We are all philanthropists.

When we think of the word philanthropy, it can come with its own connotation, perhaps one that often leans towards giving a major financial donation or having your last name put up on a building. At the Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara County’s largest community foundation, we see philanthropy in a different light. We believe that giving financially is just one aspect of philanthropy, and that equally important is the spirit of service and volunteerism. This why we have hosted the Celebrate Philanthropy Luncheon in partnership with the Santa Maria Times.

The Celebrate Philanthropy Luncheon was created not only to honor outstanding role models in our community, but also to share their stories and inspire others. Each year an independent committee representing the diverse population of Santa Maria Valley comes together to select individuals, couples or families who, through direct service or financial support, have demonstrated outstanding civic and charitable work in the Santa Maria Valley.

Members of our philanthropic community will gather at the Santa Maria Country Club to formally thank and recognize Erik and Judy Frost and Frank and Scottie Ortiz at this luncheon. These individuals are exceptional community leaders who have contributed to the betterment of the Santa Maria Valley by generously donating their time, talent and resources to important causes. Over the past few weeks we have shared on their philanthropic efforts with stories in the Sunday editions of the Santa Maria Times.

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Honorees are not philanthropists of the year - rather they are honored because of their long history of sustained effort with a broad community perspective. They are often ordinary people who started their philanthropic journey by simply looking for small ways they could give back. Celebrate Philanthropy increases community awareness of how, through philanthropy, honorees have made a difference while encouraging and reminding everyone in the community that we all have the ability to be philanthropic in our own way.

Philanthropy can take many forms, especially in the Santa Maria Valley. Like our honorees, it is compassion, in action, to better our community. This “love of mankind” as philanthropy is defined happens every day by community members like yourself.

Holding a door open for someone, sharing a friendly greeting or a smile with a stranger, small acts that have the potential to bring positivity to fellow community members. Devoting time volunteering at a local charity, hosting a bake sale or BBQ fundraiser for your child’s school, picking up litter on the street or handing out food at a foodbank are ways to help better the community. If you feel inclined to give financially, Santa Barbara County has over 2,000 local charities that are working to better our region, including the Santa Barbara Foundation which has served our county for over 90 years.

Any act of generosity, any act of compassion, any act of love for your surrounding neighbors is quite simply a philanthropic effort and we see this every day in the Santa Maria Valley. We hope you will feel inspired to find philanthropic ways you too can strengthen our community.

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