On March 14, the downtown branch of Montecito Bank & Trust was overflowing with employees and nonprofit leaders who had gathered to celebrate the bank’s 42nd anniversary with the presentation of the annual Anniversary Grants.
While not on the same scale as its Community Dividends Awards, which doles out $1 million each November to area nonprofits selected by Chairman Michael Towbes, this program is yet another example of MB&T’s incredible generosity to the community and is especially noteworthy for its selection process: the employees choose the grantees.
Any bank employee may nominate any area nonprofit for a grant. Each employee has five votes to cast for any of the nominated nonprofits and employees are encouraged to rally colleagues to support their causes. The 10 organizations with the most votes each receive a $2,000 Anniversary Grant. Since the program’s inception in 1993, more than $300,000 has been granted.
In addition to the cash grants, MB&T partners with Cox Communications for the production of a promotional video about each organization, which the organization receives for use in its marketing efforts.
This year’s grant recipients are:
- 2nd Story Associates
- Alzheimer’s Association, California Central Chapter
- Kids Helping Kids
- Make-A-Wish Tri Counties
- Planned Parenthood, California Central Coast
- The Salvation Army of Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse
- Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center
- Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society
- Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation
There was a strong celebratory feeling in the air and a warm sense of community as bank employees and nonprofit leaders mingled. President and CEO Janet Garufis, who was just anointed Woman of the Year by the Santa Barbara Foundation last week, served as the evening’s emcee and radiated her usual warmth and enthusiasm. She stated that “the Anniversary Grants are really about the spirit of volunteerism and the wonderful employees who make Montecito Bank & Trust the community treasure that it has grown to be.” Garufis noted that the bank created the program because it wants employees to have a direct voice in the direction of its corporate giving, and “for the last 24 years, our associates jump at the chance to show their support for the organizations that mean so much to them … and we are a much better organization because of their commitment, their dedication, and their hard work.”
According to Garufis, MB&T, with $1.3 billion in total assets, has “a tradition of corporate philanthropy and a tradition of employee involvement that is second to none … we believe that we set the gold standard for corporate philanthropy and it is our intention to continue doing that forever and ever.” In addition to corporate giving, employees in 2016 gave of themselves, more than 1800 hours of volunteer service to area nonprofits.
The employees who nominated each winner introduced the nonprofit he or she selected, then the short Cox videos were shown, and a representative of each organization accepted its award. Words of gratitude were expressed by all grantees including Elsa Granados, the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center. She shared that “we all know that Montecito Bank & Trust is a premier bank in our community, but in addition, with Mr. Towbes leadership, we also know you to be a business that creates community and takes care of its community. So thank you for modeling that for others.” Yes indeed, thank you Montecito, Bank & Trust for all you do for our community.
For more information about Montecito Bank & Trust, go to montecito.bank.
Send event invites to Gail at society@Independent.com.
By Gail Arnold