Whether its advocating for children in Santa Maria, helping with the local Christmas parade, delivering polio vaccines to children in Nigeria, or traveling to Sri Lanka to support school teachers, Frank and Scottie Ortiz are constantly finding ways, big and small, to help others.
“Santa Maria is a very giving, compassionate and caring community. If someone needs help with something, there’s always people there to help out,” said Scottie. “Somebody told us when we first moved here that if you ever got sick, Santa Maria is the place to live because somebody is going to go out on Broadway and set up a BBQ to sell chicken to help you. And you see that all the time, even still. There are a lot of caring, giving people here.”
Frank and Scottie moved to North County in 1997, when Frank became Santa Maria Fire Chief. A member of the Rotary Club of Santa Maria Breakfast since 1998, Frank has held a number of leadership roles for the organization over the years including President (2003-04), and Rotary District 5240 District Governor (2012-13), representing the counties of Kern, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. He and Scottie have also participated in a number of Rotary International Service Trips, including Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Korea. In addition, Frank has served in leadership positions for other nonprofit organizations like Toys for Tots Central Coast, Good Samaritan Shelter Services, and the American Red Cross where he was honored with the Clara Barton Leadership Award in 2003.
“You recognize a need and do what you can to support. There’s doing good on a local community basis, and there’s doing good in the world. I knew I wanted to help on a worldwide effort, that’s why we got involved with Rotary, because they could provide that opportunity. Global community service is just like local community service,” said Frank.
Scottie is best known for her work with CASA of Santa Barbara County. She got involved with the organization in 2003 as a volunteer advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect, and eventually joined the board of directors in 2006.
“I wanted to have more knowledge and more of a voice in what was happening in the organization. At the time, our board of directors consisted of 17 members. Only two of them were from Santa Maria and the rest of them were from Santa Barbara. That’s why I wanted to get on the board, because I wanted them to pay more attention to what was going on in North County,” Scottie explained. “That’s why I think volunteering is important, because then you have a voice in what’s going on in your community and you have a voice in what’s happening with things near to your heart.”
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“Scottie and Frank are role models for the community, in giving of their time, talent, and treasure to so many important causes. After years of supporting CASA together, Frank just joined as a child advocate himself. Now, with Scottie, they live their gifts in action through advocating for children. They are on the front lines, together, to change our community one child at a time,” said Kim Colby Davis, executive director of CASA of Santa Barbara County. “One of my favorite quotes by Fred Rogers is ‘We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem. Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.’ Frank and Scottie are just that - heroes in my eyes.”
Frank and Scottie will be honored for their contributions 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 those who, through direct service or financial support, have demonstrated outstanding civic and charitable work in the Santa Maria Valley.
“Frank and Scottie Ortiz have done so much for the Santa Maria community, through their leadership, compassion and generosity,” said Ron Gallo president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “It is a privilege to honor Frank and Scottie Ortiz for their years of service.”
“We’ve been to several of these Celebrate Philanthropy lunches, and we’ve known most, if not all, of the people being recognized over the years. It’s just a room full of like-minded people, in terms of giving back or in terms of service. And service doesn’t just mean ‘who can donate more,’ it’s also about people that are out there putting things together to get things moving. Scottie and I like to be a little bit of both,” said Frank.
“Besides the fact that we are moving into a group with a lot of really elite people who have been honored before us, we want people to see that it is us, just ordinary people doing ordinary things that make a difference in the world, and that anybody can do this,” added Scottie.