On March 8, community members gathered at the Coral Casino to honor Jon Clark and Janet Garufis, this year’s recipients of the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Man and Woman of the Year Awards. The awards honor individuals for their extraordinary service and volunteerism in Santa Barbara.
More than 300 guests turned out for the 74th annual luncheon, including many past recipients of the awards and many other leaders from the business, nonprofit, and government sectors. It was a quintessential sunny Santa Barbara day, which made for a lovely reception at the water’s edge on La Pacifica Terrace. Guests adjourned to the Ballroom for lunch, where President and CEO Ron Gallo welcomed the guests and discussed the importance, especially in these times, of having empathy and how through volunteering, we come into contact with the experiences of others and develop that sense of empathy. He described Garufis and Clark as “empathetic, graceful, beautiful, honest, kind and courageous,” and stated that they “have and continue to make good stuff happen every day.”
Garufis, President and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, has held leadership positions with the United Way, Sansum Clinic, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, the Scholarship Foundation, and the American Heart Association, and has supported a very long list of other organizations.
Clark, President of the Bower Foundation, has held leadership positions with Cottage Health, Community Environmental Council, and Storyteller Children’s Center. Among the organizations he has been actively involved with are the Alliance for Living and Dying Well, Direct Relief, and the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region.
In introducing Clark, Ron Werft shared accolades from many community leaders and noted that a constant theme in Clark’s life was “simply reaching out, getting the right people together around a community need, and probing is there a better way to do it, and then staying with it and funding it.” He concluded by sharing that “Jon is not afraid to swim upstream, and when he does, he can change the direction of the river.” In accepting the award, Clark stated that he was humbled and inspired to do more and to do better, now that his name is on the list of recipients.
In introducing Garufis, Maryan Schall proclaimed that “no one deserves the award more than Janet.” Schall noted that in addition to the many leadership roles Garufis has assumed, she also gets involved in vital everyday work of organizations, reading to girls at Girls Inc, serving soup at the Foodbank’s Empty Bowls event, and serving in many other capacities. In summary, Schall stated that Garufis is “the epitome of giving back to the community and she is JUST PLAIN NICE.” In accepting the award, Janet shared that she doesn’t “know how to say thank you for being recognized for doing something I love.”
Nominations for the awards can be made by anyone; the decisions are made by a Nominations Committee and a Selection Committee formed by the Santa Barbara Foundation and comprising foundation trustees, nonprofit leaders, and community leaders.
Founded in 1928, the Santa Barbara Foundation is committed to building philanthropy, strengthening the nonprofit sector, and solving community problems. Last year, it awarded nearly $23 million to 971 nonprofits. For more information about the Santa Barbara Foundation, go to sbfoundation.org.
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By Gail Arnold