketing to provide a smooth transition in the rebranding efforts of the national YMCA to CIYMCA.

The Channel Islands YMCA is a charitable organization that provides programs based upon Christian principles to men, women and children of all ages, races, religious beliefs and economic status to develop and enrich the spirit, mind and body. The success of this mission is based on a dedication to youth development by nurturing the potential of every child and teen, with a focus on healthy living and social responsibility to support the community.

Click here for more information about the Channel Islands YMCA. Click here for information about ways to donate.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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