The Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce held its 52nd Annual Community Awards Banquet on Saturday, January 30. At the Girls Inc. clubhouse, over a meal catered by Rincon Beach Club and Catering, business owners, community activists, and government officials spent an evening honoring those who, in the words of Chamber President Lynda Lang, “have the can-do attitude and they jump in and offer to help wherever help is needed.”

Most notably, the chamber announced the 2009 Carpinterian of the Year, 2009 Junior Carpinterian of the Year, and the 2009 Educators of the Year.

April Nunez and Becki Gonzales were honored as 2009 Educators of the Year. Nunez teaches English at Carpinteria Middle School. Gonzales teaches second and third grade at Summerland School.

Mariana Vega, a senior at Carpinteria High School, was named Junior Carpinterian of the Year, and awarded a $4,000 scholarship made of donations from the business and private sectors. Vega thanked the chamber for her support, and also took a moment to thank her family.

Next, taking the stage with tears in her eyes to accept the 2009 Carpinterian of the Year award, Karen Welty spoke of her passion for the Carpinteria community and about service. “Growing up in this community, we’re so fortunate to have a lot of people ahead of us to set such good examples,” Welty said. “I remember what my family gave back … and it just seemed very natural to give back.” She added, “I have given from my heart, as all of us do, because we love this town.” Welty was joined on stage by her daughter, and later by members of her extended family, some of whom came from as far as Sacramento to show their support.

In addition to the awards ceremony, two “Best of Carpinteria” baskets, valued at over $4,800 each, were raffled off. These baskets were put together entirely through local donations. Ultimately, the event showcased a small town’s close-knit, caring sense of community. Rep. Lois Capps remarked, “Those who are singled out really speak with and for us all.”


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