Frank and Scottie Ortiz 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 including President and Rotary District 5240 District Governor. He has also served in leadership positions for Toys for Tots Central Coast, Good Samaritan Shelter Services, and the American Red Cross. Scottie is best known for her work with CASA of Santa Barbara County as an advocate for neglected and abused children, and as a member of the board.
Judy and Erik Frost have been actively involved in philanthropy since they first moved to Santa Maria in 1989. In addition to their service with Allan Hancock College and PCPA, they have also 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.
It only takes a brief conversation with Amy Curti to learn about the many hats she wears. She is a wife, mother of four sons, singer, pianist, and Glee club teacher, just to name a few. Slowly transitioning into leadership roles is a reoccurring theme for the Santa Ynez Valley local. Many of her experiences in joining local nonprofits have come from a genuine desire to make a difference, rather than looking to gain recognition. This can be seen in instances such as Curti’s involvement as a Glee club teacher for a number of local elementary and high school programs. While Curti’s interest covers a wide range of causes, the common thread within each one is giving the same support to others that she has received, whether assisting other moms who have children with autism, or sharing her love of music.
Greg and Donna France have served as community leaders in Santa Maria for over 20 years. This includes their business as strawberry growers and long-time involvement with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Maria Valley. “The BGCSMV was our introduction into nonprofits,” Donna said. Seeing his wife’s dedication to the organization convinced Greg to participate as well. During more than 14 years of work with the BGCSMV, they have both served as board chair (the first husband and wife to do so). Greg and Donna also have several individual achievements between them. Greg sat as chairman of the Ventura County Agricultural Association in 2013, and has been on the board of directors of the California Strawberry Commission for 20 years. Donna participated in the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation program, and has served as a board member with the Marian Regional Medical Center Foundation and California Women for Agriculture.
Marylinn is known for her optimistic energy and genuine caring for others. Green is the one who can always be seen jumping right into a task and giving it her all, without expecting any acknowledgement in return. She has given her time to several organizations in Santa Maria Valley, including the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA), Marian Regional Medical Center and the Santa Barbara Foundation. She served as a member of the board of directors at the Santa Maria Valley YMCA and volunteered as an usher at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center. She also has a habit of keeping herself occupied at all times. Although Green is retired, she stays on the go, whether it’s volunteering at a local golf tournament or going to lunch with friends.
In the 1970s, Agnes began to dedicate her time and resources to raising funds for what became the Allan Hancock College Foundation in 1977. As the first executive director of the foundation, she was able to help many students attend Allan Hancock College, as well as various subsequent universities to follow their passion. In addition, Agnes has supported VTC Enterprises and the Santa Maria Arts Council. She is a past trustee of the Santa Barbara Foundation and served on the Student Aid Committee for many years, which resulted in reading countless scholarship applications. She has given her time to Marian Regional Medical Center and given resources to the Marian Regional Medical Center Foundation. Her volunteer time has been spent in the Emergency Department either calling patients upon their discharge or serving as an escort through the new hospital campus.
While many people in the community know that Jim Bray is a man dedicated to service, very few know that his commitment to service began during his 28 years in the Army, including serving as a U.S. Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel.After over 40 years of working in the oil and gas industry, Bray retired, became a consultant and dedicated the rest of his time to being of service in the community. In addition to being a member of the Santa Maria Breakfast Rotary Club, he has served on the boards of his church, the Santa Maria Valley YMCA, the Allan Hancock College Foundation and the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts Foundation. Bray and his wife Denise also support the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara County, the Orcutt Children’s Arts Foundation and VTC Enterprises, among others. Bray does not have just one particular cause that drives him, but sees his commitment to service as an essential part of being a member of a community.
Patrick and Jeri Ferini are known throughout the community for their kindness and for their enthusiasm for a multitude of causes. They are willing to wear funny hats, make gifts of vegetables, or install 50 decorated Christmas trees in their house for the sake of charity. Jeri and Patrick actively support all the local schools, participating in the organizing of their auctions, BBQs, Farmers Markets, etc. Patrick prepares and works at BBQ fundraisers, while Jeri visits local businesses seeking donations for auction items to raise funds for educational and athletic needs. Both Patrick and Jeri live by the motto, “Treat people like you want to be treated.”
Ed Murray is used to the spotlight. As Santa Maria’s consummate emcee, he makes supporting charities fun and irresistible. Lisa Murray shares her personal warmth and generosity in a more quiet way, focusing on a child in need or a teen applying to college. Together, they make a significant difference in every corner of the community. Ed’s philanthropic career began with a donation to the Boys and Girls Club, although he could ill afford it at the time. He recalled a lesson from his parents: ‘the more you give, the more you get’ and reasoned it was the right thing to do. He emcees, without charge, for a host of big fundraisers: Santa Maria YMCA, Marian Regional Medical Center, the Boys & Girls Club, Chamber of Commerce, CASA of Santa Barbara County, COLAB, Western Growers Association, Rape Crisis Center, CALM, and St. Joseph’s High School. Lisa and Ed volunteer with CASA and between the two of them, have had an enormous impact on local children in need.
