By Raiza Giorgi

Montecito Bank and Trust kicked off the holiday season on Monday, Nov. 23, with a special annual tradition and a new twist — a virtual Community Dividends celebration. Now in its 18th year, this unique giving program has granted a total of $18 million to local Santa Barbara and Ventura County nonprofits.

In lieu of the traditional Thanksgiving meal that is typically shared among nonprofit friends at each year’s celebration luncheon, Montecito Bank and Trust donated 200 turkeys to Central Coast nonprofit organizations, including Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, Food Share of Ventura County and Manna Conejo Valley.

“PHP is honored to have been the recipient of a Michael Towbes Community Impact grant,” said Valerie Kissell, CEO of SYV People Helping People. “This could not have come at a better time for our agency. As this horrific virus runs its course, we have had to make hard decisions even while the need for our services grows. We are so blessed to be a part of such a giving community.”

SYV People Helping People got a grant of $25,000 which will bring new resources to their emergency services, food and shelter.

The Wildling Museum of Art and Nature received a grant of $2,500 which will help sponsor a year’s worth of virtual programming, according to Executive Director Stacey Otte-Demangate.

“This means online lectures, artist panels and art classes,” Otte-Demangate said. “We are so grateful for their investment as it means we can forge ahead with scheduling a great calendar of programs for 2021. Montecito Bank and Trust is such an incredible supporter of our local nonprofits — it’s truly inspiring.”

The virtual gathering was filled with over 320 attendees, including Central Coast nonprofits, MB&T associates and media. Recipients received a special hand delivery from bank associates, which included a bottle of celebratory bubbles from several local wineries and a mask with the message “Choose Kindness,” tying together the theme of supporting and keeping each other safe during these times. Nonprofit leaders cheerfully reconnected through Zoom chat and watched videos showcasing impactful photos of their own teams at work in the community.

“Our community has experienced disaster, but this year has been like no other,” said Janet Garufis, Chairman & CEO of Montecito Bank and Trust. “You, our nonprofit community, took your previous experience and quickly mobilized. You activated partnerships and networks to help meet the needs of our community. You are caring for the most vulnerable, healing the sick and the lonely, educating our children, meeting basic needs such as food and rent and lifting our spirits with music and arts that remind us of the beauty around us. You are an integral part of our community-wide resilience,”.

The Community Dividends grant program was created in 2003 by Michael Towbes, Montecito Bank & Trust’s late owner and founder, with a primary focus on supporting organizations or programs that serve low- and moderate-income individuals and families in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Dividends are awarded to organizations that serve youth and education, social services, medical and health services and the arts.

The Michael Towbes Community Impact Grant was created in 2019 to honor the legacy of Montecito Bank & Trust’s founder, whose vision inspired the bank’s philanthropic giving programs and made a significant and meaningful impact on the Central Coast communities. This grant is intended to do the same by gifting $100,000 to one or more nonprofits that deliver critical and sustainable services to a large amount of the most vulnerable people in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

In its second year, the Michael Towbes Community Impact Grant was increased to $175,000 due to the overwhelming needs that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was distributed to five organizations that are providing critical community aid during this time. The 2020 recipients were announced on the call and included Child Abuse Listening Mediation, Inc. (CALM), Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA), Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, Organic Soup Kitchen and Gold Coast Veterans Foundation.

The inaugural Jerry Parent Anniversary Grants Legacy Award was also presented at this year’s Community Dividends celebration.

“As we prepared for our 45th Anniversary in March, I was thinking not only about the legacy that Mike left, but how this bank came to be,” Garufis shared. “Most people know that Mike was one of the founders of this wonderful bank, but what you may not know, is that if it was not for our other founding board member, Jerry Parent, Montecito Bank & Trust might not be what is today. It was Jerry who invited Mike to invest in the bank over 45 years ago and what better way to celebrate this milestone anniversary than by celebrating our very own Jerry Parent.

“Mr. Parent has dedicated 45 years of his leadership and expertise to the bank and local community at large and in his honor the award goes to an organization that creates sustainable change and positive impact just as he has. The 2020 recipient was the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, an organization which Mr. Parent has been supporting and involved in for many years.”

