[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

Leaders and innovators from the local business and technology community gathered at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort for the 19th Annual South Coast Business & Technology Awards, a highly anticipated annual event that is always well-attended.

More than 700 people gathered to recognize South Coast businesses and technical professionals, as well as honor outstanding local students attending Santa Barbara City College, UC Santa Barbara and Westmont College for achievements and awards provided by the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

The Scholarship Foundation is a vehicle for generosity to reach goals of encouraging and supporting students who are motivated to achieve a higher-education degree.

As the evening approached, the stage was set in the beautiful Plaza Del Sol rotunda as guests dressed in business attire mingled and networked during an opening reception in view of the glistening Pacific Ocean.

When guests finished arriving from local businesses and schools, the dinner began inside the Grand Ballroom with a welcome and thank you from steering committee co-chairwoman Danna McGrew, CPA, partner at Bartlett, Pringle & Wolf LLP.

The event attracted nearly 80 corporate sponsors, including Noozhawk, which ensured that the Scholarship Foundation received more than $130,000 in net proceeds this year to support local students majoring in business and technology fields at UCSB, Westmont and SBCC. More than 600 scholarship awards totaling more than $1.45 million already have been provided for local youths and a growing pool of local, college-educated future employees.

Following dinner, the buzz of anticipation grew within the crowd, eager to view the five prestigious awards presented for 2013.

The Excellence in Service award to Westmont College was accepted by president Dr. Gayle Beebe, who has raised $100 million for the school since he began in 2007. Westmont is a Santa Barbara liberal arts college featuring 26 majors, 11 pre-professional programs and a fifth-year credential program, and serving 1,355 students.

Barbara Rosenblum, founder of Strategic Healthcare Programs, received the Entrepreneur of the Year award and told Noozhawk about the 15-year-old boot-strap company started in Santa Barbara that collects health-care information “from all over the country to help health-care providers improve the quality of the care they give by feeding them instant real time information and data.”

“I had to boot-strap my company, and I went into it because I was young enough and naïve enough not to really know what could go wrong,” Rosenblum said. “But it really worked out. I worked so hard to get where I am. We were 40th in the market when we started, and now we’re pretty much the last man standing.”

The Company of the Year honor went to Sonos, a producer of wireless home music systems and HiFi music players headquartered in Santa Barbara and employing 600 people globally.

Joanne Funari, who admitted some nervousness to Noozhawk before accepting the honor of Executive of the Year, spoke to the crowd about her team at Business First Bank and her father, Joe, who gave her basic business principles.

“This is an amazing event, and the thing that’s so fabulous about this event is the honorees speak from their heart and we learn something from everyone,” said Funari, a founding member of Business First Bank who serves as executive vice president and market area president for Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The Pioneer Award was presented to Larry Barels, founder of businesses in the fields of advertising, real estate development and technology, including WaveFront Technologies, Driveway and Aqueous.

Barels and his wife have been regular contributors to the Scholarship Foundation and are very involved in many of the charities involving families, children and education in Santa Barbara. He told Noozhawk about the unique dynamics of the event.

“It’s wonderful to be in this environment and see so many people that I’ve worked with and seen in the community for so many years,” Barels said. “And it’s just a wonderful opportunity — you’re really humbled to be with these people.”

The Excellence in Service award goes to a company providing strong customer and community service, while the Entrepreneur of the Year honor is presented to an individual with a successful career of entrepreneurial endeavors. The Company of the Year is a market leader that demonstrates profitability and strong growth. Additionally, the Executive of the Year is for a senior executive who has increased company profitability with strengthened market presence and a vigorous passion for the local community. Finally, an individual with a long history of outstanding leadership or innovations in business or technology on the South Coast receives the Pioneer Award.

Since 1962, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara has helped motivated and deserving students with scholarships and counseling to positively affect the lives of local youth.

The foundation provides financial aid advising services to more than 25,000 students and parents each year. These impressive feats have earned the foundation a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a national independent evaluator of nonprofits.

Tuition and fees at public four-year colleges have increased at an average annual rate of 6 percent beyond inflation over the past decade, and the foundation’s mission has resulted in the largest community-based program in the United States to help bridge this gap.

San Marcos High School graduate Filipp Kozachuk, 20, was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and has been a Santa Barbara resident since age 2. Kozachuk’s introduction to the Scholarship Foundation began at high school, and with its critical support he’s now entering his junior year as an economics and business major at Westmont. He spoke to Noozhawk about the impact that the organization has on young people’s lives.

“It is essential to be able to afford college. I think on one end it’s the financial contribution that helps a lot, but even more so it’s the community of people that are networked within the Scholarship Foundation,” Kozachuk said. “I’ve met so many people, and I’ve interned at people’s companies that I’ve met at various meetings.”

The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara does not charge an administrative fee, and 100 percent of contributions to support scholarships goes directly to deserving students.

Each year the SCB&T Awards are made possible through community support from businesses and individuals, and the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara graciously expresses gratitude to the 2013 sponsors:

» Founding Sponsor: Union Bank

» Executive Level Sponsor: Cooley

» Director Level Sponsors: Bartlett Pringle & Wolf LLP, Cox, Fred and Linda Gluck, Montecito Bank & Trust, Rabobank and Strategic Healthcare Programs

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.