SB CAN Recognized Outstanding Contributions to the Community

Award winners pose with Santa Barbara County Action Network representatives, elected officials and their representatives after the May 19 North County “Looking Forward” Awards Dinner. From left to right, front row they are Diana Samaguey and Carmen Guzman of Lompoc Co-op Development Project; Dan Mally and Jan Martinez of Lompoc; and Mary Ellen “Marell” Brooks of Vandenberg Village. Back row left to right are Maria Garcia-Cacique of Lompoc Co-op Development Project; SB CAN Executive Director Ken Hough; Doug Coleman representing Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian; State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson; SB CAN President Joann Marmolejo; Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores; Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Bill Libbon; and Lois Capps representative Blanca Figueroa.

Awards were given to Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Bill Libbon, Judge Rogelio Flores, Mary Ellen “Marell” Brooks, Jan Martinez, Dan Mally and the Lompoc Co-op Development Project. SB CAN secretary and entertainer Gale McNeeley and students from PCPA sang songs to each of the winners before Joyce Howerton presented the awards on behalf of SB CAN.

Libbon received the Working Families Award for his 39 years of service at the Boys and Girls Club.

“Bill worked his way through the organization,” Howerton said. “He takes care of the children. Out of 40,000 children that have gone through his organization, those families would not be able to work without what he does at the Boys and Girls Club. He’s everywhere. He’s always there to help.”

Flores received the Social Justice Award for his work with the Substance Abuse Treatment Court, the High Risk DUI calendar, the Veterans Treatment Court, Mental Health Court, and the domestic violence review calendar. He spent 12 years presiding over the drug court, a program he helped create.

“He holds people accountable, but does it in such a loving, respectful way, they get it,” Howerton said. “Consequently they change. Their families change.”

Martinez and Mally received the Environmental Protection and Sustainability Award for turning weed-filled empty lots into pocket parks in downtown Lompoc. They are working on the fifth park now, spending their own money and using mostly recycled materials.

“They have made the most beautiful, peaceful oasis you could imagine,” Howerton said. “Lompoc has a lot of lots with weeds. They made them into community gardens.”

Brooks received the Giving Back to the Community Award. She has served on the County Planning Commission, the Citizens Planning Association, County Commission for Women, Vandenberg Village Library support group and the Women’s Literary Festival of Santa Barbara. She organized an annual American Association of University Women conference for middle school girls. She is president of the Lompoc Valley Democratic Club and writes columns for the Lompoc Record.

“Marell really put her time into working on what was best for the community,” Howerton said.

The Lompoc Co-op Development Project received the “Looking Forward” Award for giving the Lompoc community a vision and hope for the future. Members of a local church brought together community leaders and professionals of different faiths to help their economically depressed community. They just launched the Green Broom Brigade, a worker-owned green cleaning firm.

“They’re employing people. They’re giving them something to be proud of,” Howerton said.

The guest speaker, Karen Evangelista of the Guadalupe Cultural Arts and Education Center, spoke on “Empowering our Community through Cultural Traditions and the Arts.” She encourages young persons to learn their families stories which builds character and for all to be involved in creative activities, such as art, poetry and music, including supporting these things. “You’re making a difference, inspiring others,” she said.


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