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Community Conversations:
Santa Ynez Valley's Very Own, Guy Walker

Driving north on Highway 154, you travel through oak-dotted hills and descend into a lush, green basin known as the Santa Ynez Valley. You are ushered into the old town of Santa Ynez by a gentle wind that creates designs in the tall grass lining the side of the road. On Sagunto Street, a small adobe office is home to Guy Walker of Wealth Management Strategies where he and his wife Molly greet guests like dear friends. It is clear that Walker is a man bursting to share his pride and passion for the Santa Ynez Valley, and especially the Endowment for Youth Committee.

Jordan: Where are you from and how did you find your way to Santa Ynez?

Guy: I was raised in Compton, California and discovered Santa Ynez Valley as a sophomore in high school when I got accepted and attended Dunn School, which is a boarding school here. I graduated in 1976 and maintained a connection with the school ever since. My wife and I moved to Santa Ynez in 1990 where we raised our two children.

Jordan: How did the Endowment for Youth Committee (EYC) come about?

Guy: EYC was founded in 1986 as a response to the growing need for financial support among African American students and their families. Its goal is to help these students enjoy greater success in high school and to provide financial support for postsecondary education. Cliff Lambert, current board member, and Mel Richey, community matriarch, are among the original founders.

Jordan: What is your proudest accomplishment with EYC?

Guy: In 2015, EYC hit the reset button after a four year respite. I would say that we are most proud of the hundreds of young people that have benefited from the support of EYC over its 31-year history. Equally notable is the support of the many generous benefactors who have contributed to the agency's endowment, which currently sits at nearly $500,000.

Jordan: What would you like to improve with EYC?

Guy: EYC primarily seeks to be the preeminent advocate and engagement agent for young African American boys and men. Secondarily, it strives to be a voice for any and all underserved and underrepresented students on the Central Coast. We seek to unleash the full potential of those students that we serve.

Jordan: What is philanthropy like in Santa Ynez Valley?

Guy: Philanthropy in Santa Ynez is incredible. It is a very caring and close-knit community. There is a long history of giving and several of the county’s most notable philanthropic leaders are from this community. I would say that the philanthropic community not only supports Santa Ynez-based initiatives, but also supports a range of initiatives beyond its immediate community.

Jordan: What are some examples of philanthropic success that you have seen within Santa Ynez Valley?

Guy: Examples of local generosity and philanthropy would be the Stu Gildred YMCA, Santa Ynez People Helping People, and the new Golden Inn & Village, which serves low income seniors.

JordanWhat challenges are most pressing in Santa Ynez Valley?

Guy: Given the complexities in accessing government funding, private and community foundations have become increasingly important to funding these vital services. I hope that we will continue to find solutions to some of our community’s greatest challenges by increased collaboration between agencies that provide human and social services.

For more information on Guy Walker, EYC, and Wealth Management Strategies please contact him at guy@wealthmgtstrategies.com.

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