Diane Adam is the kind of person who sees beyond herself to focus on the needs of others. She is forthright, honest and takes commitments seriously.Her dancing blue eyes take in everything. As anyone visiting the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum will attest, she loves bringing people together. Diane is much appreciated as a catalyst for bringing North and South County together to collaborate on projects that have benefited many. Diane says that her “philanthropic heart” was born at St. Patrick’s School, which nurtured a culture of giving and caring about the community. Diane’s mother championed education and spent time at the school volunteering. Diane says she learned from her mother to process information quickly and distill it down to the essentials.
Gayle Pratt is known for her warm heart. Her inherent empathy for people in need, coupled with a firm belief in their ability to improve their own lives is infectious. Gayle has a special gift for inspiring people from diverse backgrounds to get involved and remain involved. When inevitable setbacks occur, she learns from them and keeps moving forward. For over 20 years, Gayle has shared her passion for community service every day, in both her personal life and at work. The youngest of three girls, Gayle grew up in a Dallas suburb with parents who modeled exceptional lessons, placing a huge emphasis on treating people with respect and on giving back. She says they were happy people, authentic and honest with very high expectations. She strives to honor their love and example by helping others.
Nancy K. Johnson is small in stature but she stands tall in the estimation of those who know her.When researchers suggest that people who volunteer and assist others live longer and healthier lives, they could look to Nancy. Now in her mid-80s, Nancy begins each day with the same enthusiasm and commitment to her community that she displayed in her youth. It would be hard to find a Santa Maria Valley resident who has not been touched by Nancy’s 52 years of generosity. For more than 20 years Nancy was an active member of the community planning process with the City of Santa Maria and the County of Santa Barbara. Her artistic influence can be seen throughout the city in the numerous front porches, plazas, fountains, pedestrian benches, decorative light fixtures and increased greenery.
Dan and Peggy Blough are partners in life and partners in philanthropy. The couple has been married for over 40 years, owned and operated real estate and construction businesses together, and through it all generously gave to numerous nonprofit organizations in the Santa Maria Valley. Collectively, the Bloughs have contributed to organizations including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Maria Valley, Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM), Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County (DVS), Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, GenSpan Foundation, Good Samaritan Shelter, Los Padres Artist Guild, Marian Regional Medical Center, Santa Maria Breakfast Rotary, Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, Santa Maria Valley YMCA and VTC Enterprises.
Believing that access to a quality education and excellent health care are essential for each generation, Georganne Ferini has devoted her life’s work to improving these tenets in the Santa Maria Valley. In the early 1980s, Marian Regional Medical Center wanted to create a charitable foundation and approached key members of the community for help. While serving on the foundation board, Georganne and other members were tasked with raising funds for the hospital’s newly established dialysis center. Their successful efforts generated over $150,000 to purchase eight dialysis machines. While serving on the Marian Foundation Board from 1983 to 2000 and on the Marian Hospital Community Board from 2001 to 2008, Georganne was also instrumental in raising funds to build a comprehensive cardiac care program and a new 191-bed hospital. Additionally, her work has extended beyond the hospital – making generous gifts to Mission Hope Cancer Center, the first integrated oncology facility on the Central Coast.
Tom and Jane Martinez are well-known in the community for volunteering with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley, the Rotary Club of Santa Maria, the Santa Maria Valley Sportsman’s Association, and others. Tom coached Little League and Babe Ruth baseball teams in North County for over 25 years, with Jane by his side as a team mom and fundraiser. Jane is renowned for her decorating skills with the Boys & Girls Club Annual Auction, having been involved with their decorating committee for more than 20 years. She is affectionately known as the ‘Card Board Queen.’ Tom and Jane founded Celebrity Waiters’ Night, a popular fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club that raises funds to benefit youth programs. “Supporting youth and community nonprofits are the overarching philanthropic goals for Tom and Jane,” said Bill Libbon, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley. In addition to their volunteer work, Tom and Jane have been instrumental in recruiting new leaders to serve in nonprofit organizations. The couple credit their record of service to a close network of friends and a philosophy of making volunteerism a fun experience.
