award ceremony
Jessica Wishan, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County, speaks during the Heroes Appreciation Celebration on Monday afternoon. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County awarded this year’s exceptional volunteers during the Heroes Appreciation Celebration on Monday afternoon.

Nearly 200 guests gathered for the two-hour commemoration at Deckers Outdoor Corporation in Goleta.

The special evening was dedicated to honoring the organization’s volunteers and supporters, as well as recognizing the community’s resilience during the recovery efforts after January’s destructive and deadly debris flow in Montecito.

Habitat’s mission year-round is to build strength and self-reliance through affordable homes, said Jessica Wishan, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County. 

This year, the organization did that, in addition to widespread disaster clean-up and relief in Montecito, Wishan noted.

Swarms of volunteers turned out with shovels and N-95 masks to provide much-needed home repairs after flash flooding and thick mud swept through Montecito neighborhoods.

Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity have helped the Montecito recovery process by removing an estimated 42,000 tons of debris and mud from the debris flow disaster area since January, Wishan said.

Nearly 22,000 hours of service and nearly 3,000 volunteers were supporting Habitat for Humanity SSBC from July 2017 to June 2018, she said.

In addition, more than 1,200 households donated to the ReStore, a nonprofit home improvement store offering new and gently used building materials, appliances, furniture and home decor.

“The Heroes Appreciation Celebration was a valuable time to bring our community together to celebrate our heroes from the past year — our volunteers, donors, community partners, board and first responders, who so selflessly gave their time to help our community,” Wishan told Noozhawk.

“We are grateful for volunteers across every component of our organization —  from skilled volunteer labor at our affordable housing build site in Carpinteria, volunteers in the Montecito disaster recovery area, helping organize and sell home improvement items at our ReStore, as well as those helping us raise funds through committee work — volunteers sit at the core of our mission.” 

award ceremony

Rose Levy, Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County’s program manager, gives the Affiliate Volunteer of the Year award to Terra Taylor at Monday’s ceremony. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

At the gathering, Habitat recognized community partnerships and presented awards to more than 15 volunteers including: Terra Taylor for Affiliate Volunteer of the Year; Construction Volunteer of the Year to Doug Mershon, Claude Dorais and Robert Wilson; ReStore Volunteer of the Year to Arlei De Silva and Sourav Medya; the the “Get it Done” award to Doug Wood; and the Montecito Mavericks award to Kelly Avina, Bob Burtness, Sam Carr, Bill Ferguson, Gary Korte, Karen Lyons, Jerome Marchand, Steve Congdon, Hobie Smith, Mary Jo Swalley, Eric Larsen and Rebecca McCloud.

When people volunteer at Habitat, Wishan said, it’s also an opportunity to learn more on the community’s affordable housing crisis and provide tools on how to be a part of the solution.

Habitat for Humanity SSBC works to eliminate substandard housing by constructing, rehabilitating and preserving residences and by providing resources to help residents improve their housing conditions, according to the nonprofit.

Wishan said the strength of Habitat for Humanity SSBC is a reflection of the support received from the community, partner organizations and area businesses.

“In any area of our organization, volunteers build organizational capacity, contribute meaningfully to the community, and have a lasting impression on the individuals we serve,” Wishan said.

“The breadth, scope and capacity of our work would not be possible without the humble dedication of our volunteers.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.