Janet Garufis, chair and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, talks with Dean Noble, left, and Richard Block during Monday’s 20th Annual Community Dividends Program Luncheon in Santa Barbara.
Janet Garufis, chair and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, talks with Dean Noble, left, and Richard Block during Monday’s 20th Annual Community Dividends Program Luncheon in Santa Barbara. (Montecito Bank & Trust photo)

Montecito Bank & Trust held its 20th Annual Community Dividends Program Luncheon on Monday to award a total of $2 million to 200 nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. 

“Corporate philanthropy is so much more than writing checks,” Janet Garufis, chair and CEO of the bank, said at the event held at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

“On this Monday before Thanksgiving, we are here to celebrate you and the service and dedication of all 200 non-profit organizations represented here today,” Garufis told those assembled in the hotel’s rotunda. “You advocate and care for our most vulnerable, feed the hungry, heal the sick and comfort the lonely, house the homeless, educate and inspire our children, and lift our spirits with music and arts that remind us of the beauty around us.”

More than 300 people attended the gathering, according to bank associate Briana Aguilar, who said it was the biggest one the bank has ever held.

The bank initially announced that it would be giving $1 million to the nonprofit organizations, but Garufis shared some good news with the attendees.

“Our board of directors has committed to doubling this year’s Community Dividend Investment to $2 million,” Garufis said.

The bank has given $21 million in community dividends over the course of 20 years.

Community Dividends was envisioned and introduced by the late Michael Towbes, the bank’s founder, to honor the many nonprofit organizations and their significant work to improve all aspects of the communities it serves.

The bank also awarded five nonprofits an additional $100,000 each as the recipients of the 4th annual Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividends.

Monday’s 20th Annual Community Dividends Program Luncheon in Santa Barbara.

Attendees at Monday’s 20th Annual Community Dividends Program Luncheon in Santa Barbara. (Montecito Bank & Trust photo)

The five recipients of the impact dividends are CommUnify, People’s Self-Help Housing, Doctors Without Walls, the Pacific Pride Foundation and The Arc Foundation of Ventura County.

“I have to say that these five organizations stood out in a way that far exceeded anything else that we read,” Garufis said.

The $100,000 that CommUnify received will go towards its Family Self-Sufficiency Program, which provides intensive case management and coaching for up to one year, as well as economic empowerment education and targeted payment assistance such as rent, utilities and education costs.

The $100,000 that People’s Self-Help Housing received will go towards the Camino Scholars Program, which offers supplementary school support to over 600 K-12 students, who work with tutors on a one-to-one basis.

Santa Barbara Street Medicine Doctors Without Walls provides medical services for the homeless. By mid-2021, the organization had vaccinated 67% of the homeless population in Santa Barbara County.

With the money from the impact fund, the organization will hire a case manager to identify clients who have the greatest need, and work with clients on non-clinical resources such as rental assistance and food subsidies.

George Leis, president and COO of Montecito Bank & Trust, speaks at Monday’s 20th Annual Community Dividends Program Luncheon in Santa Barbara.

George Leis, president and COO of Montecito Bank & Trust, speaks at Monday’s 20th Annual Community Dividends Program Luncheon in Santa Barbara. (Montecito Bank & Trust photo)

Doctors Without Walls will also increase its telemedicine, and improve testing for diseases such as diabetes, according to Maggie Sanchez, founding member and director of Doctors Without Walls.

“We will treat the whole person with holistic medical care,” Sanchez said.

The $100,000 that Pacific Pride Foundation received will go towards expanding and improving its reach and accessibility, with the goal of being a bilingual organization by 2024 by introducing Spanish-English translation interpretation for all programs and organizational materials, hiring bilingual staff, and including members from the LatinX community at the management level as well as the recruiting board. 

“We do the work in the margins with the people who are not invested in,” said Kristin Flickinger, executive director for foundation. “And this is something that we have tried over the course of time to do with various degrees of success to break down these barriers around language.”

The Ark Foundation of Ventura County offers support to about 700 people in Ventura County with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The funding from the impact dividend will allow the foundation to expand its services to assist members ages 16 to 21 with job readiness and employment placement assistance.

The bank’s board of directors and associates spend a total of over 5,000 hours each year volunteering with many of the nonprofits.

Recipients of the 2022 Community Dividends included the Santa Barbara Foundation, MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, the Unity Shoppe, Inc., UCSB Arts & Lectures and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. 

Community Dividends and the Michael Towbes Community Impact Dividend aim to support organizations and programs that benefit low- and moderate-income individuals and families in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties that serve youth and education, social services, medical and health services, and the arts.

Noozhawk staff writer Grace Kitayama can be reached at gkitayama@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.