Mike Gibson’s philanthropy has included 25 years of service as a board member for organizations including the Rotary Club of Santa Maria Breakfast; Santa Maria Valley YMCA; Boys & Girls Club of Santa Maria Valley; Allan Hancock College Foundation; Orcutt Children’s Arts Foundation; Orcutt Union School District; United Way of the Central Coast; Santa Maria Museum of Flight; and Child Abuse Listening and Mediation (CALM). Focusing his community service on providing opportunities for youth, Gibson’s favorite volunteer moments are spending time with Boys & Girls Club youth, speaking with Allan Hancock College students who have received life-changing scholarships, and hearing how YMCA participants are receiving the resources they need to overcome challenging situations. Gibson is currently serving his 19th consecutive year as co-chair of the Santa Maria Christmas Parade of Lights. His efforts are rewarded in the joy on children’s faces and the hope that he can be an example for others, just as his father was for him.
Whether supporting education, animal welfare, youth, or senior citizens, there are few philanthropic projects in the Santa Maria Valley that Stu and Jan Bartleson have not contributed. With little or no fanfare, support was given to many agencies who would have struggled to provide services or operate in tough economic times without the Bartlesons generosity. They have sponsored many events and been the lead donors to various successful campaigns including providing the Luis Oasis Senior Center with its largest gift in agency history in 2009. Stu and Jan have been major contributors to service organizations and local nonprofit agencies providing vital services and programs to the benefit of area residents.
Despite their many contributions to nonprofits in the Santa Maria Valley, Bob and Jeanne Woods were able to keep a low profile—just the way they wanted it. For decades they humbly supported organizations serving the community, particularly programs for youth, the arts, and animal welfare. The couple founded the Edwin and Jeanne Woods Family Foundations so that they could give back to the community where they had raised their family and where they spent their professional lives. The list of nonprofits that have benefited from the Woods Family Foundation is more than 20 deep and comprehensive. The community suffered a grave loss in 2011 when Bob passed away at 93, followed shortly thereafter by Jeanne, who passed away at the age of ninety. The Santa Maria Valley was truly blessed to have had their support and generosity for so many years.
Royce and Ann have been major contributors to several local organizations in Santa Maria, Santa Ynez, and throughout the county. In recognition of Royce’s substantial contributions to Allan Hancock college, he was given the Outstanding Benefactor Award by the American Association of Community Colleges’ Council for Resource Development. In recognition of Ann’s commitment to education and the community, she has received many awards including the Marian Medical Center Distinguished Service Award, Woman of the Year for the 18th California Senatorial District, and the Woman of Excellence Awrd from the Santa Maria Women’s Network. Both Royce and Ann have been very successful in their respective careers, but they have especially distinguished themselves individually by their extraordinary contributions of time, talent, and financial support to their community.
For over 60 years, Sue has been a strong, committed, and giving member of our community. She doesn’t seem to know the word “no” and has been a very generous donor. Since arriving in Santa Maria in 1945, she has served as a president or board member of multiple civic organizations and has been a generous donor to many causes such as the PCPA Forever Legacy and Marian Medical Center Legacy Society. Sue has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors such as the Santa Barbara County Outstanding Woman of the Year in 1993. She is the quintessential volunteer and community leader.
Jeanie and Henri Ardantz are longtime community residents and strong supporters of innumerable community causes. Beneficiaries of the Ardantz’ dedication include the YMCA, Marian Medical Center, and Domestic Violence Solutions.
Perhaps most popularly known as the founders of the Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe, Clarence and Rosalie Minetti have been integral to the philanthropic efforts of more than 15 local organizations. The two have been heavily involved with and sponsored such groups as the Guadalupe Lions Club, the school board, Chamber of Commerce, Marian Medical Foundation, and the Agricultural Association Farm Board.
Frazinska and Dennis Shepard have been actively involved in the community of Santa Maria for over 30 years and given generously of their time and financial resources to a variety of worthy local causes. They are both well known for their leadership in many other local causes including the Good Samaritan Shelter, the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts (PCPA), and the public library.
Mark and Dorothy have been active in the Santa Maria Community for over 50 years. They are self-made success stories. They have been generous donors to many organizations in the Santa Maria Valley. Mark has also leant his leadership talent to board service. Mark and Dorothy agreed the important thing for people to do is give what they can. “The small lump of money is just as important and hard to come by for one person, as a large donation might be for someone else.” The couple has recently created the family’s own foundation for charitable giving. Their generosity will live on in perpetuity through their family foundation.
Both personally and through their company, Jay and Anne have donated to many organizations in town. Jay was always humble about his deeds, preferring to lead by example in order to draw people into philanthropic causes. He focused much of his efforts toward youth fitness opportunities. The Will family tradition of giving back to the community has carried on to the next generation of five sons and one daughter. “We’ve been so blessed, but you truly get more from giving than from receiving,” said Anne.
Born and raised in Santa Maria (fourth generation natives), they have worked together to make this community a better place for more than eight decades. They have made gifts to many organizations in town and Joe has shared his leadership talents with numerous boards, committees, and foundations over the years. Joe said, “His ‘make money to give it away’ philosophy has meant his family has gone a little longer between new cars and taken fewer vacations over the years, but that giving has its own rewards.”