Joined for a Solution: United Way of SB Thanks Supporters at 94th Annual Awards Ceremony

Awards Presented to Outstanding Individuals and Organizations in the Santa Barbara Community

Yessica Arroyo was struggling in school the first time she walked into United Way of Santa Barbara County’s (UWSBC) Fun in the Sun summer learning program as a young camper.

But as program staff and volunteers cheered her on, cared for her and gave her the extra lessons she needed over the next nine summers as a camper and counselor in training, Arroyo began to see for the first time that college was a real possibility.

And as she stood to applause during UWSBC’s recent 94th Annual Awards celebration, the young professional had come light years since that first summer, having graduated from UCLA and now serving as an admissions counselor at UCSB.

“You are the supporters making that critical difference in Yessica’s life and in the lives of thousands of other students,” Steve Ortiz, UWSBC president/CEO told the 160-plus volunteers, supporters and others at Four Seasons Resort the Biltmore.

“We thank you for the countless hours and heroic efforts you’ve put into making Santa Barbara County a better place,” he said.

In total, volunteers and organizations joined together to raise more than $3.5 million. The ceremony paid tribute to the people and organizations that have helped make UWSBC’s community programs and activities a success.

UWSBC presented 22 awards to supporters who played a key role in the success of its 2016 campaign and activities, such as Fun in the Sun, United for Literacy and United for Financial Empowerment.

Among the recipients was Harding University Partnership School Principal Veronica Binkley, who won the Community Impact Individual of the Year Award. Binkley said she felt a bit odd accepting an award from UWSBC.

She said she felt the roles should be reversed, following the difference she has seen on campus with the implementation of United Way’s Power Reading curriculum, Kindergarten Success Institutes, and other programs.

Binkley particularly noted the enthusiasm students now have for reading, with some students logging more than a million words read and proudly boasting their accomplishments.
The evening’s presenters were Catherine Remak (K-LITE), Jim Brown (superintendent of College School District & United Way Board member), and Janet Garufis (chairman/CEO, Montecito Bank & Trust).
Awards and honors presented:

United for Health Partner of the Year: Direct Relief International
Outstanding Day of Caring Partner: Bob Uradnicek
Outstanding Fun in the Sun Individual of the Year: Lina Kim, UCSB
Outstanding Fun in the Sun Organization of the Year: Lockheed Martin
Financial Empowerment Partner of the Year: AARP
United For Literacy Individual of the Year: Kim Curtis, Oak Valley Elementary School
United For Literacy Organization of the Year: Wood-Claeyssens Foundation
Community Impact Individual of the Year: Veronica Binkley, Harding University Partnership School           
Community Impact Organization of the Year: Goleta Union School District
Outstanding Leadership Workplace:  Cottage Health
Outstanding Employee Campaign Manager 1-100 Employees: Alyssa Somavia of Damitz, Brooks, Nightingale, Turner & Morrisset
Outstanding Employee Campaign Manager 100-250 Employees: Andrew Comeaux – Community West Bank   
Outstanding Employee Campaign Manager More than 250 Employees: Kevin Nelson – Cottage Health           
Outstanding Division Award Education: Goleta Union School District
Outstanding Division Award Public: City of Santa Barbara
Outstanding Division Award High Tech: Lockheed Martin
Outstanding Division Award Business: AGIA Affinity Services
Outstanding Division Award Finance: City National Bank
Outstanding Division Award Health: Cottage Health
Outstanding Division Award Professionals: Evans, Hardy + Young
Most Outstanding Employee and Corporate Campaign: Montecito Bank & Trust
2015-17 Community Campaign Chair: George Leis
Previously Recognized Awardees:

Alexis de Tocqueville Award for Outstanding Philanthropy: Geoffrey and Polly Bloomingdale         
Outstanding Volunteer of Time, Talent & Treasure for Individual Leadership Giving: Lance Connor and Nancy Werner
Over 40 years of outstanding volunteer service to United Way of Santa Barbara County: Blas Garza
Recognized at a June 1 ceremony: Legacy Supporter of the Year: Judy Goodbody, Dr. Ursula Henderson
For more about UWSBC and contributing to the organization’s efforts, visit

— Angel Pacheco/Chris Davis for United Way.