Saturday, February 17 , 2018, 1:23 pm | Fair 65º


UCP WORK, Inc. Salutes Phil Womble

Phil Womble with UCP WORK, Inc.’s Director of Supported Living Jennifer Sills.
Phil Womble with UCP WORK, Inc.’s Director of Supported Living Jennifer Sills. (UCP WORK, Inc. photo)

“Never give up” has been Phil Womble’s motto for many years. The longtime UCP WORK, Inc. board member and supported living services participant, born with cerebral palsy, moved out of Hillside House in 1990 and has been thrilled to have lived independently in Santa Barbara for the past 26 years.

Womble was a friend of the late UC Santa Barbara professor and Congressman Walter Capps, and his book, Never Give Up was required reading in the Congressman’s classroom.

Womble has been an ardent Gauchos fan (and inspiration to the athletes) since 1969 and is known today as “Mr. Gaucho,” having been inducted into the UCSB Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.

In 2008, UCSB administrators named the university’s new athletic hall of fame (funded by an anonymous donor) after Womble, and the building is now the “Phil Womble Hall of Champions.”

The man has been such an inspiration for the Gauchos that three athletic awards are now named after him. He was overwhelmed with pride and gratitude when the Gauchos baseball team reached the College World Series just last month, and he was invited to attend the opening match in Omaha, Neb.

Womble feels grateful to have had a wonderful woman, Beth, in his life for many years. The pair met at Hillside House, with Beth moving out of the facility to live independently just a short time after Phil. Beth passed away a few years ago, but Phil treasures memories of the 40 year relationship that the two shared.

Womble expressed his thoughts about UCP WORK, Inc. during a recent interview, stating that “the organization is amazing, with great staff. They do a lot of good things for me, and I am very grateful.”

With Womble’s 80th birthday falling September 2016, UCP WORK, Inc. would like to thank him for his support and participation of the organization, wish him a very happy birthday and thank him for inspiring so many to never give up.

UCP WORK, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing services to residents of the Tri-Counties with mental and/or physical disabilities so that they may live and work independently as contributing citizens within the community of their choice.

Founded in 1968 by the Kiwanis Club, UCP WORK, Inc. offers supported living, residential, employment and social enrichment programs throughout Santa Barbara County and serves over 500 residents with significant disabilities.

For more information, please visit

— Eryn M. Eckert is the director of community integration at UCP WORK, Inc.

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