For many, moving to a new town is an exciting opportunity to begin a new life chapter. This is particularly true for Erik and Judy Frost, who decided to leave the isolating hustle and bustle of Southern California behind in hopes of becoming a meaningful part of the Santa Maria community.
“In Orange County, everybody got in their car before 7 o’clock in the morning, got on the freeway and drove to work. And you got back at about 7 o’clock at night. So literally all you did at your home was sleep and eat,” said Judy. “When we moved to Santa Maria, we found that the bulk of the community is engaged in that community. And that was what we were looking for. We wanted to live somewhere where we could be engaged and a vital member of the community. Not just somebody who slept there.”
Since their arrival in 1989, Erik and Judy have without a doubt accomplished their goal of becoming active members of the Santa Maria community. In addition to their service with the Allan Hancock College and PCPA, they have held vital leadership roles at the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara County, Dignity Health Pacific Central Coast Health Centers and the Association of California School Administrators.
“Judy and Erik are the kind of folks that every community needs. They are passionate about the organizations they serve; relentless in their advocacy; and generous with their time, resources, and wisdom. They demonstrate that philanthropy is much more than writing checks. Their example shows how individuals can build effective networks of influence to move the needle in a community. And they have certainly done that in Santa Maria,” said Jon Hooten, executive director of college advancement at the Allan Hancock College Foundation.
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When the Frosts first settled in Santa Maria, they knew that they wanted to become involved in the community, but at the time they were completely new to the world of volunteering and philanthropy. This quickly changed once Judy took a position at PCPA as their business manager and began writing thank you letters to the donors of the organization.
“There were $10 donations and $10,000 donations and it just amazed me. So I got involved with this thing called philanthropy, and what motivated people to do that, and look what happens when they do it! That’s when I really got hooked,” said Judy.
During this time Erik and Judy decided to invest their newfound free time in finding ways they could volunteer, now that they were no longer spending hours each day commuting. Shortly after joining PCPA, Judy was asked to volunteer on the Santa Barbara Foundation Student Aid Committee.
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“From there, our involvement continued to grow as we learned about new organizations that we really thought would be worthwhile supporting because they were in areas that we particularly loved. My focus, of course, has always been students and the young people of the community, and Judy’s has been more centered on the arts, which is something we never had the opportunity to do when we were down in Orange County,” said Erik.
He notes that it was a natural progression from simply signing up for mailing lists and attending events, to eventually volunteering and being asked to join the boards of various organizations.
For those looking to volunteer in their community, Erik shared this advice, “Feel free to experiment, go out and attend a board meeting, become involved. If you don’t like it move on to the next thing. If it is exactly what you want, become involved and your depth of involvement is completely up to you. You might be a person who just wants to write a check, you may want to be a person who sits on the board, you may want to be a person who goes out and spreads the word about the mission of the group. Don’t be afraid to experiment.”
Erik and Judy Frost will be honored for their contribution and service to the community at the Celebrate Philanthropy Luncheon on Nov. 7 at the Santa Maria Country Club. Sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Santa Maria Times, Celebrate Philanthropy recognizes individuals, couples or families who, through direct service or financial support, have demonstrated outstanding civic and charitable work in the Santa Maria Valley.
“Judy was the Foundation’s first chair of the board from North County, and has been a longtime champion of the Santa Maria community,” said Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “She and Erik are extraordinary individuals whose compassion, philanthropy, and leadership have made a meaningful impact for countless organizations across the county. It is a privilege to honor them for their extraordinary service at the Celebrate Philanthropy Luncheon.”
When asked how they feel about being recognized, Erik and Judy just laughed.
“Stunned! It’s uncomfortable to be honored for doing something that we receive so much joy from doing,” said Judy.
“It’s difficult to be recognized for something you just really enjoy and love doing,” added Erik. “And even without any recognition, we’d continue to do the exact same thing – it wouldn’t change a thing!”