Thinking of Goleta the Goodland conjured up images of lemon groves, avocado orchards, and even the odd shopping center, but behind it all is an indomitable community spirit. Sponsored by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce, the Thursday night event brought together Goletans at Bacara’s banquet hall to honor Goleta’s Finest of 2008. “People in Goleta understand the concept of a village,” said Goleta Woman of the Year Colette Hadley, who is the Executive Director of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and was also honored last year as one of the Independent‘s Local Heroes. “It’s a spirit of cooperation and fun.”
Dressed to the nines in the luxurious environs of Bacara Resort & Spa, the spirit of cooperation that Hadley spoke of manifested itself as a tightly woven community fabric, one strand supporting the other. Amir Abo-Shaeer – winner of Educator of the Year for grades 7-12 – embodied this kind of cooperation and deep involvement in the community. Having grown up in Goleta, he graduated from Dos Pueblos High School and UCSB, going on to become an engineer. Eventually, he decided to become a teacher, and formed the highly successful Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy. “The decision to become a teacher after getting multiple degrees in engineering and physics was tough, but it was the best decision I ever made,” he said.
Having spent 100 hours performing community service while in high school, Bishop Garcia Diego High School student Stacie Rayburn Raichelle is involved in a wide range of activities, which led to her selection as Goleta’s Student of the Year. Raichelle is no ordinary student though. She persevered through the state foster care system, teaching herself how to read along the way. The four sport athlete was unable to attend the banquet though, as she is currently in Israel participating in the March of the Living Holocaust education drive and Israeli Independence Day celebration.
Though not new to the media world by any means, Noozhawk.com founder and CEO Bill Macfadyen accepted the award for Entrepreneur of the Year. Although his last venture – the South Coast Beacon – went belly-up after receiving the California Newspaper Publishers’ Association (CNPA) General Excellence Award in 2003, Macfayden decided to keep plugging away, this time with an internet only news website. “I’ve received the CNPA’s highest award, but this feels so much better,” he said. “To be recognized by your journalism peers is one thing, but, well, they don’t have any money. You have our word that we will continue to cover this community with the enthusiasm and respect that it deserves.”
The awards presented are as follows:
Small Business of the Year: Anderson Systems
Large Business of the Year: Citrix Online
Entrepreneur of the Year: Bill Macfayden, Noozhawk.com
Special Recognition: UCSB Venture Acceleration Initiative
Student of the Year: Stacie Rayburn Raichelle
Educator of the Year: Amir Abo-Shaeer
Public Servant of the Year: Sgt. Greg Nordyke (ret., SB County Sheriff Dept.)
Human Services Professional of the Year: Joyce McCullough
Volunteer of the Year: Christine LeBon
Man of the Year: Merlyn Cummings
Woman of the Year: Colette Hadley