On Monday, November 22, at its annual Community Dividends® luncheon, Montecito Bank & Trust (MB&T) honored 179 local nonprofits and awarded a total of $1.2 million to them. Since the program’s inception 19 years ago, MB&T has granted $19+ million to nonprofits in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
During an hour-long reception, guests enjoyed mingling in the Rotunda at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort before being seated under an open-air tent festively adorned with harvest-colored balloons, leaves, and floral centerpieces.
Board Chair and CEO Janet Garufis welcomed guests and expressed her gratitude to the nonprofits for the important work they do every day. She noted that this day was to celebrate that service and dedication and that it is her favorite day of the year, just as it was for the late Michael Towbes.
Garufis expressed gratitude for Towbes — “our friend, mentor, and supporter.” She explained that when Towbes became the single shareholder and owner of MB&T, the vision of investing a meaningful portion of the Bank’s profits back into the community took shape. Towbes believed the bank had a responsibility to make the communities it serves better places to live and work and that supporting the nonprofits that assisted the most vulnerable was an important means to that end.
Towbes’s wife, Anne Towbes, related how Michael thought that the best part about having financial success was being able to give money away. He wanted to ensure the bank would continue to grow, according to Anne, so that it could give more money to the community.
In honor of Michael Towbes, MB&T now grants the Michael Towbes Impact Dividend to one or more nonprofits creating especially impactful change. This year, the Housing Trust Fund of S.B. County was granted $100,000 for its 3D-Printed Affordable Home Project, and the S.B. Neighborhood Clinics was granted $50,000 for its Bridge Clinic, which provides services to patients with substance-use disorders.
Garufis shared that in the last couple of years, the bank’s grants have focused on organizations that serve the most vulnerable populations and those critical to pandemic recovery efforts. Grants went to nonprofits serving youth and education, social services, medical and health services, and the arts.
President and COO George Leis shared how MB&T had a major impact on the community through Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. While clients of national banks struggled to get through to their banks, MB&T’s team gave a “rock-star performance,” jumping into action, working nights and weekends, and processing more than 3,500 loans worth more than $322 million, including $63 million for 314 nonprofits. “‘You are lifesavers,’” Leis related, is what he kept hearing from nonprofits and small businesses. Companies with national banks, Leis explained, realized during the pandemic the difference being with a community bank can make.
Founded in 1975, MB&T operates 11 branch offices between Solvang and Westlake Village. In the year ending September 2021, its assets grew by 21 percent to more than $2 billion. Community Dividends® is its largest philanthropic vehicle; its total annual giving amounts to $1.5 million. Last year, despite the pandemic foreclosing many volunteer opportunities, employees volunteered nearly 4,700 hours serving nonprofits.