Staff Report

Nearly 100 guests attended a Celebration of the Valley at Zaca Creek Ranch in the hills above Buellton recently. The event was designed to elevate the message of local nonprofits, community organizations and aspiring college students, and share how the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation supports these groups and individuals.

Board president Hayley Firestone compared donating to the foundation to planting an acorn and watching it grow from a sapling into a strong oak.

“My family moved to the valley in 1972,” she said. “We had a tradition of collecting fallen acorns, soaking them for a few days, planting them and watching them grow. Last winter, (we) did the same on the ranch.

“Stu Gildred founded this organization in 1991. Like the acorns, the foundation cannot survive without the ‘watering’ and care from all of us.”

The guests were told the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation is the only charitable organization focused entirely on improving the lives of those in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos.

Plastic pots with saplings decorated the front of the stage, and signs adorned the event supporting this point reading “Our Mission is the Valley” and “Give Local, Thrive Local,” as well as a new hashtag, #SYVPROUD, intended to create a positive social media thread about the Valley.

A barbecue dinner was donated by Frank Ostini of The Hitching Post II, and Bear Redell’s music filled the evening air.

For information about donating to the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation, visit www.syvalleyfoundation.orgor email Anne Christensen at