A dermatologist wrapping up his stint serving Santa Maria and a prolific volunteer in the community were recognized during an annual awards event undeterred by COVID-19 restrictions.
The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce hosted the virtual ceremony Thursday to recognize nine “truly amazing” award winners, including one surprise recipient.
“Like everything else this year, this program looks very different than normal,” said Edgar Gascon, new chairman of the board for the Chamber of Commerce. “We would have loved to spend an evening with you celebrating Santa Maria’s best and brightest. But most importantly, we want to make sure we took the time to honor our 2020 honorees.”
During the ceremony broadcast, Councilman Michael Moats, a Santa Maria Valley dermatologist, received the Robert F. Grogan Public Service Award, while Hugh Rafferty accepted the Robert P. Hatch Citizen of the Year Award.
The award given to Moats is named for a former city manager and recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the community through professional or volunteer work for a public agency.
Moats’ term on the council will end in December, culminating a four-year stint on the panel preceded by seven years serving on the Santa Maria Planning Commission.
He also has belonged to the Santa Maria Noontime Kiwanis Club, the Santa Maria Rotary Breakfast Club, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Maria Elks and other organizations.
Rafferty’s award — named for a retired Chamber of Commerce leader — goes to someone who exemplifies the spirit of Santa Maria and has made a noteworthy contribution to the community’s success.
Last year, CoastHills Credit Union, where Rafferty served on the board since 2004, deemed him a prolific volunteer for a broad selection of community organizations in the Santa Maria Valley and wider northern Santa Barbara County.
The former Marine spearheaded efforts to establish a Military Wall of Honor at the Santa Maria Public Airport, where he serves on the board of directors.
He also has served long-term appointments with Leadership Santa Maria Valley, the Chamber of Commerce and the Luis OASIS Senior Center.
The top nonprofit organization award went to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County. The organization gathers volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in court and social service proceedings.
The recipient of the Small Business of the Year Award was Care Connection, a company that provides nonemergency medical transportation with compassion, care and comfort for a variety of clients in need.
CoastHills Credit Union, which relocated its headquarters from Vandenberg Village to a new building in Santa Maria, received the Large Business of the Year Award.
Gary Burk of Costa De Oro Winery captured the Tourism Partner of the Year Award.
The Young Professional of the Year Award went to Krista Delia, chief operating officer for the Santa Maria Valley YMCA, while Paula Fuller earned the Ambassador of the Year Award.
Departing chairman Jean-luc Garon made a surprise presentation of the Chairman’s Award to Shannon Seifert, executive director of the Santa Maria Valley YMCA. He said Seifert represents what he considers to be the true spirit of Santa Maria.
At the end of the ceremony, Gascon, of Hacienda Realty, said the community and network of businesses must lean on one another during the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.
“As chamber president, I vow to be the fountain of resources and empower those who wish to impact our community through volunteer work and their business ventures,” he said. “As we find ourselves in a time of change and turmoil across our country, I strongly urge everyone to look at the community as the place to start change.
“Economic and social change can be ignited with the decisions and actions of one person.”
— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.