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PathPoint was among the organizations honored by the Nonprofit Support Center. From left are PathPoint’s Margaret Rose; NSC board president Pam Hamlin of the Hutton Foundation; Elaine Mah Best, PathPoint development director; PathPoint board member Mary Ellen Tiffany of Montecito Bank & Trust; Jennifer Newbold, PathPoint mental health division director; Alana Walczak, PathPoint South Santa Barbara division director; and PathPoint public relations manager Nadia Osborn. (Mollie Helmuth / Noozhawk photo)

The third annual BizBuzz hosted some colorful vendors at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort‘s outdoor Plaza del Sol last week but the networking was the real story of the day. The event was organized by the Nonprofit Support Center and featured exhibits by local nonprofit organizations and collaborating business partners.

“This is just our way of trying to offer another resource to the nonprofit community,” said NSC executive director Lisa Holden. “By inviting businesses and agencies to come here, we feel it gives nonprofits the opportunity to meet many vendors in one setting.”

The event began with the Leadership in Action awards ceremony, recognizing three categories of leadership in the nonprofit sector.

Venoco Inc. was given the Corporate Citizenship award for its investment within the community. The company’s philanthropic branch, Venoco Community Partnership, makes grants for local nonprofit groups.

VCP is made up of 12 Venoco employees who actively organize support for programs such as the Boys & Girls Club of Carpinteria, the Lobero Theatre Foundation and the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.

The Nonprofit/Business Partnership award went to the collaborative efforts between Surgical Eye Expeditions International and the Santa Barbara Eyeglass Factory for their Santa Barbara Vision Care Program.

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Jamie Haggar of Coastal Copy makes his pitch. (Mollie Helmuth / Noozhawk photo)

SBVCP was formed by SEE International in the late 1980s to provide free vision care to patients who can not otherwise afford treatment. The goal is to detect potential problems such as glaucoma and blindness by early treatment.

The Eyeglass Factory has donated an estimated $1 million worth of custom-made prescription eyeglasses to vision care program patients.

The Community Collaboration award went to the Association of Local Leaders for Community Mental Health, a coalition of local leaders in the mental health services arena that was formed in February.

We were facing budget cuts in Santa Barbara County in delivering mental health services to mentally ill adults,” said Jennifer Newbold, vice president and director of mental health services for PathPoint.

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It wasn’t all business at the Nonprofit Support Center’s BizBuzz. Some of it was fun and gaming. (Mollie Helmuth / Noozhawk photo)

“We worked with the county Board of Supervisors — we were there meeting after meeting,” Newbold said. “They did fund us $5 million, so a number of organizations did receive funds, but there is still a deficit.”

PathPoint is a nonprofit that helps to employ adults with mental illness in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Los Angeles and Kern counties. The organization had an exhibit at BizzBuzz and is among the nonprofits in the ALL4CMH alliance.

This year was the second year the Leadership in Action awards were distributed and the first year the event will be held in two locations. The San Luis Obispo BizzBuzz is scheduled for Oct. 3 at Veterans Hall, 801 Grand Ave.

Several optional business seminars followed the awards ceremony, covering technology, employee benefits, grassroots fundraising and other relevant topics.

The NSC has three locations, covering 400 nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria. Its main office is in Old Town Goleta at 5638 Hollister Ave., Suite 200. Click here for more information.

“We are trying to reach out more. We focus on leadership, development, planning and management,” said Holden. “Whatever they need to sustain themselves and stay strong.”

Noozhawk intern Mollie Helmuth can be reached at