Sunday, January 21 , 2018, 3:05 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Foundation Marks Commitment to North County With New Santa Maria Office

Office on South Miller Street will have full-time staff for foundation's philanthropic work

Phil Alvarado, retired Santa Maria-Bonita School District superintendent and board member for the Santa Barbara Foundation, talks during the ceremony for the organization’s new North County office in Santa Maria. At right are Chris Slaughter and Diane Adam from the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, one of several nonprofits represented Wednesday. Click to view larger
Phil Alvarado, retired Santa Maria-Bonita School District superintendent and board member for the Santa Barbara Foundation, talks during the ceremony for the organization’s new North County office in Santa Maria. At right are Chris Slaughter and Diane Adam from the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, one of several nonprofits represented Wednesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A longtime dream became reality with the opening of the Santa Barbara Foundation’s North County office in Santa Maria, a key milestone to further foster the work of nonprofit organizations.

Dozens of foundation employees, board members, nonprofit representatives and supporters gathered Wednesday morning to celebrate the establishment of the office on South Miller Street.

Talks about creating a full-time office in northern Santa Barbara County occurred for 10 years, according to Jim Morouse, Santa Barbara Foundation Board of Trustees chair. 

“I’m pinching myself that we’re here today and have this wonderful place to share with the community and to really embed ourselves here in Santa Maria,”  Morouse said. “I think this really shows that we’re walking the talk about supporting this really important area of our county.”’

President and Chief Executive Officer Ron Gallo noted the foundation’s long involvement through affiliate committees in Santa Maria and Lompoc. For years, Kathy Simas managed the affiliate's philanthropic and marketing activities while Lynette Muscio, director of development, later joined the efforts.

“They were kind of holding down the fort as we were evolving our presence here,” Gallo said.

“Before, it was always about us coming up to visit,” Gallo said “But the rest of us were visiting, and that just wasn’t what  a countywide community foundation should be about.”

Kathy Simas, North County director of the Santa Barbara Foundation, talks to well-wishers Wednesday at a ceremony celebrationg the opening of a North County office in Santa Maria. Click to view larger
Kathy Simas, North County director of the Santa Barbara Foundation, talks to well-wishers Wednesday at a ceremony celebrationg the opening of a North County office in Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The new office at 2625 S. Miller St., Suite 101 will be open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.. While three people will work out of office on a regular basis, the facility will give South County staff a place to use as a home base when in the North County. 

Gallo said he intends to spent one full day a week at the Santa Maria office.

One of the newer board members, Phil Alvarado, retired Santa Maria-Bonita School District superintendent, told the crowd that being involved in the organization reminded him those who work to help others need to be nurtured and assisted continuously.

“The support comes in various forms,” he said. “The Santa Barbara Foundation North County headquarters is one such bold move. It took courage, persistence, countless conversations and tireless planning with a purpose. This building is intended to honor your efforts. It is to help you realize your organization’s vision.”

The Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization is among groups helped by the foundation.

“The Santa Barbara Foundation is not only a local funder, but a local partner in our work,” said Ashley Costa, executive director the Community Healthcare Organization. 

Jim Morouse, Santa Barbara Foundation Board of Trustees chair, talks during a celebration of the organization’s new North County office. Click to view larger
Jim Morouse, Santa Barbara Foundation Board of Trustees chair, talks during a celebration of the organization’s new North County office. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

In addition to helping fund creative crosswalks in Lompoc, the foundation also has supported the Community Caregiver Initiative, she said. 

“They’re integral in a lot of the transformative work that we do in the Lompoc Valley,” she said. “They’re very forward-thinking and willing to support grassroots efforts based on the specific needs of the Lompoc community.

“So they understand there are specific nuances and differences between the wants and needs of Lompoc versus Santa Barbara and Santa Maria,” she added.

The Santa Barbara Foundation began in 1928, in the second wave of community foundations created more than a century ago to create an egalitarian form of philanthropy, Gallo said.

Until then, foundations were restricted to private organizations such as those created by families.

“But how about trying to make everybody a philanthropist? And that’s what a community foundation is — you can be a person of great means or you can be really anyone who has a passion for their community,” Gallo said. 

Ron Gallo, president and chief executive officer of the Santa Barbara Foundation, laughs with Phil Alvarado, foundation board member and retired Santa Maria-Bonita School District superintendent, Wednesday morning. Click to view larger
Ron Gallo, president and chief executive officer of the Santa Barbara Foundation, laughs with Phil Alvarado, foundation board member and retired Santa Maria-Bonita School District superintendent, Wednesday morning. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The foundation also works to build leadership to strengthen nonprofit organizations in the communities.

“And, most of all, we have our eye on identifying the most pressing problems and challenges and,opportunities for the entire county,” Gallo said. “And we do that, not from one office or even two, but collectively with you all and others because you are the community knowledge as well as our incredible staff.” 

So far this year, the Santa Barbara Foundation has awarded over $15 million to support to nearly 700 nonprofits across the county, and Gallo thanked the groups for their work.

“Foundations are not very much without the energy, the commitment, the dedication that is provided by nonprofits every day,” he said. “It’s a joyous day for me personally and for the organization.”

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.

Lynette Muscio and Kathy Simas discuss the Santa Barbara Foundation’s new North County office in Santa Maria as dozens of colleagues listen. Click to view larger
Lynette Muscio and Kathy Simas discuss the Santa Barbara Foundation’s new North County office in Santa Maria as dozens of colleagues listen.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
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