Montecito Bank & Trust is the oldest and largest locally owned community bank in the Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Founded in 1975, the bank celebrated its 45th anniversary on March 17 and operates 11 branch offices in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang, Montecito, Carpinteria, Ventura, Camarillo and Westlake Village. Montecito Bank & Trust has a history of unwavering corporate philanthropy in the local communities it serves, annually donating $1.5 million dollars and volunteering over 7,500 hours to nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

This is a listing of all 194 nonprofit organizations that received Community Dividends:

AHA! (Attitude. Harmony. Achievement.)
Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara
Alzheimer’s Association, California Central Coast Chapter
American Heart Association – Santa Barbara County
American Heart Association- Ventura County
Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara
Atterdag at Home, Inc.
Atterdag Village of Solvang
Boxtales Theatre Foundation
Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo
Boys & Girls Club of Moorpark & Simi Valley Inc.
Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara
California Avocado Festival, Inc.
California Lutheran University
California State University Channel Islands Foundation
Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara
Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara
Carpinteria Children’s Project
Carpinteria Education Foundation, Inc.
Carpinteria Valley Arts Council
Casa Del Herrero
Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families
Casa Serena, Inc.
Channel Islands YMCA
Child Abuse Listening Mediation, Inc. (CALM)
Children’s Resource & Referral
City Impact, Inc.
Common Table Foundation
Community Arts Music Association of Santa Barbara Inc.
Community Conscience / Under One Roof
Community Counseling and Education Center
Community Environmental Council
Community Memorial Healthcare Foundation
Conejo Valley Senior Concerns, Inc.
Congregation B’nai B’rith
Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Ventura County
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County
Crane Country Day School
Direct Relief
Doctors Without Walls
Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County
Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation
Dream Foundation
Easy Lift Transportation
El Concilio Family Services
Elings Park Foundation
Elverhoj Museum of History & Art
Endowment For Youth Committee
Ensemble Theatre Company
Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County
Fielding Graduate University
Food From The Heart
Food Share
Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
Foundation for Santa Barbara High School
Fr. Virgil Cordano Center
Friendship Manor Inc.
Ganna Walska Lotusland
Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria
Girls Incorporated of Greater Santa Barbara
Goleta Education Foundation
Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation
Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County
Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County
Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center
HELP of Carpinteria
Hillside House
Hinchee Homes
Hospice of the Conejo
Hospice of Santa Barbara, Inc.
Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura
Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County, Inc.
Housing Trust Fund Ventura County
Independent Living Resource Center, Inc.
Isla Vista Youth Projects, Inc.
Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara
Kids & Families Together
Laguna Blanca School
Leading From Within
Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurse Association
Lobero Theatre Foundation
Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization
Los Olivos School Foundation
Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties
Mental Wellness Center
Midland School
Mission Scholars
Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
Montecito Firefighters Charitable Foundation
Casa Dorinda
Montecito Union School
MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
Museum of Ventura County
Music Academy of the West
National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Santa Barbara Chapter
National Association of Women Business Owners, Ventura County
National Disaster Search Dog Foundation
New Beginnings Counseling Center
New House Santa Barbara
Old Mission Santa Barbara
Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, Inc.
Opera Santa Barbara
Organic Soup Kitchen
Pacific Pride Foundation
Parks and Recreation Community Foundation
Peoples’ Self-Help Housing Corporation
Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation
Planned Parenthood California Central Coast
Project Understanding of San Buenaventura
PublicSquare, Inc.
Sansum Clinic
Sansum Diabetes Research Institute
Santa Barbara Alternatives to Violence
Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.
Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation
Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
Santa Barbara Club Preservation Foundation
Santa Barbara Community Housing Corporation
The Marjorie Luke Theatre
Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Foundation
Santa Barbara County Education Office
Santa Barbara Culinary Experience
Santa Barbara Education Foundation
Santa Barbara Foundation
Santa Barbara Hillel
Santa Barbara Historical Museum
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
Santa Barbara Meals on Wheels, Inc.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics
Santa Barbara Police Activities League
Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation
Santa Barbara Rescue Mission
Santa Barbara Symphony
Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
Santa Barbara Zoological Foundation
Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital Foundation
Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, Inc.
Buellton Senior Center
Santa Ynez Valley Therapeutic Riding Program
Sarah House
Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara
Solvang Friendship House
Solvang Senior Center
Solvang Theaterfest, Inc.
TV Santa Barbara
St. Vincent’s Institution
Standing Together to End Sexual Assault
State Street Ballet
Storyteller Children’s Center
Studio Channel Islands Art Center
Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International
Teacher’s Fund
Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation
The Arc Foundation of Ventura County
The Cecilia Fund
The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens
The Foundation for Girsh Park
The Foundation For Santa Barbara City College
The Grace Fisher Foundation
The Howard School
The Oxnard College Foundation
The Rona Barrett Foundation
The Salvation Army of Santa Barbara
Tina Hansen McEnroe & Paul V. McEnroe Reading and Language Arts Clinic at UCSB
Transition House
UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division
UCSB Alumni Association
UCSB Arts & Lectures
UCSB Economic Forecast Project
UCSB Technology Management Program
United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County
United Way of Santa Barbara County, Inc.
United Way of Ventura County, Inc.
Unity Shoppe, Inc.
Ventura County Community Foundation
Ventura County Library Foundation
Ventura County Medical Resource Foundation
VNA Health
Westmont College
Wilderness Youth Project
Wildling Museum of Art and Nature
Women’s Economic Ventures
Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara
Youth and Family Services YMCA: Noah’s Anchorage Youth Crisis Center