Four Santa Maria Valley residents were honored for their passion for community service and charitable giving during the 10th annual Celebrate Philanthropy luncheon Thursday.
Held at the Santa Maria Country Club, the annual luncheon is sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Santa Maria Times. The year’s honorees are Greg and Donna France, Amy Curti and Marylinn Green.
Event emcee Ed Murray — who is a former Celebrate Philanthropy honoree alongside his wife, Lisa — said philanthropic work was an effort to enhance human well-being through a charitable gift of treasure, time or talent.
“The Santa Maria Valley is very philanthropic,” he said. “And we’re here today to honor two individuals and a couple who have a record of exceptional generosity demonstrated by outstanding civic and charitable responsibility, leadership and by encouraging others to become philanthropic leaders. These honorees are being honored for a history or sustained effort from a broad community perspective.”
Curti — who’s held leadership roles with the Orcutt Children’s Art Foundation, the Santa Maria Women’s Network, the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County and Child Abuse Listening Mediation — said she was honored to be recognized for her community service on behalf of women and children.
“I remember coming to this luncheon for the first time many, many years ago and I was a little starstruck and in awe, not only of the men and women being honored but the people who filled the room,” Curti said. “I could tell that these were my people. These were the movers and shakers of this community and I thought to myself, ‘I want to be like them when I grow up.’
“So here I am at 44 being acknowledged for service to the nonprofits and organizations that I’m so deeply attached to,” Curti said.
Longtime strawberry growers Greg and Donna France were honored for their deep involvement with the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley. The Frances, who have both served as board chair of the Boys & Girls Club said they were grateful to the recognized for their work.
“We moved to Santa Maria in ‘96 and we didn’t know what our destiny was at that point,” Donna France said. “During this time from ‘96 to 2004, we worked in the strawberry industry and then for Union Bank, and also I was with the Boys & Girls Club. When we started our company almost 15 years ago, we had no idea where that journey would take us. That was when we met Tom and Jane [Martinez] and it just became really easy to invest in our community.
“We don’t know what the next 15 years are going to look like but some of the values of our company are philanthropy, sustainability and respect — those are core values that we keep and hold dear to our hearts and we know it’ll be part of our future,” she said.
Green — a Montana native who settled in Santa Maria in 1981 with her late husband, Jim — was the final 2018 honoree. A prolific volunteer, Green has given her time to work with the Pacific Conservatory Theatre, Marian Regional Medical Center, the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Santa Maria Valley YMCA.
“I’m very humbled and honored to receive this award,” Green said. “I’m blessed to be included with Amy [Curti] and Greg and Donna [France]. I love living in this community and I feel so blessed to be part of it.”