Montecito Bank & Trust grant reception
The nonprofit Santa Barbara Choral SOciety receives a $2,000 donation from Montecito Bank & Trust during the bank’s annual Anniversary Grants awards reception Wednesday evening. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Montecito Bank & Trust provided $20,000 to 10 area nonprofits hand-selected by bank employees during the business’s Anniversary Grants celebration on Wednesday.

The bank’s downtown State Street office was buzzing with excitement as supporters and employees working in branches from Solvang to Westlake Village gathered to celebrate the 27th consecutive Anniversary Grants awards reception.

Bank employees —  who volunteered more than 5,500 hours in 2018 — gave $2,000 to each grantee after they nominated the organization, campaigned for his or hers to win and voted for the nonprofit they value most.

“Anniversary Grants is about the spirit of volunteerism of the wonderful associates of Montecito Bank & Trust,” President and CEO Janet Garufis said before passing the microphone to employees, who briefly introduced awardees. “This is one of our favorite celebrations.”

The bank’s chairman and co-founder Michael Towbes, who died in April 2017, established the grants program in 1993 to highlight the nonprofit organizations Montecito Bank & Trust employees support and broaden the bank’s commitment to the communities it serves. His wife, Anne Towbes, was a guest at the gathering.

Corporate philanthropy is a cornerstone of the bank’s business model, Garufis said.

“It’s through events like this that we continue his legacy, and the values that our bank was founded on through his leadership,” Garufis said of Towbes. “We miss him every day, but we are committed to his mission of making the communities that we serve better places to live and work.”

In addition to the monetary donation, recipients received a one-minute promotional video produced by Cox Communications showcasing each nonprofit’s work and goals. 

Montecito Bank & Trust grant reception

Montecito Bank & Trust President and CEO Janet Garufis welcomes guests to the Anniversary Grants reception Wednesday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Awardees thanked MB&T for its generosity, and nonprofit leaders said the money will help support the local agencies.

“The impact will be immeasurable,” said Kim Olson, executive director of Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara.

The grant funding will go a long way, and will be used to purchase important items or services, said Angels Foster Care Executive Director Holly Carmody.

“This $2,000 buys a lot for our babies,” she said. “We could buy 20 brand new car seats for infants with $2,000, and every one of our babies that are placed next year could come home in safety and comfort in those seats. 

“We could train up to six new families with this grant, and that would ensure that six babies — or maybe more if we place sibling sets — have safe homes and loving families,” Carmody continued.

The 2019 grant recipients were:

» Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara, which empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Santa Barbara County with opportunities, support and fostering belonging. 

» Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, an organization that supports kids in need, matching them with foster parents, and keeps the children in a home until reunification or adoption.

» C.A.R.E.4Paws, a nonprofit aiming to educe pet overpopulation, keep animals out of shelters and improve the quality of life for pets and owners in the county.

» Channel Islands Marine and Wildlife Institute, which has a mission to positively impact conversation through marine mammal rescuer, rehabilitation, research and education to promote human and ocean health. 

» Crane Country Day School, a Santa Barbara school dedicated to providing an experimental education characterized by a thoughtful balance of creative expression and academic challenge. 

» Elverhøj Museum of History and Art, which preserves and exhibits the Danish history and culture of Solvang, and to promote the arts. 

» Isla Vista Youth Projects, which provides recreational, education and social programs for families and children regardless of income. 

» Kids & Families Together, a nonprofit providing services for families and individuals in foster care, kinship care and adoption in Ventura County.

» Santa Barbara Choral Society, which fosters the appreciation for the choral arts through performances of classic and modern works at the highest artistic level, while outreaching to the community’s underserved. 

» Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden Foundation, which is dedicated to the discovery of understanding the natural world and appreciation of nature. 

At the event, Matt Genovese of Run2FundSB, was recognized as the “Community Hero” recipient. 

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